How To Identify Water Damage That Requires Work

Water damage is a concern in almost any setting. You might wonder, though, how you can determine if something is just a mess to clean up or if it's a water damage restoration project. These four indicators of trouble will tell you whether it's time to consult with a professional who offers water damage restoration services.

Visible Staining

Nearly all types of surfaces will develop some degree of staining when exposed to water. Even if the water that caused the damage appeared to be perfectly clean, it can contain metals or other contaminants that don't become visible until the water goes away. What's often left behind is all the stuff that was soluble in the water, such as rust.

Visible staining can appear on surfaces like hardwoods, concrete, and even epoxy resin treatments. It can stay there, too, even after you've applied a good deal of elbow grease. Likewise, rubbing hard to get rid of the stain may discolor the affected area even more.


Particularly with wood products and some kinds of composites, water often enters and then exits the materials. This can cause the materials to expand during the initial stage and the contract as the water exits. The net effect is that the materials will bend or warp.

You'll especially see this problem in settings where the water dried quickly. For example, someone might have open a window to air a wood floor out. Unfortunately, the sun may have dried the wood out too fast, causing the wood to warp. Contractors often use professional-grade blowers and fans that have ultra-low settings to avoid the contraction process that usually triggers warping.

Persistent Mold

Spores for many species of molds can grow on surfaces after water damage has occurred. Frequently, you can wipe things off within the first few hours of seeing the trouble and that will be that.

However, water can stay inside of products like drywall, even if the materials don't seem moist. The first sign the water is still lurking may be when mold comes back even after you've washed it away. Another sign may be a funky smell.

Trapped Water

Water also has a knack for lurking in walls and between floors. Again, it might not be evident until, for example, there's a humid day and the water starts to permeate through the materials and make them mushy. Especially if you don't see signs of trouble until weeks or months after an event, the water damage may get worse and require professional attention.