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How to Tell If Water Damage is New or Old

Wondering how to tell if water damage is new or old? Water damage is a scary pair of words to most homeowners and incites quick action, but before beginning to sound the alarm, it is vital to figure out if the water damage is new or old.

Water Stains
Water Stains on Ceiling, Small Brown Spots on Ceiling, Water Damage on Ceiling

This can be helpful for many reasons as knowing how long the problem has been taking place can give clues to how serious the problem is. Problems that have been happening over a shorter period are often (not always) easy to repair.

How to Tell if Water Damage is New or Old

  • New Water Damage will be one dark water spot and surface will feel firm.
  • Old Water Damage will have dry water rings and surface will feel squishy.
  • Mold will appear to have gray or black specs.

Throughout this article, we will take a look into the various signs of age in water damage spots. The main factors we will look into is your home’s history, and various physical (visual and tactile) aspects of the water damaged spots. Water damage can appear in many ways, so it is best to inspect thoroughly.

House History (Recognize Signs)

If you begin to see signs of water damage in walls, ceilings, baseboards, etc. or even before you see the signs, it is important to know the history of your house. Unless your home is brand new, chances are different pipes, water systems, and other various things in your house are all different ages. Older things are more susceptible to breakage and damage. This means you should pay extra attention to areas of your house that are older or beneath older areas. Knowing challenging areas of your house can help you catch leaks while they are still new. If you watch an area and suddenly something appears, you know it can not be all that old.

How to Tell if Drywall is Wet
How to Tell if Drywall is Wet, Water Damage, Recognize Water Damage Spots,

Additionally, you should be sure to know the materials your house is made out of. If your walls, ceilings, or floors are made out of tile or even just painted thickly, even small amounts of visual damage can hint at build-up that started a long time ago.

Visual Cues (Water Rings & Spots)

The age of water damage can be estimated the same way people figure out the age of various trees: by the rings. Newer spots will be one dark spot, but older water damage spots will begin to develop rings. The older the spot, the more rings it will have. If there are lots, it is most likely a problem that has been developing for a while.

Second, if you see mold, that means the water has been there for at least a few days as it takes at least that long for bacteria to colonize. Mold will usually appear as small black or gray specs on your ceiling, walls, or floors. If the mold has spread beyond where the water damage is directly visible, it can hint water damage that has been building up over a more extended period.

How to Tell If Water Damage is New or Old
How to Tell If Water Damage is New or Old, How long does it take for a water stain to appear, How to tell if drywall is wet

Finally, if you notice decay, this means that your house has been exposed to consistent standing water over a lengthy period of time. Typically, decay only happens in extreme situations such as flooding. If you notice your house decaying, it is time to take immediate and drastic action.

Tactile Cues (Squishy or Firm)

The final cue you can use to estimate the length is found by actually touching the water damaged spot. If you are concerned about mold, it can be best to wear a mask and gloves when doing this. Gently press on the spot to figure out how old it is. New water damage will not have had time to weaken the drywall or other material, so while it will feel wet, it will still feel hard. On the other hand, older water damage spots will feel squishy, and you will be able to move it without much pressure or force.

If you begin to notice water damage in your house, it is best to take quick action, but sometimes it can be hard to catch right away. You can use these tips on how to tell if water damage is new or old to figure out some important information. For more information, our water damage professionals here at National Restore can assist in water restoration needs and natural disaster consultation.