4 Clear Signs Your Floors Have Water Damage Underneath

Think your floors might be hiding secret water damage? If you’ve noticed unusual changes in your home’s flooring, it could be hinting at a much larger issue lurking beneath the surface – water damage. 

While signs of water damage under floor can be hard to detect, especially in the case of wood flooring, we’ve identified four clear signs you may need to contact a professional.

From wood floors to tile, no floor type is immune from the damaging effects of harmful leaks and flooding.

Whether it’s buckling wood boards, discolored tiles, or a hard-to-pin-down musty smell – knowing how to identify the early signs of water damage can save you time and money down the road. Pinpointing water damage underneath your floors can help you better assess the risk of structural damage — and get help sooner.

Clear Signs of Water Damage Under Floors

Buckling or warping of the flooring is a clear sign that there is water damage underneath.

1. Buckling or Warping

laminate flooring swollen from water damage underneath the floor

One of the most visible signs indicating water damage underneath your floors is noticeable buckling or warping. This occurs when enough water has seeped into the boards, causing them to swell and move out of place. This could be from severe flooding to the tiniest water leak.

Buckling or warping floorboards can make walking an uneven affair and if left unchecked, could escalate into a more serious structural issue in your home. Imagine setting down a glass of water only for it to slide towards one side due to an uneven table – that’s what could happen with severe warping on wood floors.

2. Discoloration or Staining

Stains and discoloration on your wooden floors or tiles can be an alarming sight, often indicating underlying water damage. The clear sign comes in the form of yellow, brown, or dark stains appearing ominously on your floor coverings— a disturbing kiss of moisture exposure.

This puzzling change is more than just an aesthetic concern—it’s a significant hint towards leakage problems from faulty appliances such as washing machines and water heaters, perhaps even a burst pipe hidden behind the walls.

Notably, leaks under sinks are also a common cause of staining and warping that interferes with the structural integrity of your prized laminate flooring or tile floor. Equally worth mentioning is that discolored patches could occur due to roof leaks trickling down onto ceilings which eventually seep unnoticed onto hard-pressed hardwood floors over time.

If left unattended, these subtle signs might escalate to severe water damage beyond mere DIY repair – leading to toxic mold growth emitting unpleasant odors throughout rooms within reach.

3. Visible Mold or Mildew 

Closeup of moldy floor showing signs of water damage under floor

Mold or mildew growth is a significant indicator of water damage beneath your floors. This potentially harmful substance flourishes in wet conditions often caused by various factors like high indoor condensation levels, leaky water pipes, or even minor water leaks that go unnoticed for extended periods.

One key sign of this hazardous growth is visible mold. You might notice dark spots appearing on wood planks of laminate flooring or in between hardwood flooring – these are usually colonies of mold and could indicate serious water damage underneath.

But why should you be concerned? Apart from being unsightly, long-term exposure to certain types of mold may pose health risks such as nasal congestion, throat irritation, headaches, coughing or wheezing, asthma, and impaired immune function. 

4. Unpleasant Odor

An unpleasant odor is one of the clear signs that your floors may have water damage underneath. This odor is often a result of mold or mildew growth caused by high moisture levels and poor air circulation.

Even without visible signs of water damage, a musty smell can indicate hidden water infiltration in your home. Mold and mildew thrive in damp environments, so if you notice a lingering musty or moldy smell, it’s essential to investigate further.

It’s crucial not to ignore these odors as they can be an early warning sign that something isn’t right with your flooring. If left unattended, water damage can cause severe harm not only to the affected area but also to other parts of your home.

It’s best to contact a professional immediately who specializes in dealing with water-related problems like burst pipes or faulty appliances.

Causes of Water Damage Underneath Floors

moisture causing damage on wooded floor

Water damage underneath wood floors can be caused by a variety of factors, some more common than others. One of the most frequent causes is leaks in plumbing pipes or appliances such as water heaters and washing machines.

If these leaks go unnoticed or are left unattended, they can gradually seep into the subfloor and compromise its structural integrity.

Another potential cause of water damage is flooding due to natural disasters like hurricanes or heavy rainstorms.

Condensation problems caused by poor sub-floor ventilation can also contribute to water damage underneath floors. This occurs when moisture accumulates beneath the floor surface over time due to insufficient airflow.

It’s crucial to address any signs of water damage promptly as leaving them unattended may result in more extensive repairs down the line.

Steps to Address Water Damage Underneath Floors

To address water damage underneath floors, it’s crucial you take immediate action.

4 Key Steps

  1. Remove any coverings and paper products: Before addressing the water damage, remove any floor coverings or paper products that may be hiding the wet area.
  2. Get rid of visible water: Start by using towels or a dry mop to soak up any visible water on the flooring.
  3. Dry out the affected area: To prevent further damage, use fans or air movers in strategic locations to circulate air across the wet surface.
  4. Monitor for signs of mold growth: Even if you’ve successfully addressed the visible water, there may still be residual moisture that can lead to mold growth over time.

Remember that while these steps can help mitigate minor cases of water damage, it’s essential to seek professional assistance for severe cases or if you suspect structural integrity issues with your floors.

Mold remediation expert inspects signs of water damage under floor


Even after addressing visible water, residual moisture can still linger and provide a breeding ground for significant damage. It is always ideal to have an expert team come in and assess the extent of water damage. 

While your hardwood floor may appear to buckle, or have slight discoloration as an obvious sign of prior leaking — water damaged floors are often more indicative of larger, severe damage.

Contact us today at Allphase Restoration to rule out any potential structural damage, leak source, or mold growth.

While slight damage to floors can arise from minor water damage, flooding or a broken pipe can result in extensive issues that need to be assessed by a professional and licensed remediation team. 

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