How to Find a Water Leak Inside the Wall: 6 Quick Steps

Last Updated on March 4, 2020 by Diana Rodriguez-Zaba

It doesn’t set off alarms. You can’t hear it or see it. Left undetected, it can cause serious damage to sheetrock and even affect floors and ceilings. A slow water leak hidden inside the walls of your home creates a damp environment that breeds mold and rots wood.

As well as you stay ahead of repairs around the house, do you know how to detect water leakage in walls?

Through our water removal services here in Chicago, we see so many homeowner headaches caused by water leaks inside walls. When you know what to look for, it’s easier to spot a hidden water leakage problem.

How to Find Water Leaks Behind the Wall: 6 Solid Clues

When a frozen pipe bursts or a drain backs up, you know something’s wrong right away. You quickly identify the source, pinpoint the problem and take care of repairs.

When a slow leak starts inside your home’s walls, it doesn’t attract attention, but it does leave solid clues. If you know how to detect water leakage in walls, you can minimize potentially serious damage. Be on the lookout for these six signs of water leaks behind your sheetrock.

1. Persistent Musty Odors

As water slowly drips from a leaky pipe inside the wall, flooring and sheetrock stay damp and develop an odor similar to wet cardboard. It generates a musty smell that can help you find hidden leaks.

2. Mold in Unusual Areas

Mold usually grows in wet areas like kitchens, baths and laundry rooms. If you spot the stuff on walls or baseboards in other rooms of the house, it’s a good indicator of undetected water leaks.

3. Stains That Grow

When mold thrives around a leaky pipe, it sometimes takes hold on the inside surface of the affected wall. A growing stain on otherwise clean sheetrock is often your sign of a hidden plumbing problem.

4. Peeling Wallpaper or Paint

This clue is easy to miss in rooms that don’t get much use. When you see wallpaper separating along seams or paint flaking off the wall, blame sheetrock that stays wet because of an undetected leak.

5. Slowly Warping Sheetrock

Over time, sheetrock wicks up moisture from a slow leak, and that can cause the wall to develop bends and curves. Warped sheetrock is a sure sign of a slow water leak.

6. Buckled Ceilings and Stained Floors

If ceilings or floors in bathrooms, kitchens or laundry areas develop structural problems, don’t rule out constant damp inside the walls. Wet sheetrock can affect adjacent framing, flooring and ceilings.

Testing Your Suspicions

water meter
A water meter test can help you determine if there’s a leak in your house.

Figuring out how to detect water leakage in walls takes a little investigative work. If the clues add up and you want more evidence of a hidden leak, use your home’s water meter to test your suspicions by following these simple steps.

  • Make sure all faucets and appliances in the house are turned off.
  • Take a look at your home’s water meter, and note the usage numbers.
  • Don’t run any water inside or out for at least three hours.
  • Check the usage numbers on the meter again for any changes.
  • An increase in the readout means you have a leak somewhere in the house.

Finding Solutions to Water Leakage in Walls

When you’re dealing with a slow water leak behind a wall, it’s often easier, safer and quicker to bring in an experienced water damage and restoration contractor. The DIY route includes drying out and replacing damaged sheetrock, and you have to address plumbing repairs too. When you call in a company that specializes in this kind of work, you:

  • Leave the entire job in the hands of certified technicians.
  • Count on advanced repair, cleaning and restoration techniques
  • Know mold removal and remediation are taken care of
  • Don’t navigate insurance paperwork by yourself.

Help You Can Count On

water leakage expert
Professional water damage restoration technicians can uncover and fix wall leakages.

Watching out for hidden leaks can help keep wall leakage repair jobs small and manageable. We enjoy sharing information you can use around the house, so let us know when our posts make a positive difference. Just join our online community through our Comments Section.

If you spot any of signs of leaks inside your home, give us a call right away. We’re ready to respond with a full line of water damage restoration services across Chicago and the suburbs. When you need help solving homeowners’ headaches, you can count on ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba.

Does a water leak behind a wall always mean there’s mold?

In most cases, yes. Once drywall and insulation become wet, mold sets in and begins to grow within 24 hours. Undetected, it quickly spreads through the dark, humid environment.

Why does water leak into walls when it rains?

Rain that leaks through a roof can seep down into framing and drywall. Overflowing gutters and bad seals around windows are also sources of rain water inside walls.

Where can I buy a wall water leak detector?

Look for moisture meters online or at the home improvement store. The tools are available in several models, and most can detect dampness in a range of building materials.