Does Your Bathroom Have Hidden Water Damage?
When water leaks into your home, mold can grow in just 24 hours. This makes even the smallest leak a serious concern. It is clear that when you see this water inside of your house it needs to be dealt with right away, but what if you can’t see the water coming in? Hidden water damage is particularly common in bathrooms, and it can cause an array of problems including mold, bacteria, and structural damage.
Step One: Find The Cause Of Hidden Water Damage
The first step in repairing bathroom water damage is finding the hidden leak that caused the issue in the first place. This is important because it allows you to treat the entire affected area, not just the area that seems to have water damage. The places you'll want to check include the shower or bath tub, the toilet, and the bathroom sink. You will also want to check the piping behind these objects.To check the shower for leaks, splash water in the cracks around its edges to see if the damaged area pools with water. Check the drain for leaks by filling the tub with one inch of water and letting it drain while you watch for leaks. The sink can be checked around the edges and through the drain as well. The toilet should be checked when flushing. If these objects are not leaking and you are still experiencing hidden water damage, it is most likely caused by excess moisture left in the air after baths and showers. Excess moisture is often left when homes do not have bathroom moisture control tools.
Step Two: Repair Water Damaged Area
When you begin treating the affected area, check for mold and mildew. Be careful if there is mold present; if there's a small amount of mold on a hard surface you can clean it with bleach, but a porous surface covered in mold will need to be thrown away. If the mold is covering an area larger than ten square feet, you will need to call in a professional for clean up. This is important because mold exposure can cause coughing, headaches, itchy eyes, sore throat, or nose bleeds.
Next, dry the problem area. You can use a large fan to dry the space before beginning work, and it is best to leave this fan running for between 24 and 48 hours. Any porous areas that are still damaged after being dried will need to be removed and replaced. These materials include sheetrock, wood flooring, padding, and insulation. Any non-porous material such as tile, tub walls, or bathroom fixtures, should be scrubbed with bleach water and dried again. The best bleach solution for removing mold is one part bleach to ten parts water.
Step Three: Prevent Future Occurrences
If the leaks were coming from the edge of a bathtub, shower, sink, or the bottom of a toilet, the cracks will need to be filled with silicone. Be sure to do this when the areas are dry, since the caulking will not stay put on damp or wet surfaces. If the water damage was caused by excess moisture in the air, a bathroom ventilation fan will need to be installed to prevent future damage. If the piping was the issue, the leaky pipes should be repaired or replaced by a licensed plumber.
Water damage can be a difficult setback to deal with, especially when it is hidden. Remember to always take care of the damage as soon as possible. When you find the problem, clean or replace the affected areas and stop the leaks from occurring in the future. By following these steps, your bathroom can once again be clean and water damage-free.