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Spring Cleaning is a Great Time to Detect Water Damage

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Spring cleaning sometimes reveals welcome surprises: that missing sock you’ve been looking for since last November, the lost reading glasses you replaced a month ago. Another unsuspected discovery during this annual housekeeping binge could be evidence of ongoing water damage. Spring cleaning can reveal telltale clues that have gone unnoticed during your normal daily routine.

While you’re clearing out last winter’s clutter and getting the house ready for summer, be alert to these subtle signs of water damage:

  • Unexplained ceiling stains. If you can’t wipe them away during spring cleaning, maybe there’s another explanation: migrating water leakage. If a second-floor bathroom is situated approximately above first-floor ceiling stains, one likely suspect is the shower stall. Leaky connections to the water control valve recessed inside the bathroom wall may be at fault. Leakage from the shower drain pan sealed underneath the stall is another possibility.
  • Hidden appliance leaks. Enthusiastic spring cleaning can take you places you don’t normally see. For example, removing the kick plate on the front of the dishwasher and inspecting underneath with a flashlight. Slow drips from a leaky dishwasher drain hose or defective pump may be rotting wood flooring beneath the unit without any external signs. In the laundry room, check washing machine supply hoses and connections. Any drips or evidence of seepage is not just evidence of unseen water damage to the wall and floor behind the washer, it could also be a warning sign of an impending hose rupture that could cause catastrophic indoor flooding to the house.
  • Persistent odors. Throwing open the windows and airing out the house is a spring cleaning tradition. If that musty smell you’ve been noticing lately doesn’t go away, however, it could be a sign that mold triggered by unseen water damage is growing somewhere in the house. Moldy odors that don’t dissipate should be a red flag to have the house inspected for presence of active mold growth as well as the hidden water leakage or moisture that feeds it.

With Water Damage, What You See Is NOT What You Get

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

The visual effect of water damage inside your home can be shocking and discouraging enough: large pools of water where it doesn’t belong, saturated carpets, soaked furniture. But its real impact is often the consequence of what you can’t see. Water damage usually isn’t an isolated incident you can point one finger at. It’s an ongoing sequence of events that continues unabated until professional intervention with proven techniques interrupts the process.

Here are some results of water damage you may not see at first glance but may have to deal with eventually:

  • Extreme humidity. Water inundation causes humidity to soar within the enclosed confines of a house. Water vapor migrates invisibly into areas of the home apparently untouched by the water itself. The effect of extreme humidity can damage absorbent building materials as well as many valuable possessions such as photographs, books and sensitive electronics.
  • Hidden migration. Water flows through any tiny gap or opening, invasively spreading far and wide. By the time it’s even noticed, water may have seeped under baseboards and into wall cavities where the damage process proceeds sight unseen. It can penetrate flooring on an upper floor and begin slowly saturating the ceiling below (visible signs may not appear immediately). Metal components may not show evidence of contact with water until rusting appears much later.
  • Mold growth. Microscopic airborne mold spores pervade deep into the structure of any home. Until contacted by water—or even unusually high indoor humidity—these hidden spores remain dormant. When water damage occurs, however, mold growth is inevitably triggered, often in unseen locations within the house. Active mold growth becomes a concealed source of toxic airborne reproductive spores that may cause allergic reactions and illness in susceptible individuals.
  • HVAC damage. Water on the move may seep into ductwork routed through seldom visited areas like the attic and crawl space, causing hidden deterioration that leads to loss of heated and cooled air. Roof leaks can silently ruin attic insulation, degrading the effectiveness of the material and leading to unwanted heat gain or heat loss inside the living spaces of the house.

How to Detect and Remove Mold in a Crawl Space

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

mold in crawl spaceWhen mold remediation professionals search for the origin of contamination inside a house, the crawl space is usually a prime suspect. Cool temperatures, moisture, absence of ultraviolet sunlight and ample food sources like cellulose in exposed wooden structure make that cramped space beneath your floor a perfect breeding ground.

Microscopic airborne spores released by active mold growth may continuously infiltrate living spaces above through tiny cracks and gaps. When inhaled, toxic spores may cause allergic reactions and other chronic physical symptoms.

Is The Crawl Space Contaminated?

Thriving mold growth in the crawl space is often unnoticed by residents. Even when it’s suspected, the signs may be ambiguous:

  • A chronic musty odor emanating from below. It’s hard to miss, but it may be dismissed as simply common mildew or moisture-related issues.
  • Splotchy growth visible on wooden surfaces in the crawl space such as trusses and subflooring. The growth may be fuzzy or flat. Coloration is typically white or black, but may vary into greenish or purplish hues, too.

Because not everything that looks like mold is mold and not all mold types produce mycotoxins that trigger reactions in humans, inspection, air sampling and testing by a qualified mold remediation specialist is critical to confirm presence of mold and determine the type of growth.

How Is Mold Eliminated?

Successful mold remediation incorporates a two-fold approach:

  • All active mold growth must be located and physically removed. Then, contaminated surfaces are sterilized with EPA-approved disinfectants specially formulated for the type of mold. Where growing mold has penetrated the surface of wooden building materials, those components may need to be replaced.
  • To prevent recurrence, conditions that promote mold growth in the crawl space must be addressed. Moisture sources such as water intrusion during rain and plumbing leaks should be eliminated. The dirt floor may require a plastic vapor barrier to keep out rising soil moisture. In dry climates, addition of vents to increase crawl space cross-ventilation may discourage mold. Conversely, in humid climates, sealing the crawl space entirely and making it a conditioned zone of the house may be preferable.

