Water leaks can be sneaky as they can be small and in hard to notice areas such as behind the toilet or under the sink. Even small leaks can be dangerous as water can damage the wood that makes up the structure of you home. There are a few ways that wood can become damaged from water such as wood rot and structural damage from absorbing the water. If you spot mold, wood rot, or structural damage, call a plumber to find the source of the leak and get it repaired.  

Wood Rot/ Mold Damage 

Mold and fungi need organic food such as wood, water, and ideal temperatures to thrive. Moisture from a leak can increase mold growth as mold won’t grow in dry conditions, this mold will break down the organic material such as wood and absorb it for nutrients, weakening the area. This decay is known as wood root and can cause an unsafe environment in your home. If you notice mold, check the area for dampness and see if there are areas of the wood that are soft as soft wood means the wood’s integrity has been compromised and needs replacing. 


When wood absorbs water, it can result in physical damage of the wood. Within minutes of absorbing a large amount of water wood can start to crack, warp, or buckle depending on the type of wood and structure such a flooring or lumber. Besides the wood, water can also damage the stain or finish of wood and can wash the dye out of some fabrics.  

How can you spot water damage or signs of a leak? 

Water on the floor  

Water on the floor is usually the most obvious sign of a leak. Where the water is might not be where the leak is as water can run down plumbing or can be coming from behind the walls. Don’t forget to check appliances as the leak may have come from a failed connection.  

Water Stains 

Water stains are a sign of water behind the surface. This water may have come from a plumbing leak or another common source of water stains are a roof leak.  

Wood Texture Changes 

If the surface of wood has changed it can be a sign of water damage. Depending on the wood there may be some major changes such as warping, buckling, and cracking, however they may be smaller changes such as bubbling or stain running. There may also be some visible mold growth.  


Mold and fungi can leave an odor. You might not see any visible mold however mold may be growing behind the surface such as in the carpeting padding or behind the walls. Mold spores are almost always in the air so home mold test kits usually are inaccurate. A professional industrial hygienist can perform a mold test that will list how many mold spores are in your environment and what types of mold there. A moisture test from a moisture meter can also reveal a hidden leak.