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Water damage

7 Signs of Water Damage in Walls

By April 20, 2021One Comment
7 signs of water damage on walls

Water damage is unfortunate when it happens in a home. Often, it is hard to see what is causing the damage or that it is even happening. However, there are signs you can look for water damage in walls. Those are wet or dark spots, cracking, bubbling, flaking, smell of damp, mold, or musty to name a few.

Lets take a look at why you need to know the signs, how to fix leaks, other maintenance, and when to contact a professional.

Why You Need to Know the Signs of Water Damage in Walls

Sign 1: Wet or Dark Spots

Dark spots on the walls usually mean that the water is fresh and new. It takes 1-24 hours to show on the wall. Yellow, brown, white, or chalky means that it is an old stain. However, that doesn’t mean that the problem was solved. The only problem is that you can’t see inside the wall.

Cracking, bubbling, and flaking

Sign 2: Cracking, Bubbling, and Flaking

Knowing what the signs are of water damage in the walls may help you find a problem before it is out of control or very expensive to fix. If a larger area gets wet, it usually expands thus causing cracking in the wall. If the inside of the wall is wet, then the drywall or paint will bubble or flake.

Sign 3: Sounds of Running Water

Water damage in walls is not only by sight but also by hearing. Put your ear against the wall and listen if you can hear any water running. You are listening for dripping water, or rushing or running water.

Sign 4: Increase in Your Water Bill

If you notice an increase in your water bill and nothing has changed in the family routine, there could be a water leak. Start with your water meter.

First, you will record the number on the water meter.

Second, turn it off for about 3 hours. After 3 hours, turn it back on and record the number. If there is an increase in the number, then you know you have a leak in the indoor plumbing and need to look for any of the signs above. If you don’t find any, contact a professional for help.

Sign 5: Musty or Damp Smell is a Sign of Water Damage in Walls

This is a strong and distinct smell. It is like a wet newspaper or wet cardboard smell and usually potent near where the water leak is. Also, you may smell it before the water shows up on the wall. That doesn’t mean there is a water leak, remember, you can’t see inside the wall.

Mold or Mildew

Sign 6: Mold or Mildew

Small brown or black dots are the start of mold in a home. An inspector can tell you where it is coming from.  If it is an area that is 3×3, it can be cleaned. An area bigger than that needs a professional.

Sign 7: When it Rains, Water Comes into the Home

It is raining and it looks like it is coming in through the window. How is that happening? It could be the rain is coming in through the window or it is the siding or the roof runoff coming in.

Here are 7 places in the house you might find a leak

How to Fix the Leaks

Contact a professional to come out to find the leak. Many will use a thermal camera to look for color differentiation in the walls to try to pinpoint where the leak is coming from. This will allow them to open up the wall in one place instead of destroying the entire wall.

Other maintenance
Clogged gutters need to be cleaned out so the water can flow through the downspouts. If not, the gutters will back up water into the home

Other Maintenance

Gutters- make sure the gutters on the house are clean so the water can flow through and down the downspouts and out to the yard.

Carpet– check for mold on carpets. If there is mold, clean it if possible.

Water heater– make sure the water heater is working because if it gets too hot, you want it to shut off and not send scorching water out.

Negative grading– look at the yard and see if it has a downward slope as the yard should slope away from the home. If not, then you will have negative grading and could end up with more water in the home via the basement or foundation.

When to Contact a Professional

Contact a professional if you see or hear any of the signs listed above. Catching the water issue early can help keep the costs down. Don’t try to fix water issues on your own, contact someone who is trained. Not to mention, tearing apart the home is not worth it.


Water leaks in the walls can cause a lot of damage. Taking care of maintenance is a great idea to avoid issues. However, sometimes they can’t be avoided. We will keep an eye out for water marks and water leaks when conducting home inspections in McDonough, Ga. Think you might need our services? Comment below.

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