Telltale signs of water leaking behind walls include wet spots, mold, rust stains and shredded drywall. These problems indicate moisture behind the wall somewhere, but they may not indicate exactly where the problem originates. Sometimes, water can travel long distances from the point of damage before dripping onto walls. Pinpointing the leak’s source can save time and money in repairing the problem.
Pipe breaks inside a house can certainly cause moisture behind walls, but sometimes the source is found outside the home. Clogged gutters or breaks in gutter seams can cause water to back up inside the ceiling before running down walls. Old caulking around exterior windows can deteriorate and allow moisture into walls. Hail or wind can damage flashing around chimneys and seals around roof vents, compromising their tight seals onto roofs and letting in moisture.
Infrared thermal imaging detection uses a camera to detect leaks by using radiation waves, according to Restoration General Water and Mold Damage Experts. Images projected on the camera’s screen show different concentrations of infrared radiation that are present behind walls. Areas of high infrared activity, which appear as concentrated colors on the screen, indicate areas of moisture. Thermal imaging is a non-invasive method to find moisture, as it doesn't require tearing down walls or drilling holes to look behind walls.
Another non-invasive method of detecting moisture buildup behind walls is by using ultrasonic leak detectors. As water moves behind walls, it creates areas of sound-wave turbulence. Mitchell Instrument Company describes the sound as a small-scale version of the hissing noise that large leaks make. If the leak is small enough, this hissing cannot be heard with the unaided ear. Technicians use sensitive microphones that amplify water noise to find the source of moisture.
Various water alarm systems engage in response to leaks. These alarms can be active or passive, according to State Farm Insurance. Moisture sensors detect leaks and can shut off water valves to an entire house. For business travelers and vacationers, whole-house systems can prevent flooding damage while you’re away. Other systems automatically shut off water and sound an alarm from individual appliances when they detect leaks. Some leak-alert systems sound an alarm to alert you of a leak somewhere in your system, but cannot pinpoint the leak.
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