Posted by: Karim Ali

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How to spot water damage?

Water damage is a costly concern in homes. We’ve talked about looking up at the ceiling, but you’ll be surprised to learn you should also lower your gaze.

As you look at homes for sale, you’ll want to keep a keen eye for water damage. You might’ve (or might have not) noticed that we wrote a previous blog post on the subject – here are two additional ways to identify potential water damage in a house. Being aware of these signs can save you from unexpected issues down the road.

When you embark on your real estate journey, whether it’s the quest for your first home, the search for a lucrative investment property, or the desire to find a place to call your own, there’s a world of excitement and opportunity awaiting you. However, along with the joy of house-hunting and exploring the possibilities, it’s equally crucial to equip yourself with the knowledge that can safeguard your investment and ensure the longevity of your dream home.

One of the challenges that homeowners and homebuyers frequently face is water damage. It’s a silent threat that can impact your property’s structural integrity, aesthetics, and your peace of mind. In our previous video, we touched upon the significance of recognizing water damage and shared initial insights.

Today, we’re delving deeper into the subject by introducing two critical indicators of water damage: warping or buckling flooring and baseboard clues. These telltale signs can provide you with early warnings, helping you identify and address water damage before it escalates into a major problem. So, let’s dive into the intricacies of water damage detection, equip you with the knowledge you need, and ensure that your real estate journey is not only rewarding but also informed and proactive. 

Here’s how to spot water damage in your future home:

Flooring: Warping or Buckling

The flooring in your home plays a vital role in both aesthetics and functionality. Whether you have the elegance of hardwood, the convenience of laminate, or the durability of tile, one common enemy they all share is excessive moisture. Water damage can take its toll on these surfaces, and it’s crucial to recognize the signs.



Unusual Shapes and Textures

One of the initial indicators of water damage in your flooring is the emergence of unusual shapes and textures. Instead of a smooth and uniform surface, you might notice bumps, ridges, or uneven areas. These irregularities are clear signs that moisture has infiltrated the flooring material. Such inconsistencies can make walking uncomfortable and pose tripping hazards, so they’re worth paying attention to.





Alongside physical irregularities, be on the lookout for discoloration. Water damage can cause the wood or laminate to change color, becoming darker or discolored in patches. For tiles, you might observe that the grout lines appear stained or discolored, even after thorough cleaning. These color changes aren’t merely aesthetic; they signal the presence of moisture that can weaken the structural integrity of the flooring material.




Unexplained Gaps


If you notice unexplained gaps between floorboards or tiles, it’s a strong indication that moisture has caused the materials to expand and contract. When moisture content fluctuates, materials can swell and shrink. As a result, you may see spaces where there were none before. These gaps can compromise the integrity of your flooring and affect its overall look and feel.


When you encounter these signs, it’s crucial to investigate the source of the moisture. It could be a leaking pipe, damaged roof, or poor insulation. Addressing the root cause is vital to prevent further damage and maintain the longevity of your flooring.


Baseboard: Stained, Warped or Bulging?

Baseboards are often underestimated when it comes to identifying water damage, but they can offer valuable insights, especially in areas prone to moisture issues, like basements.


Stains and Dark Spots


Pay close attention to your baseboards, especially in the basement or other areas prone to water intrusion. Water damage often reveals itself as stains or dark spots along the baseboards. These marks are visual indicators of past or ongoing moisture problems. Stains can vary in size and intensity, but they should always be investigated. Their presence can be indicative of a more extensive issue, such as leaks in the foundation or plumbing.


Swelling, Warping, or Bulging


In more severe cases, you may notice the baseboards themselves showing signs of damage. Water damage can cause the baseboards to swell, warp, or even bulge away from the wall. These physical changes are direct consequences of prolonged water exposure. When you encounter baseboards that are no longer flush with the wall, it’s a clear indication that moisture has affected the structural integrity of the wood. Such physical alterations can also compromise the overall aesthetics of your home.


Identifying issues with your baseboards, even if they seem minor, can be a red flag for underlying water problems. It’s essential to investigate the extent of the damage and address it promptly. Ignoring the issue can lead to further problems, such as mold growth, structural damage, and compromised indoor air quality.


What to Do When You Find Water Damage 

Discovering water damage in a potential home doesn’t necessarily mean you should walk away from the property. It’s an opportunity to address the source of the problem and negotiate possible solutions. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do when you identify water damage:


  1. Document the Damage: Take photos and make detailed notes about the water damage you’ve observed. These records will be valuable when discussing the issue with the seller or during negotiations.
  2. Identify the Source: Try to determine the source of the water damage. It could be a leaking roof, faulty plumbing, poor drainage, or other issues. Understanding the source is crucial for effective repairs.
  3. Consult a Professional: Consider hiring a qualified home inspector to assess the extent of the damage and identify any underlying issues that may not be immediately visible. Their expertise can provide valuable insights into the situation.
  4. Negotiate Repairs: Once you have a clear understanding of the damage and its source, you can negotiate with the seller for necessary repairs or adjustments to the sale price. Having documented evidence will strengthen your position in these negotiations.
  5. Consider Future Prevention: Think about how to prevent water damage in the future. Discuss potential solutions with the seller and consider investing in improvements that will protect your investment and the structural integrity of the property.
Remember, discovering water damage can be an opportunity to address a problem rather than an automatic deal-breaker, depending upon your tolerance for risk. It’s important to note many water damage issues can be resolved effectively, especially when identified early and when both the buyer and seller are willing to work together to find solutions.



Your Real Estate Journey

Real estate is an exciting and rewarding journey, whether you’re looking for your first home, an investment property, or a new place to call your own. Along the way, learning to identify potential issues like water damage is an essential skill for any homebuyer. It not only ensures that you make a well-informed decision but also helps you maintain the value and integrity of your investment.


If you’re eager to continue learning about real estate or have specific questions about the process, don’t hesitate to follow me for more valuable insights. And if you’d like to discuss real estate over a coffee, it’s on me! Your journey to becoming a more informed and savvy homebuyer starts by getting in touch with me here.


Bonus tips for Water Damage


It’s enticing to negotiate repairs completed by the seller, but you’re often most better off by negotiating a reduction of the price and taking on the repairs yourself. A seller will be driven to complete the job in the fastest, cheapest way possible before they pass-on ownership of the home to you.


It’s a good idea to hire third party help such as a home inspector to determine the extent of the water damage, but home inspectors won’t always be in tune with the most updated cost of repairs in your market. Take the time to get a professional’s quote to make sure you’re negotiating with accurate information and estimates. It’s in your best interest!

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