How to Detect Water Leaks Behind Walls

Water damage on causing bumpy wall

Sometimes water damage can occur without you even knowing it. And because water damage isn’t always obvious, it can cause considerable damage before it is detected. A slow leak may lurk inside the walls of your home before any damage is visible. So how do you fix a problem you can’t see?

Learn how to determine if water is leaking behind the walls and what you can do to fix it and mitigate the damage.

Water Leaks Behind Walls Spell Disaster

Although a leak may seem like a minor problem, it can cause catastrophic damage to your home over time. This type of damage is progressive—the sooner it’s addressed, the more affordable the fix will be.

Water damage remediation costs vary based on the location of the leak and the amount of damage sustained. A leak of any size hidden behind a wall should be addressed immediately after it’s discovered by a professional water damage remediation technician.

Signs of Water Damage in Walls

It may take time for a small leak to make itself visible. Depending on the source, the water may have to travel a distance before reaching a surface that will show obvious signs of damage.

While water damage from a leak is most often discovered through staining, there are other signs of which you should be aware.

Be vigil. Keep an eye out for signs of damage, including:

  • Coughing and sneezing: While not always immediately visible, excess moisture behind a wall can create the perfect environment for mold growth. Mold thrives in damp, dark, and stagnant spaces—like the space between the exterior of your home and its interior walls.

    Mold spores are known allergens. An uptick in coughing, sneezing, and allergy symptoms may indicate that mold is thriving somewhere in your home.

  • Unexplained musty odors: A new persistent musty odor often accompanies water damage. Like a rise in allergy symptoms, the onset of a musty odor is a sign of hidden water damage.

  • Drips or unexplained noises: While some plumbing noises are common, a small but consistent drip or a new whooshing noise that originates from behind your walls may indicate a leak.

  • An unexpected increase in water or energy bills: An increase in your home’s water bill (for homes using municipal water systems) or energy bills (for homes with well water) may indicate a hidden leak.

  • Discoloration, peeling paint, or wallpaper: Water damage is often discovered as it seeps through the surface of a material, like drywall, and damages the finish. Water damage often manifests on walls or ceilings as a stain and may also cause paint or wallpaper to peel.

Related Topic: Hidden Places Mold Can Grow in Your Home

How to Detect the Source of a Water Leak Behind a Wall

Better safe than sorry. If you suspect a leak, it’s important to contact a local plumber. A plumbing professional can detect a leak and make the necessary repairs. A plumber will use tools like a moisture detector or infrared camera to locate the leak before opening the drywall to access your plumbing.

But the necessary repairs may not end with a visit from the plumber. Even a small, undetected leak can cause damage over time that necessitates professional water restoration. We work with property owners throughout the US and Canada to ensure that water damage is properly remediated, including complete mold removal, remediation, and drywall restoration.

Related Topic: Oh No…My Dishwasher Flooded the Kitchen!

How to Stop Water Leakage from Behind Walls

If you suspect water damage, we recommend the following:

  • Locate the associated water shut-off valve for this portion of your home and turn it off. Newer homes will have shut-offs associated with specific rooms or utilities; older homes may have a single shut-off to the main water line.

  • Contact a plumber and then your local Rainbow Restoration.

  • Alert your insurance provider of the potential damage (your homeowner's insurance policy may help cover a portion of your service).

  • Consider any other sources of possible leaks. Are your gutters clean? Did your roof suffer damage from an ice dam or fallen limb? Is your basement or crawl space moist? Are there any water-based appliances like a dishwasher or washing machine near the suspected leak? Provide this information to your technicians.

Suspect a Leak? Let the Pros Help

If you suspect a leak or would like the peace of mind that comes with a thorough plumbing inspection, contact the plumbing pros at your local Mr. Rooter.

If you have water damage as a result of a leak, contact the restoration professionals at your local Rainbow Restoration to remediate the damage and restore your home as soon as possible. Don’t leave your restoration up to chance. Our technicians are IICRC-certified, and all our work is backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise. Contact us at (855) 724-6269 now or visit us online to get started.