How to spot and repair hidden damages in your home

June 19, 2017

From water leaks and mould to problems with termites, underlying issues in your home sweet home can grow worse and become damaging if you aren’t paying attention. This overview discusses some common problems you may encounter while offering some solutions to get things back on track.

How to spot and repair hidden damages in your home

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Tools: Keyhole saw, hammer, wrecking bar, bucket, sponge, spray bottle.

The importance of home maintenance

Homes are like relationships — in order for them to survive, they need proper attention. You need to be on top of things and make sure your home (whether it’s a house, condo or apartment) is properly maintained and up to current building codes.
Some common household problems are harder to spot than others, so it’s important to know what to look for, whether you’re dealing with water, mould or termite damage. [Photo credit:]

How to handle water leaks

Detecting a water leak in its early stages can prevent serious damage and save a lot of money. Here are some ways to know if you may have a leak:

  • Monitor your water bill. If it’s going up and your habits haven’t changed, it could suggest a hidden water leak.
  • Check your water meter. To do this, shut off the meter and watch to see if it changes after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If it does, you likely have a water leak somewhere in the home.
  • Look for visible stains in your drywall or discolouration on wallpaper and ceilings.


  • If you have determined there is a water leak, look for the source. This will require some exploration and observation.
  • Depending on the amount of water damage done, you should be able to fix most situations yourself. This involves removing the compromised drywall and cutting out the damaged area.
  • In cases where there has been severe water damage, call in a professional to repair the source of the water leak as well as damaged walls and/or ceilings.

Good to know!

Depending on how long the water has been leaking, there could be mould present. To protect yourself, wear gloves and a mask when you remove the mouldy drywall.

The facts on mould and mildew

Mould and mildew thrive in humid areas and are more prevalent in damp places, such as shower stalls and basements. Living in a mouldy environment can lead to many problems, including breathing difficulties and allergies.
Warning signs of mould in your home include:

  • A damp, musty smell.
  • Visible signs of mould, including black spots and clusters of grey-brown, grey-green or white marks.


  • When mould is discovered in the home, you need to determine the size and extent of the mould colony before it can be removed.
  • Professional services are required for large mould infestations, but you can do some things on your own to repair basic damage.
  • Small patches of mould and mildew growing on non-porous areas such as bathtubs, tiles and countertops can be removed with a solution of chlorine bleach and water (approximately one part bleach to 10 parts water).
  • Apply the solution using a spray bottle, or by using a bucket and sponge. Rinsing is not necessary unless small children or pets will come in contact with the area.

Good to know!

If you keep your home well ventilated, you can decrease your chances of developing mould and mildew.

Warning signs of termite damage

Because so much of termite damage occurs within the walls of a structure, it can be difficult to know if you have a termite problem. By the time your floors are sagging, a termite issue is well underway. Here are some signs you should pay attention to:

Termites (dead or alive):

  • Winged termites are usually the first sign. They are attracted to light, so swarming termites can be found near windows, door vents and light fixtures.
  • Worker termites are light-coloured and move quickly when exposed to light.

Mud tubes:

  • Termites nestle in mud tubes, which have a flattened, muddy appearance that are the length of a thin straw. Look for them along cracks beneath flooring, pipes, baseboards and other fixtures.

Hollow wood:

  • Check for termites by tapping the wood along the walls, baseboards and windowsills every few inches with a screwdriver. Damaged wood sounds hollow.


  • Practice prevention by removing all loose wood vectors from contact with the lowermost point of your house.
  • Seal visible foundation cracks to prevent termites from entering your home.

Your home is your haven, and you should be able to relax and enjoy its comforts. However, hidden damages can wreak havoc if you’re not paying attention. By keeping some basic warning signs in mind, you can help prevent unpleasant and potentially costly problems from ever taking hold.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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