To continue our series on water damage, we’re going to take a tour around the house, and show you what to look for to identify water or moisture damage in the rooms where water flows the most. If you missed the article on preventing water damage in the kitchen, definitely take a look at that – there’s definitely a lot to look for and some effective ways to avoid costly problems.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the bathroom. Now, the bathroom is probably the biggest culprit for water damage in most households not only because of repetitive, multi-person, daily use, but also because of the multiple plumbing systems (sinks, toilet, showers, baths) AND the steam factor.
Steam, on its own, can cause moisture damage to tile, walls, paint, ceilings and windows if you’re not careful. All of this steam settles on surfaces all over the bathroom, and can lead to mold problems over time.
Here are some routine inspections you can make to prevent water damage, moisture damage, mildew and mold.
Water Damage Prevention: Plumbing
Plumbing is tricky to inspect, because most of it is like an iceberg, below the surface and behind the walls where you can’t get an easy look at it. Because of this, water damage can happen invisibly, so you have to depend on senses other than sight to detect any problems.
First, make a point to listen for drips inside of the wall and beneath the floor. If you hear anything, even the tiniest drops, you could have a serious problem and should call a professional immediately. It doesn’t take long for mold to start forming and drywall or wood to begin deteriorating or rotting.
Leak Detection: Walls
Also, make a point to use your sense of touch. If a wall either inside or in adjoining rooms is moist to the touch, chances are you’re probably looking at water damage in the bathroom. If you see any discoloration, there is definitely a problem, and moisture damage is in progress – this requires immediate action.
Obviously, you need to make regular inspections under the sink and around/behind the toilet. Luckily you can use your eyes for this and look over all the visible pipes for leaks, excessive condensation and dripping.
Definitely look at the floor and wall tiles as well. These can be deceiving, because they are constantly getting damp from steam, showering and wet feet, so inspect them before showers are taken to make sure they’re not wet when they’re not supposed to be. Make it a point to use anti-bacterial (or bleach) cleaners on tiles, particularly in the grout between them – this will kill mold.
Moisture Damage Prevention: Exhaust Fan
Your biggest weapon against water and moisture damage is your exhaust fan. If you don’t have one, you should have one installed as soon as possible (like yesterday!). You should also make sure your exhaust fan is functioning properly – it’s easy to “not notice” if a fan is actually running – showers are noisy, and most people don’t really pay attention to the sound of a fan. If you can hear it, good, but that’s not enough – go outside (yes, it must direct air outside, not into an attic or basement) while the shower is running and make sure the steam is making it out.
The appearance of the fan can also tell you if your bathroom is accumulating too much moisture. Inspect the area of the wall surrounding the fan, and if you can remove the cover and look inside, make sure there isn’t dust building up inside or on the blades. This stuff is like a sponge and sucks up the moisture, preventing the fan from pushing it outside.
Doing these inspections regularly isn’t hard, but they’re easy to forget. Save yourself a lot of money in moisture and water damage repairs down the road and check for these things at least once a month.