6 Indications of Water Damage

Signs of water damage

There are lots of signs of water damage that can be found if you know to look for them. Below are six indications that water damage might be a problem in your building:

Musty smells

Musty odors indicate mold is present. But also know that lack of a musty smell does NOT exclude mold as a possibility. 

Surface texture changes

Look for texture changes of any kind on surfaces. These may include…

  • peeling
  • blistering
  • cracking
  • bubbling
  • powder
Surface texture changes are indications of moisture damage

Surface color changes

Check for any discoloration of surfaces… even slight.  Mold or black, white or other colored spots on wet surfaces like shower areas, for example, may be an indication that there might be more spores than usual in the air. It might also mean humidity is too high. 

Surface color changes on wall
Surface color changes in vent

Exterior drainage

Check outside your building during rain events to look for how the gutters function, water flow anywhere around the building from the roof to the ground and look for water puddling near the foundation. Note where walls meet roofs, at window and door openings or other projections through outside walls. Water stains caused being absorbed by materials is often visible for several hours after a rain event.

In winter, look for icicles, ice dams, snow melt off roofs which show where warm air is escaping the building. Ice dams often lead to roof leaks. 


Water usage

Turn off all of water faucets and check your water meter to see if it is measuring water usage. This could mean a leak somewhere.


Sticking doors

Doors that stick or wood floors buckling can also be a sign of moisture damage.

High humidity

Winter is the perfect time to notice if any rooms have higher humidity levels than others. This can be a sign of stored moisture behind walls, ceilings or floors. Humidity levels should be below 40% in heating seasons. Below 55% when air conditioning is required. 

Humidity monitor

Get your questions answered!

Cheryl Ciecko, AIA, ALA, LEED AP, is a licensed architect who helps homeowners and building professionals create safe homes through online education to prevent mold, water damage, and poor indoor air quality. You can find her video masterclasses, online programs, and education subscription options at https://avoidingmold.com/education .

For detailed answers on your specific situation or building project, schedule your appointment for an individual consultation.


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The information contained in this presentation is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat, or cure any disease, ailment or injury to the body. It is not medical advice. FDA regulations prohibit the use of medical claims in conjunction with the sale of any product not approved by the FDA. Statements made herein have not been evaluated by the FDA. 

Any products, techniques, and/or personal usage tips referred to are not suggested as a replacement for proper treatment from a licensed health care professional. I am not a licensed health care professional and the decision to use or not to use any of this information is the sole responsibility of the listener and/or reader. Everyone is an individual with different body types, different blood types, different body chemistries, and it is important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another person.