Nine Signs Your Home May Have a Water Issue

Water damage can lead to serious structural issues and health concerns if not addressed promptly. Here are nine signs that could indicate you have a water problem.

Unexpected Increases in Water Bills: If you notice a sudden spike in your water bill without a corresponding increase in usage, it could signify a hidden leak or other water-related problem in your home.

Wet Spots on Floors, Walls, or Ceilings: Look for persistent damp spots on your floors, walls, or ceilings. This could be an indication of a hidden water leak or poor drainage.

Sudden Appearance of Mold or Mildew: Excessive moisture in your home can lead to mold or mildew growth. Not only does this signify a severe water issue, but it can also negatively impact your health, causing allergies and respiratory problems. Keep in mind that mold requires a steady source of water for it to grow.

Sagging in Walls or Ceilings: Water accumulation can lead to structural damage over time. If your walls or ceilings start sagging or warping, it’s a clear sign of prolonged water exposure.

Persistent Musty Smell: A recurring, unpleasant odor in your home may indicate the presence of hidden mold or mildew, suggesting a water issue. If the musty smell persists despite cleaning, investigate further.

Cracking or Buckling in Floors: Water damage can cause wooden floors to buckle or tiles to crack. If you notice these changes and can’t attribute them to normal wear and tear, it might signal a water problem.

Stained or Discolored Areas: Unusual stains or discolorations on your home’s surfaces can indicate water damage, especially if they are yellow or brown. This could be due to roof or plumbing leaks.

Changes in Lawn or Garden: A leaking water line can lead to unusual changes in your yard. Look for patches of particularly lush vegetation or sinking areas in your yard due to the excess water.

Decreased Water Pressure: A drop in water pressure could indicate a significant leak in your home’s plumbing system.

Water issues in your home should never be ignored. If you notice any of these signs, addressing them immediately is essential to prevent further damage. Remember, the quicker you act, the better.


What Are Some Affordable Ways to Make Your Home More Attractive to Buyers?

This week’s column is inspired by an email I received from Brock Pardo of PunchListUSA. His company is in the business of helping sellers fix problems identified in buyers’ inspection objections. Toward that end, he also offers free pre-listing consultations and quotes. (I offer free consultations too, but I’m not a contractor, so I can’t give quotes, just refer you to my vendors for implementing suggested repairs or improvements.)

Being in that business, Brock’s email contained a “top ten” list of issues which could be addressed affordably prior to putting a home on the market, resulting perhaps in selling that home for more money.

Usually, when I get an unsolicited email with a top ten list, I find that it’s not the top ten items I would have selected, but this time I found that I agreed with all of them, so I’m going to publish his list, but with my own elaborations.

1) Fresh coat of paint. Brock cited a report that interior painting returns a 107% return-on-investment, and exterior painting a 50% ROI, but I’d add that it depends on condition. If your home has a faded pastel exterior color popular in the 1990s with or without peeling paint, I’d say that a fresh paint job in a more up-to-date color would make a huge difference in first impressions and the number of showings that are set and offers that you receive.

2) Landscaping improvements. These can be quite affordable and, again, make a huge difference in the first impression that your home makes. A couple months’ service by Lawn Doctor can make a big difference in your lawn’s appeal, as can a load of fresh cedar chips for your non-grassy areas.

3) Upgrading lighting fixtures. Those “brass and glass” chandeliers and sconces are so 1990s, and are inexpensive enough to replace with, for example, brushed nickel fixtures. And even if you don’t replace any fixtures, replace all your incandescent or CFL light bulbs with affordable LED bulbs. The best deal on those, I’ve found, are 8-packs of 60-watt equivalents for $2.75 (34¢ each) from Batteries+Bulbs. (Don’t put your CFLs in the trash. Take them to Home Depot for recycling, because they contain mercury.)

4) Minor kitchen updates. You don’t have to replace your Formica countertop unless it’s damaged or a really bad color, but replacing the faucet on your kitchen sink is an affordable upgrade. Also, I like to see knobs and pulls on kitchen cabinets, and you can get affordable ones, as Rita did, at Hobby Lobby, of all places. Maybe paint or repaint your kitchen cabinets — white is a good choice. Beyond this, I’m happy to bring my stager and consult with you on further upgrades, because kitchens can make a huge difference, and certain improvements are worth considering.

5) Bathroom upgrades. Replacing those 1990s plastic Delta faucets is a no-brainer! And you can find some affordable replacement vanities at home improvement stores.

6) Replace or clean wall-to-wall carpeting. Unless your carpet is shag or damaged, cleaning it professionally is sufficient and affordable. My preferred carpet cleaner is Bruce Ruser of New Look Dry Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning, 303-697-1584, who uses an environmentally friendly system that utilizes plant-based ingredients. The website explains his process.  We use Bruce ourselves.

7) Replace older appliances. These can be affordable. Look for Energy Star ratings, too. I had a 1990s listing with its original white kitchen appliances. It just sat on the market until the seller replaced them with new appliances.

8) Install new door and window hardware. Brock quotes a 2021 Zillow report claiming that updated hardware has up to an 80% ROI, but I’d like to see your current hardware before suggesting this update.

9) Declutter and organize. This is more about staging than repair of something. We provide a free staging consultation for all listings, and our report always recommends decluttering, thinning and organizing.

10) Deep clean your home. Again, this is a staging matter. And it’s a no-brainer! We can refer you.

That concludes my version of Brock Pardo’s “top ten” list. I’d add the following two items:

11) Wash your windows. You’ll need to remove screens when you wash your windows, so don’t reinstall them. Label and store them in your basement or garage. Removing window screens has a effect similar to washing your windows, greatly improving visibility. If any of the screens are damaged (including sun damage), most Ace Hardware stores can rescreen them affordably.

12) Update your moldings. At a recent open house, a would-be buyer objected to the older stained wood moldings on the walls. She said they should be white, and I realized that she’s right. You could paint them white (priming first with Kilz), or replace them all with plain white moldings from a home improvement store.

Do you have your own suggestions of additional items? Let me know, and maybe I’ll feature them in a future column or on our blog.