How to Spot Signs of Water Damage When Buying a Home

Embarking on the home buying process can be incredibly exciting, particularly if you’re looking at some real homes of distinction in your area. But if you allow yourself to get carried away during an open house, you might be inclined to miss some important details that could impact the value of your new home. When you’re looking to buy a home, like the one-third of Americans who say they’re planning to do so within the next five years, it’s easy to get caught up with the superficial issues or fall in love with historic charm. But it’s important to look for signs that something may be amiss under the surface. 

Take water damage, for example. This type of property damage can be caused by a catastrophic flood or a simple household leak, the latter of which can account for nearly 10,000 wasted gallons of water each year. When water damage isn’t assessed and rectified, the results can spell disaster for a home. It could even lead to mold growth, which can cause health problems in some individuals. If you observe any of the following, the home in question might have hidden water damage. It’s essential to find out for sure, as the answer might impact your offer or even your choice to buy the property at all.

Strange stains

Water stains, which are typically yellow or brown in color, appear in irregular shapes on walls and ceilings. They may be a sign of a leaking pipe or drain within a wall, usually one that exhibits and slow and consistent leak. These stains can often be found in bathrooms, basements, and laundry rooms due to their plumbing and high rates of water usage. Pay attention when touring these areas of a home and remember to look up to spot any suspicious stains that might be present.

Musty odors

Mildew has a distinctly musty smell that might remind you of wet newspaper. It’s definitely not a good sign in a home, as a mildew smell will likely indicate water damage or even mold growth. Basements and attics are prone to these odors, but it’s theoretically possible that any room could be affected. You may want to consider touring a home during the winter thaw or even after a storm to assess whether a musty smell might be present; this can actually indicate issues with a home’s foundation, which could be present if the homeowners have not invested in options for residential waterproofing in Stow, OH or elsewhere throughout the country. In addition, homeowners who seem to be heavily reliant on air fresheners or room infusers might be dealing with a musty smell that they’re attempting to cover up. Make sure to follow your nose when you tour a home.

Warped floors

Water damage can do a number on a home’s floors, so you’ll want to watch your step. Damp carpeting, cracked linoleum, random stains on wood floors should be a telltale sign of water damage, but warped or buckled floors can also indicate the same kinds of issues. At the very least, you might be dealing with excessive humidity, which could require you to replace those floors and purchase dehumidifiers for the home. Take a look at where you walk and take the flooring into account prior to making an offer.

Roof issues

In addition to what’s inside the home’s interior, the exterior of a property can tell you a fair amount about whether there’s any existing water damage. If you see signs of standing water around, this could be a sign of poor drainage, clogged gutters, and potential flooding (not to mention possible disease risk). You’ll also want to conduct a quick visual inspection of the roof. Missing or cracked shingles can increase the likelihood of storm-related flood damage, as well as representing some pricey repairs. Damaged flashing can also be a major problem. If you’re able to inspect the attic, this can provide you with information as to whether the roof could be detrimental to your decision to purchase the home.

Of course, you should always obtain a professional home inspection as part of your offer to ensure you won’t be obligated to purchase a home with substantial water damage. However, being familiar with the signs of flooding, leaks, and other water-related issues can keep you from falling in love with a property that would require too much work to restore.