5 Signs You Have A Hidden Water Leak In Your Bathroom

Left unchecked, even a small leak can eat away at your bathroom flooring and walls, necessitating costly repairs. While it's easy to see and hear a dripping valve, many bathrooms leaks are hidden behind walls or beneath plumbing fixtures. Knowing these 5 signs of hidden bathroom leaks can help you schedule needed plumbing repairs before things get exponentially worse. 

1. It smells musty in the bathroom.

If your bathroom smells so much your eyes begin to water, you may very well have a hidden water leak.  Standing water that accumulates from a hidden water leak usually has a musty, sour, or earthy smell.

Give your bathroom a good cleaning, and then see whether the smell returns. If the smell does return, call a plumber who can search for bathroom leaks. If the smell does not return, perhaps your bathroom simply needed a good cleaning.

2. You notice stains on the ceiling or on the walls.

Discoloration, peeling paint, and stains on the bathroom walls, or on the ceiling of a room below the bathroom, can indicate long-term contact with water. This usually signifies a water leak.  Since water damage can travel, you may notice damaged walls or ceilings in rooms that aren't close to the bathroom. These stains may still indicate a hidden bathroom leak.

Drywall and plaster soak up water like a sponge. The longer they remain in contact with water, the greater the potential for structural damage that requires costly repairs. If you notice staining on walls or ceilings, contact a plumber to fix the water leak and a contractor to evaluate the integrity of walls, ceiling, and flooring.

3. Your floor feels spongy or shows signs of cracking.

Bathroom flooring problems are a clear sign of water leaks. Floors do not receive enough water from daily bathroom usage to develop water damage unless there is a hidden leak.  When water leaks from your toilet, sink, or shower into the flooring, it can begin to erode the subfloor materials or the flooring itself.

You may notice that a linoleum or vinyl floor feels soft or spongy when you step on it. Or you may discover that your tile or wood floor shows signs of cracking or warping.  Either way, if your bathroom floor begins to show signs of wear and tear, contact a plumber before the damage gets so bad that you need to replace the entire floor.

4. You have recurring mold or mildew.

If you go long enough without cleaning your bathroom, mold and mildew will develop. However, if you clean your bathroom regularly and you find that mold and mildew keep coming back, you may have a water leak. Since mold and mildew require a wet environment to grow, their recurring presence can be a sign that the moisture in your bathroom exceeds normal levels.

5. It sounds like the water is running, even when you're not using it.

If it sounds like water is running, but you are not using the sink, shower, or toilet, you probably have a water leak. If you are sure the bathroom fixtures are turned off, and the taps themselves are not dripping, the sound of water running indicates a problem. Additionally, it adds up to more water usage. This wastes water and drives up your water bill.

If you see any of these signs, take action right away. Delaying action, even if it's because you think you cannot afford repairs, is inadvisable. The longer you wait, the greater the damage to your walls, flooring, pipes, and bathroom fixtures. You'll end up spending more money to fix what could have been a simpler plumbing repair