7 Tell-Tale Signs of Bathroom Water Damage to Watch for Before Buying That New House

Modern luxury bathroom

According to a 2018 study, about 40 percent of Americans consider buying a house to be the most stressful thing they’ll ever do in their lives. Additionally, about 45 percent of people admit that they feel nervous throughout the entire process of buying a home.

And can you blame them? There are so many things that can go wrong when you’re purchasing a home! From finding out that a home has foundation issues to discovering a water damaged subfloor in a bathroom, you need to be extra careful about inspecting a home for signs of trouble prior to closing on it.

Water damage in a bathroom is one thing that you should be especially concerned about since it could lead to expensive repairs down the line. Here are 7 tell-tale signs of bathroom water damage to look out for in a home you’re thinking about buying.

1. Visible Mold Growth

In many cases, it’ll be difficult for you to tell whether or not a bathroom has sustained some kind of water damage. But it will not be difficult to do when you see mold growing on walls and other surfaces throughout a bathroom space.

Mold is the most obvious sign that water has done damage inside of a bathroom. In fact, mold is a sign that the water damage that has been done has spiraled all the way out of control.

There are some people who will try to hide mold while selling a home by wiping it away. It’s not all that hard to get rid of mold when it starts to show up on bathroom surfaces.

But wiping it away won’t get rid of the larger problem. The mold is likely being caused by a leaky shower or plumbing pipe somewhere behind your walls. Learn more here about what could be leading to mold growing throughout a bathroom.

2. Discolored or Weak Walls

When you’re thinking about buying a home, walk around inside of the home’s bathrooms and feel the walls.

Do the walls feel soft to you? If they do, that’s often a sign that the walls are getting wet as a result of a leak somewhere behind them. Over time, the soft walls will often start to crumble apart as more and more moisture penetrates their surface.

It can take a long time for a leak to cause issues with bathroom walls. But once it starts to happen, it’s not all that difficult to spot the problem. Make sure you pay attention to what the walls inside of a home’s bathrooms tell you.

Attic bathroom

3. Missing Grout or Caulk

One of the other things that will start to happen when water is penetrating through walls is that tiles that are up on the walls will start to get loose. This will take place when the water begins to cause gaps to form in grout and caulk.

While you’re checking out the walls in the bathrooms of a home, you should also take a look at the tiles that are up on them. They can tell you quite a bit about any water damage that might be affecting a home’s bathrooms.

4. Cracked or Buckled Flooring

The floors that are placed inside the bathrooms of a home are specifically designed to withstand high amounts of moisture. No matter how wet they might get, they should stand strong against any moisture they encounter.

But if you have a serious plumbing problem on your hands, water might be able to get in underneath your floors and cause extensive issues. When this occurs, the flooring in a bathroom will often start to crack and buckle.

5. Water Damaged Subfloor

Water can damage more than just the flooring in a bathroom when it gets in underneath of it. It can also lead to water damaged subfloor in many instances.

The subfloor that’s placed beneath bathroom flooring is typically made out of plywood, which is, of course, not waterproof. Plywood will start to rot when it’s exposed to water too often.

When the plywood rots, it’ll make the entire floor in a bathroom feel unstable. Some people have also described a water damaged subfloor as feeling “spongy.” It’ll seem like the entire floor is going to give out at any moment, and it very well could if the plumbing problem in a home isn’t fixed. 

Bathroom with a damp smell

6. Damp Smell

At first glance, everything inside of a bathroom might look like it’s in great condition. There is no mold in sight, no issues with the walls or flooring, and nothing else to be all that alarmed about.

But what is that smell? If a bathroom smells musty or damp, that alone should serve as a huge red flag. It means there was water damage inside the bathroom at some point in time.

Trust your nose when you’re standing inside of a bathroom in a home you might want to buy. If you suspect that there could be water damage somewhere in the room, it’s always a good idea to get an expert opinion on it.

7. Wet Ceilings

When we say wet ceilings here, we’re not talking about the ceilings in the bathrooms in a home. Instead, we’re talking about the ceilings under the bathrooms in a home.

Do any of those ceilings look wet, or do they have the slightest hint of discoloration? If they do, it could be a strong indication that something isn’t right with the bathroom above.

There could be a leak in a pipe that sits just above the ceiling. There could also be some other kind of leak in the bathroom. You’ll need to do some digging around before you buy a home that has a ceiling that’s on the verge of collapsing.

Dark bathroom with possible water damage

Avoid Buying a Home With Extensive Bathroom Water Damage

You might love everything about a home and think it’s perfect for you and your family. But if it has extensive bathroom water damage, you should still think twice about buying it.

Something like a water damaged subfloor could end up being more costly than you think. It could also lead to other problems in your bathroom over time and make it tough to sell your home later.

Look for signs of bathroom water damage during a home inspection. Read our blog for tips on conducting the most thorough home inspection possible.

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