Don’t Get Left Underwater! Follow These Steps to Avoid Buying a House with Water Damage

By:    |   Published October 29, 2019
A man on a ladder inspects the gutters of a home with paint peeling from the trim.

Searching for a house can be exciting and, at times, overwhelming. Once you finally find “the one,” the last thing you want is to discover that you are the proud new owner of a house with water damage.  Buying a house with water damage can be a nightmare, especially if you are unaware of the damage prior to the purchase. The following tips can help you be an informed buyer and avoid unknowingly buying a house with water damage.

Look for Cracks

The first thing you can do to avoid buying a house with water damage is to check for cracks when shopping for a home. A thorough inspection of the exterior of the structure will likely reveal small cracks here and there. What you’ll want to really watch for are major, diagonal cracks which indicate bigger problems.

Signs of recent repairs can be another telltale sign of problems.  Although there are times that repaired cracks indicate that the homeowner took good care of the house, when several cracks across the foundation all appear to be recent fixes, it can be an indication that the sellers are attempting to hide some long-term damage to the house.

Inside the house, try to look at the same areas of the foundation for any cracks. Cracks on the inside can be a sign of more serious foundation problems; especially if they come all the way through the foundation from the outside. Serious foundation issues can mean that the home runs a higher risk for water damage.

Follow Your Nose

A house with mold near a window due to unresolved water damage

There’s an old saying, “The nose knows,” for a reason. Often you can smell a problem before you can see it. So, follow your nose and trust your sense of smell to identify potential mold problems. They are identifiable through their dirty, musty smells – which are a sure sign of moisture and mold. Using your nose is another way you can avoid buying a house with water damage.

It should come as no surprise that the most likely areas to notice these smells are basements. When mold is present in the basement, it can be an indicator of leaky pipes or a cracked foundation as well as other types of problems. Be sure to take a good sniff in areas that don’t get a lot of traffic such as rarely used storage as well. Places with moisture and a lack of airflow can be breeding grounds for mold.

Examine Hardwood Flooring

When you’re looking at homes, those with hardwood floors can make it easier to spot water damage issues. Walking along the sections of flooring and looking for signs of water damage like warping and buckling or places that delamination has occurred can help you avoid buying a house with water damage. Wood paneling can become warped from exposure to moisture as well, so pay close attention to any wood in a home you are considering for purchase.

Remember, if a home isn’t properly waterproofed, water damage can happen on any level. Don’t be surprised if upper floors, not just the basement, show signs of moisture. Leaky pipes can happen anywhere.

Drainage Issues

When water has nowhere to go the results can be severe. If it is possible, look at a potential home when it is or has been raining. You can get a good idea of the grading and drainage around it. Look for standing water near the foundation or improperly graded land around the home that forces water up against the foundation instead of guiding it away. If there is no proper drainage, the ground becomes saturated and the water has no place to go. Since gravity rules and water always finds the path of least resistance, it usually means it will find its way down around the home’s foundation. If that is the case, it’s a problem you’ll likely need to rectify sooner than later if you decide to buy a house with such issues.

Other things to look for to avoid buying a house with water damage are poorly-kept gutters and downspouts. If these systems aren’t doing their job and properly shedding water away from the foundation, you could be looking at big water damage problems. Without proper drainage, hydrostatic pressure builds and will eventually push waters into the home. This is why French tile systems and other drainage systems are critical to a home’s foundational well being.

Rust & Water Staining

Another thing you can do to avoid buying a house with water damage is to check metal surfaces in the home for signs of rust. When air and water come into contact with iron or an iron alloy like steel, iron oxide – or rust – is the result. This oxidization on metal surfaces (like pipes) happens over extended periods of time. Many times the direct cause of moisture is not visible; but you can often see evidence of long-term water damage from the rust left behind.

When a home has several rusted areas inside, there’s a likely chance of water damage. Whether from constant high humidity and condensation, or a direct result of flooding damage, rust is a telltale sign of water.

In the same way, walls and ceilings may show evidence of water stains if there are leaks behind them. If you notice water stains or rust spots it may mean high moisture in the air. However, the more spots you find, the more likely it is that waterproofing work will be necessary.

Should You Buy a House with Water Damage?

You may be wondering if the house you’re looking at is no good if you’ve noticed it has one or more of the signs of water damage discussed above.

The fact is, most homes will face moisture issues at some point. Time is often the culprit and an aging house is likely to have experienced an issue with water along the way. You don’t necessarily have to pass on a house with water damage because there are waterproofing options available depending on the severity of the problem.

When you progress through the buying process, part of the inspection process can include you hiring your own waterproofing inspector. You may even have a clause which would allow you to back out of the purchase depending on the results of the findings.

It is possible that a waterproofing inspection results in only minor necessary fixes. In such a case, there’s a possibility that you end up getting a good deal on a nice home that you are able to fix rather easily.

Schedule Your FREE Annual Foundation Inspection

The best way to protect your future home from water damage is with professional waterproofing. EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you find out if your home is at risk for water damage and which solutions will best serve you.

Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!

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