In Michigan, we have the benefit of an abundant of fresh water. Not only are we surrounded by the Great Lakes, our state has a massive number of inland lakes. That’s great for activity, but not so great when it comes to moisture. Factor in the wet season and weather common in Michigan, and you’ve got a recipe for regular high humidity that can created a lot of problems with mold and water damage.

Problems with drainage and standing water around the home, leaking windows, roof, and other places where water can penetrate like your foundation can lead to costly water damage.

Follow this simple guide to spot key signs of water damage around your home.

Where Water Damage Comes From

You might thing that water damage stems from busted pipes, but while that can be difficult to detect and cause significant water damage, it’s not the only source. Even the exterior of your house and your foundation are susceptible, especially given their exposure to the elements.

The longer you go without spotting and repairing the issue, the worse the situation becomes and the costlier the water damage restoration.

The most common causes of water damage include:

Burst and leaking pipes, which carry water throughout your home. As mentioned, when the pipes are in the walls it can be difficult to spot a leak before significant damage has already been done. Slow leaks that develop over time can be some of the most damaging.


The basement often experiences problems with water accumulation, especially in Michigan homes. When you have a cracked and leaking foundation, that water can infiltrate the foundation and leak into the basement. Homeowners with a finished basement are highly susceptible to mold growth and water damage within finished walls, carpeting, furniture, and personal belongings stored in the basement.


Water can accumulate in the attic due to poor ventilation and leaks. As it accumulates, it will intrude into the home with little outward sign of trouble until it’s too late. With the insulation, this area is particularly susceptible to mold growth and can be costly if the water damage restoration is sought quickly.

Air Conditioner

You wouldn’t expect a simple comfort device to create a water damage problem, but they can be a significant source of moisture in your home. This isn’t just referring to window units, but entire HVAC systems built into your home. These systems collect moisture and drain them from the home. Sometimes, the drain lines can become clogged and back up into your home.

What to Look For in Detecting Water Damage

Water damage can take on different forms, providing a variety of visual cues depending on the location. For example, you’re likely familiar with the tell-tale sign of water damage in the ceiling due to discoloration.

Water Accumulation

Water gathering anywhere in your home is a good indication that water damage is occurring or will happen if the issue isn’t corrected. Standing water in your home is usually caused by failing appliances, pipe leaks, as well as leaks in the structure of the home.


As mentioned, you’ll commonly see discoloration in the ceiling but the floors and walls of your home can also show discoloration. Water spots and stains may appear wet, or even dry, and can vary in color from a light yellow to a brown or copper color. You may even spot bubbles in the paint, or sections that are cracked and peeling.

Texture Variances

Water damage isn’t always visual. Sometimes the texture changes. Flooring can show significant changes in texture as well as the actual structure – the same with trim molding. This is caused by expansion from the water being absorbed by the wood along with structural stress while the wood is wet.

Warping is common with water damage and is caused by changes in humidity and temperature. This can create gaps and curling edges in floor boards. Ceilings and wallboard can also warp from water damage.

Buckling happens when one side of the wide in a wood floor becomes detached from the substrate. The wood will tent in some places, making it buckle.

Flooring will also sag and sink, and you may detect soft spots in the texture and structural integrity of the wood due to water damage and rotting.


Odor is one of the most obvious signs of water damage if you know what to look for. Mold and mildew have very distinct odors and can come from anywhere mold is beginning to grow such as basements, walls, floors, under counters. It’s the same as the musty smell left over from a damp towel that hasn’t dried. If left long enough, you’ll likely spot visible discoloration and the visible signs of mold – such as green or black spots – if left for too long.