Detect and Prevent Water and Mold Damage
Standing water on the floor is easy to see. Less obvious signs of problems include:
- Unexpected increases in your water bill
- Stains on walls, floors or ceilings
- Damaged or warped flooring
- Warped bottom panels in under-sink cabinets
- Peeling paint or wallpaper
- Corrosion on plumbing valves and fittings
Deal with problems as you find them. Clean up any water or moisture, locate the source and make repairs. Tracking down a leak isn't always straightforward — water can travel along components in the building structure, so the indications of the leak may be in a different part of the home than the leak itself. If necessary, contact a professional roofing contractor, plumber or water damage restoration specialist to help with identification and repair.
In addition to the damage that water causes, it can encourage the growth of mold on walls and floors — where it's readily visible — and in duct-work, attics and crawl spaces — where you might not notice it. A musty odor is a sign that mold may be present.
Mold can cause damage and lead to health problems — deal with it quickly. If the affected area is larger than 3 feet by 3 feet, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends you find a professional mold remediation contractor. For smaller areas, you can clean nonporous surfaces with commercial cleaning products, soap and water or a solution of a cup of bleach to each gallon of water. Follow the instructions and safety precautions for the cleaning product you use and wear appropriate safety gear. Porous surfaces such as drywall need to be replaced. For more information on mold in the home and how to clean it up, see A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home on the EPA's web site.
Inspecting common sources of water leaks and taking some simple preventative measures can be an effective way to reduce the risk of water damage and mold.