Buying A New Home? Look For Signs Of Water Damage

Buying a New Home? Inspect For Signs of Water Damage

With so many houses on the market, there has never been a better time to buy.  Whether you live in the area or not, house prices are low thanks to the plethora of foreclosures within the last few years.  Sadly, when it comes to the housing market, one person’s loss is another person’s gain.  But not always.

While shopping for a new home or even a vacation property, it is important to know what the signs of water damage are so you can sport them long before you get into a potential buyer’s contract. 

Look For Signs of Water Damage

Knowing what to look for during your home search can help you greatly in the long end.  Not only will it give you an idea of the work that may need to be done to restore the home but it will flag the fact that the home does have problems.  Too often lately, home buyers are complaining of home inspections that did not show serious water damage or mold damage problems.  While home inspectors are supposed to record all findings of damage or problems to the home, some do not.

When observing for signs of water damage of a potential property to buy, begin with the exterior.  Start with the roof.  Are there any missing or damaged shingles? Bent or damaged gutters? Is the roof collapsed in any area? Is the chimney damaged or cracked? Are any areas of the roof or directly under the roof stained or damaged? Ask your realtor for their opinion.  Find out how old the roof is as well and when it might need to be replaced.

Next, check all exterior walls and windows.  Do you notice any collapsed walls? Are there any cracks or stepping in the walls? Are the exterior walls wet even though they should be dry? Are any windows broken or cracked? Can you notice any sign of water intrusion through any windows or window wells?

Finally, look at the lawn and backyard.  Are there any puddles or flooded areas? How does the ground slope” towards or away from the house? Does any of the landscaping look damaged or drowned? Again, talk to your Realtor through the process and ask questions.

Regarding the interior of the home, document anything you find suspicious and make sure you check everything.  Observe the walls, ceilings and floors.  Are any of the surfaces wet? Can you spot any cracks? Do you see any stains? A water stain on the ceiling may point to a roof leak, however if you have water pipes in the attic these may be the issue.  Look at the walls.  Do you see any signs of flaking, swelling or any discoloration or yellowing? Are any of the walls soft to the touch? Is the ceiling ballooning anywhere? Can you see any visible signs of mold?

While inspecting rooms, check for warped or damaged wood.  For example, check hardwood floors, baseboards and cupboards.  If you see any warping or bucking in the hardwood floors, it is most likely a sign of water damage.  Look closely for molds on wood.  If there is carpet, check for stains or areas of wetness.

Mold under sink from leaky pipes

Check inside cupboards for water stains.  Water stains in the bottom of your cabinets can be a product of a leak in your sink pipes.  In the kitchen, check to see if there is an exhaust fan: does it work? Also, check the bathrooms: do they have fans and do they work? In both kitchens and bathrooms, test fixtures to see if they are firm or loose.  Check the sink and the shower.  Is the sink or counter top stained? Look at the pipes under the sink.  Do you see any signs of rust? Listen to the toilet.  Do you hear water dripping? Look around the perimeter of the toilet as well.  Do you see any staining on the floor or any rust in the pipes? Look for leaky or slumping ground around toilet tank.  Inspect the bath area.  Is the bathtub damaged in any way? Look for mold buildup along the bathtub or shower stall perimeter.  How bad is the mold in the tiles?

Check all the windows and doors: are any cracked or broken? Do you see any evidence of water intrusion surrounding the perimeter of any windows or doors?  Also check electrical outlets and phone jacks: are they sunken? Is the wall around them soft to the touch?

If possible, look in the attic.  First off, do you see any obvious signs of black mold? Is the insulation wet? Does the attic smell musty? Do you see any cracks in the ceiling, walls or floors? Check the condition of the vents and ducts: are they wet or damaged? If there is a basement, look there as well.  Basements are notorious for water damage. First off, how does the air smell? If it is musty, that could be an indication of excess humidity or mold damage.  Is the foundation wet or cracked? Also check for signs of wetness or cracking in the walls, ceiling and floors.  Check the duct work: is it stained or damaged? Check the washing machine: is it properly connected? Are the pipes in good shape? If there is a laundry room sink, look for any signs of water damage by checking the faucet and underneath the sink.  Something to look for as well is where the water is draining in case of a flood.  Is there a sump pump? Are there drains in the basement floor?

Knowing what to look for in regards to signs of water damage when viewing a potential home or property can seriously save you future headaches.  If you find water stains or water damage anywhere in the home, it is likely an indication that water is coming in from the outside or from faulty details like poor plumbing or venting.  Always ask your realtor questions, use home inspectors who have great references and get a second opinion if necessary before you sign the purchase agreement.