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In order to prevent mold from growing, or structures from being compromised and unstable, it is important to detect water damage as soon as it happens. There are some telltale signs to know that water damage is present, and knowing what they are can save you headaches and avoid expensive issues down the line. Even if you do not know anything about water damage, here are some of the signs anyone can look out for. 


Water-damaged drywall often appears discolored compared to its normal color. This can range from light yellowish stains to dark brown patches. Look for areas that are visibly darker or have irregular coloration. These sometimes appear to look like coffe stains or juice stains. 

Swelling or Bubbling 

When drywall gets wet, it tends to swell or bubble. Check for areas where the surface seems uneven or protrudes slightly. When this happens, it means that moisture has seeped into the drywall, causing it to expand.

Soft Spots

If you are sensing there may be reason to believe you have water damage, gently press on various parts of the drywall with your fingertips. If you notice any areas that feel soft or mushy instead of firm, it’s likely water-damaged. Soft spots indicate that the drywall has absorbed moisture and lost its structural integrity. Even if it is not wet anymore, the drywall may still seem soft from damage. 

Peeling or Cracking Paint or Wallpaper

Water damage can cause paint or wallpaper to peel, bubble, or crack. Carefully look at the walls for any signs of peeling paint or wallpaper, especially near areas prone to water exposure such as sinks, showers, or windows. Sometimes it helps to look at the wall from an angle with lots of light to be able to see clearly.

Musty Odor

Mold and mildew often accompany water damage. If you detect a musty or earthy smell in a room, it could be a sign of hidden moisture behind the walls and possibly mold that is not quite visible yet. Even if you can’t see any visible signs of water damage, a persistent odor warrants further investigation.

Visible Mold Growth 

Mold thrives in damp environments, so water-damaged drywall is a prime breeding ground. Look for black, green, or brown spots on the surface of the drywall, particularly in areas with high humidity or moisture.

Warped or Sagging Drywall 

Severe water damage can cause drywall to warp or sag which distorts its shape. Inspect the walls for any noticeable changes in alignment or curvature, as this could indicate significant moisture absorption.


Efflorescence is the white, powdery substance that forms on surfaces when water evaporates, leaving behind mineral deposits. If you notice any white streaks or patches on the drywall surface, it could be a sign that water was there and then dried. 

If you suspect water damage to your drywall, it’s essential to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage and mold growth. Depending on the severity of the damage, you will want to reach out to Tobin Restoration’s Water damage team to help you figure out where your water is coming from, and properly restore any damage to your drywall.