Water and Moisture Damage – Common Sources

As home inspectors we know that water and moisture related damage are some of the most common and costly repairs that home-owners will come across. Indoor plumbing and water related moisture problems can lead to very costly repairs and are of high importance on any inspection checklist. The consequences of a leaking toilet or sink are only limited by the extent of the problem and the number of living spaces below. For occupants in a condominium or commercial high-rise, water can travel down through multiple suites causing damage at every step of the way.

Ceiling stains are invariably the sign of a water leak in the room above – typically a bathroom or a kitchen.

Bathrooms have a number of areas where water commonly causes problems but unfortunately not all of them are clearly visible. The most common areas are tiled shower stalls and tub enclosures. Ceramic tiles are, by nature, quite waterproof. The problematic area is the grout between the tiles. Traditional grout is cement based and porous; it requires sealing about ten days after the tiles are installed and on a yearly basis after that. Grout sealer is available wherever ceramic tiles are sold.

Showers and Tubs: Moisture behind tiles, unless severe, is not usually visible. If you look closely and see hairline cracks in the grout it’s a guarantee that water has migrated behind the tiles. Cracked grout can’t be sealed with grout sealer; the only solution is to replace the existing grout as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Knowing that this problem is common, home inspectors will use a moisture meter to assess moisture levels behind the tiles. If enough water accumulates behind the tiles they will eventually fall off, requiring a costly total rebuild of the tiled enclosure. The silicone caulking at the corners of the enclosure and where the tiles meet the tub must also stay intact and mold free to be functional, typically this is about 1 to 3 years.

Leaking sinks and toilets are commonly subject to water damage.

Sinks are easy to inspect as you can look beneath them to determine if the trap or water supply lines are intact. Look for rusted supply tubes and leaking water shut-off valves and drains. This area is also easy to repair because of its easy access.

Toilets: Leaking toilets can be difficult to diagnose since the symptoms are usually not visible. If the toilet is loose on the floor or there are stains around the base, it’s likely that the seal under the toilet needs to be replaced. The inspector’s moisture meter can identify moisture under the flooring and prompt recommendations for repair before the flooring and sub-floor start to deteriorate.

Kitchens: In kitchens most water issues are found under the sink. Areas of potential failure are the sink drain, the water supply to the sink, the sink trap, the waste disposal unit and shut-offs for water filters and dish washers. The most common leaks found here are the water shut-off valves and the waste disposal unit.

Don’t wait for water problems to find you!

As part of regular home maintenance, do a periodic check of the bathrooms and kitchens so that repairs can be done before significant and costly moisture damage occurs.  Contact our Vancouver home inspection company for more information or to Contact Us for a home, townhome, or condo inspection today.