The problem with hidden water leaks inside walls is the “hidden” aspect. Household water supply lines routed through walls are usually 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch pipes under a typical residential water pressure of 40 to 60 pounds per square inch. A total rupture of a supply line inside a wall becomes conspicuous very rapidly and typically warrants emergency service by a qualified professional plumber.
On the other hand, slow seepage and drips due to leaky pipe joints, internal pipe corrosion, and other small sources may continue unnoticed and unabated for some time. Eventually, however, these initially minor leaks may progress to a major rupture that can’t be ignored.
Unseen water leaks inside walls don’t mean that significant damage isn’t already ongoing. Potential consequences of ongoing water leaks include:
- Rotted internal wooden structure
- Deteriorated drywall
- Ruined insulation inside the wall
- Damage to electrical wiring and other components
- Toxic mold growth that spreads contamination to other parts of the home
Here are five initially subtle signs that may indicate water leaks inside walls:
- Musty odors. Wet wood, drywall, and insulation inside the wall cavity rapidly become a starting point for toxic mold. One of the characteristic signs of mold contamination inside walls is a pungent musty odor that pervades the immediate area and doesn’t go away.
- Visible mold on walls. Drywall is absorbent. Moisture absorbed from hidden leaks inside the wall may permeate the material and trigger visible mold growth on the exterior surface of the wall. Mold may appear as a mottled discoloration on the wall.
- Unexplained stains. Water permeating drywall from the inside may also create noticeable stains or darkening of the wall surface.
- Peeling paint or wallpaper. Chronic moisture present inside the wall deteriorates paint and dissolves wallpaper adhesive on the outside of the wall. Peeling paint or wallpaper that no longer adheres in a certain spot can be a giveaway of water leaks inside the wall.
- Wall deformation. As saturation from hidden water leaks spreads throughout drywall material, the wall may appear to sag or bend. At that point, the drywall may be structurally unsound and in danger of collapsing.