A woman dealing with a water leak in her wall

Is a Water Stain a Sign of a Wall Leak?

With big water leaks, it’s easy to tell where and what the problem is when a pipe bursts or a drain backs up in your home. Stained walls can indicate a larger, and oftentimes, unseen problem. Water leaks in your walls are much more discrete and can cause irreparable damage to sheetrock, floors, and ceilings.

How to Look for the Telltale Signs

These are things that could show up in or around your home’s walls if a possible leak has occurred.

Puddles at end of walls

If the floor is constantly wet in a certain area of the home, it’s most likely due to a water leak within your walls.

Mold in unexpected places

Indoor mold or mildew growth is most often seen in wet spaces like the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room. If seen on the baseboards or walls of other areas, though, this is a sign of an undetected water leak.

mold on a wall

Discolored floor or ceiling

Leaking water will eventually cause the outer walls to develop some discoloration, eventually leading to stained walls. Be aware if any areas seem lighter or more washed out than usual with an outer ridge of brown.

Peeling or bubbling paint/wallpaper

Water stains can also be accompanied by a change in wall and floor textures. Look out for paint bubbling or paint separating from the walls, or floor darkening and expansion. Water leaks can make visible changes to walls and floors.

white wall cracked with moisture

Musky smell

In some cases, the water leak may not be visible, in which case, you may rely on your sense of smell. Dripping water never has time to dry out, producing a musky odor akin to wet cardboard.

Dripping sounds

After turning off the shower or faucet, listen closely for faint dripping sounds in the walls.

The water bill goes up

According to the EPA, the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home. Water leaks may cause a substantial increase in water usage, and consequently, a spike in your water bill.

Water Meters Can Help Detect Wall Leaks

If all of the clues add up to a water leak in your walls, but you want a more definitive piece of proof, consider using your water meter as an indicator. First, turn off all faucets and water appliances in the house. Check the home water meter for usage numbers. Your water meter is likely located in front of your house near the curb. Don’t run water for at least 3 hours.
Check usage numbers for changes–an increase means you have a leak.

In Need of a Water Leak Diagnosis?

Here at Quarter Moon Plumbing, AC, and heating our board-certified plumbers can help diagnose any leaks in your home. Leaks can lurk anywhere within your home and can cause bigger issues down the road. Catch them early and call an expert to resolve the issue quickly. We know life emergencies don’t always happen during business hours so feel free to call us on our 24/7 hotline at (210) 651-5899.