How to Find Water Leaks in Your Apartment Building

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 18, 2024

Water leaks in commercial properties cause expensive long-term damage. Apartment building leaks are especially costly when they flood units and soak tenants’ belongings.

Preventative strategies make a big difference.

As a property manager or building owner, you work hard staying ahead of potential problems. You can’t predict burst pipes and plumbing leaks, but they’re easier to find when you know what to look for.

This guide can help.

How to Find a Water Leak in an Apartment Building

Hidden plumbing breakdowns make water bills skyrocket. Roof leaks turn attic spaces into breeding grounds for mold. Water in the basement ruins stored equipment and supplies.

You can’t always stop the damage, but you can minimize it with a building water leak detection routine.

Apartment Building Roof Leaks

When water leaks through commercial roofs, it’s not easy to figure out where the leak is coming from. These tips can help you find the problem.

apartment building leak
  • Get a better idea of a roof leak’s location by marking areas directly under drips with tape.
  • Keep in mind that water seeping through a roof often travels several feet before it turns into a solid leak.
  • After the weather clears up, check the roof for loose flashing, clogged gutters and bad shingles.
  • Make sure roof valleys are properly sealed and roof membrane covers aren’t exposed.

Leaks in Building Envelopes

Water seepage in multi-story properties can be caused by problems within the building envelope. If you suspect water is leaking in from the outside, investigate these possible trouble spots.

window apartment leak
Cracked caulking around leaky windows is a trouble spot.
  • Blistered exterior paint is often a sign of leakage inside the building envelope.
  • Soggy ground and excessive plant growth near foundations may be due to leaks in exterior walls.
  • Check riser pipes for defective valves, drains and backflow preventers.
  • During the winter, routinely inspect water lines and pipes that might freeze and burst.
  • Look for worn flashing or cracked caulking around leaky windows and dormers.

Interior Building Leakage

Tenants are usually the first to spot water leaks between floors. However, drips in hallways and stairwells can go unnoticed. Put these leak detection tips on your list of preventative maintenance.

mold inside apartment building hallway
Mold is a sure sign of water leaks
  • Keep an eye out for mold growing on common area carpets, floorboards and interior walls.
  • Warped baseboards are often caused by pipes leaking inside walls.
  • Locate ceiling leak sources by looking one floor up for broken toilets, burst pipes or faulty sprinkler systems.

Leaks in Building Basements

Apartment building basements serve as laundry rooms, tenant storage and maintenance work spaces. Exposed pipes make it easy to spot plumbing leaks in the basement, but don’t overlook these clues.

basement flooding in apartment
Basement flooding in apartment buildings can be caused by faulty plumbing
  • Moldy smells or puddles around washing machines are usually caused by broken hoses and connections.
  • White efflorescence stains on basement walls can indicate leaks in underground pipes adjacent to the building.
  • Damp areas on basement floors and walls can result from gutter, downspout and drainage problems.

How the Pros Do It

When you’re dealing with hidden building water leakage, the solution is almost impossible to find. That’s when you need certified technicians who use high-tech equipment designed for hidden leak detection.

moisture meter for water damage
Pros use professional water leak detection meters

Restoration professionals take care of the job with precision tools that pinpoint leaks behind walls, under floors and inside crawl spaces. They use electronic moisture meters and thermal imaging cameras to locate leaks, and they handle most plumbing repairs. Industry-trained technicians also restore water-damaged materials and address mold issues.

Need Help Detecting a Water Leak in Chicago?

Trying to locate apartment building leaks isn’t easy. The clues aren’t always as obvious as warped baseboards or moldy drywall. When you can’t find the problem, we can help.

Every day, we work with property managers across Chicago, IL and the suburbs to solve all types of water-related issues.

Our teams take care of small plumbing repairs, water damage restoration and certified mold removal and remediation, and much more.

Give us a call here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba for 24 hour help with detecting and repairing apartment building water leaks: 773-647-1985

How can you locate the source of a building water leak?

Try to trace the moisture’s track from the wet area back to a source. If the problem is hidden behind a wall or inside a crawl space, call in restoration professionals.

How do you find a slab leak in an apartment building?

Signs of a building slab leak include water pooling on ground floors, damp areas on outside landings and puddles next to foundations. Restoration technicians use special equipment to pinpoint the exact leak location.

Do water leaks in apartment buildings always cause mold?

Unless they’re taken care of immediately, leaks will cause mold to grow on surrounding materials. After repairs are completed, plan on certified mold removal and remediation.