How to Spot Signs of Water Damage When Buying a Home

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Among the secrets you want to know about a house you’re considering buying, a history of past water damage is high on the list. A water damage incident can present a costly issue for future owners years later. Serious structural damage and established toxic mold growth are among the permanent consequences; cosmetic effects are also evident to the eye.

water damage disclosureConspicuous signs of past damage—or quick fixes to cover it up while the house is for sale—frequently indicate that qualified professional water damage remediation services were not utilized at the time of the incident. This is a red flag that could, in fact, ultimately turn out to be a deal-breaker. It’s always wise to have a certified home inspector conduct an in-depth evaluation before committing to buying a home that shows evidence of water damage issues.

Here are some signs to look for:

  • Keep alert for musty odors, especially in damage-prone zones like the basement. These are typically indicative of ongoing mold growth resulting from past and/or present water damage.
  • Check for ceiling water stains. There’s rarely a good alternate explanation for stains on a ceiling. A water leak—somewhere, sometime—is usually the origin of it. Ask the present owner.
  • Test the solidity of flooring around tubs, shower stalls, dishwashers and washing machines. If it feels spongy or is sagging, the floor structure may be compromised by past water spillage.
  • Inspect hard flooring. Signs such as buckling, warping, cracks and de-lamination may indicate that the floor was saturated by water at some time, then improperly dried.
  • Open cabinets. Look inside cabinets under sinks for stains and other discolorations that are telltale signs of a supply line or drain leak.
  • Up in the attic. Look for signs of roof leakage that usually manifest as dark streaks on the underside of the roof sheathing. Check attic insulation for evidence of mold triggered by past roof leakage.
  • Down in the basement. Unexplained puddles, dripping, and noticeably high humidity mean you’ll be dealing with a chronically wet basement. Streaked basement walls or discolored floor caused by ground water seepage and/or past flooding is another tip-off.

How To Spot Early Signs Of Water Damage

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

early water damage signsSigns of water damage will eventually be hard to miss—structural deterioration, damaged possessions, toxic mold growth. However, early indicators can be more subtle. Because the effect and extent of water damage inside a house is very time-sensitive, reputable professional water damage remediation services operate on a 24/7/365 basis to get to the scene ASAP. The earlier signs of water damage are recognized by the homeowner and help is summoned, the less complicated the ultimate ramifications will be.

Here are some early warning indicators to be aware of:

  • Changes in flooring. If water is seeping into subflooring due to a saturated foundation or leakage in pipes routed through the crawl space, tile may loosen without explanation or even any noticeable wetness. Linoleum can peel and laminate flooring may warp.
  • Evidence on walls. Sagging, saturated drywall is obvious. More subtle signs of water leakage inside walls, however, include paint that is peeling or bubbling. Cracking may appear in drywall as small amounts of water on the inside of the wall cause the material to swell and retract without appearing soaked.
  • Stains and spotting. Walls may exhibit stains or spots that may be permanent or appear and then fade. These may be mere discolorations or obvious signs of mildew or mold that indicate hidden moisture inside a wall—a leaky water supply line or roof leakage that has migrated down into wall voids, for example.
  • Musty odors. These are the giveaway to mold growth somewhere in the house. Mold doesn’t grow without the presence of moisture so, unless you have a high natural relative humidity inside the house, you can assume there is a plumbing leak somewhere or water seeping in from outdoors.
  • Sounds of water running. Late at night when the house is quiet, can you hear the subtle hiss of water running in the plumbing system or sounds of dripping inside walls? Mark any spots where you can hear water in motion for further investigation.

At Rytech, Inc., water damage remediation is our profession. To learn more about the advance signs of water damage, contact us today.


How to Spot Water Damage in Your Home

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

how to spot water damage in your homeSome water damage in your home is easy to spot. If you’ve got a wading pool in your basement, for example, or a waterfall splish-splashing through the ceiling of a downstairs den, the matter is settled. However, other water damage can be much more subtle, as well as chronic, and may do significant damage before anyone in the house realizes what’s going on. Covert water leaks not only damage structural components, they are a primary source of moisture that triggers toxic mold growth. Be aware of these signs of silent water damage in your home and consult a professional water damage expert ASAP.

Unexplained Stains

Brown or dark stains on ceilings or walls are a red flag for water leakage. Since household water lines and drain pipes are typically routed through wall voids and beneath flooring, small leaks will eventually manifest as stains. By the time stains are visible, substantial damage may already be done.

Crumbly, Swollen Drywall

Drywall wicks up water very easily and swells, eventually deteriorating into crumbles. The wall material may feel soft to the touch and even disintegrate under pressure. Wet drywall is ground zero for mold growth.

Buckling Hardwood Floors

Absorbed water causes wood flooring boards to expand. Because they are nailed or otherwise secured at both ends, the boards will usually buckle due to the stress of expansion.

Hard Water Residue On Pipes

Spots of white, dusty residue on water supply lines may be evidence of tiny pinhole leaks that have been spontaneously sealed by hard water deposits. Minor pinholes on the outside of pipes often indicate major corrosion internally, which may cause a catastrophic pipe rupture and severe water damage at any time.

Suspicious Odors

The musty smell of unseen mildew is one giveaway: Mildew thrives in an atmosphere of continuous moisture, which may indicate a hidden, ongoing leak. Another indicator is the smell of rotting wood that may emanate from water seeping somewhere, saturating wooden structural members.

If you see or suspect signs of water damage in your home, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.