If your upstairs bathroom has a sink or tub that is leaking or a toilet that has overflowed, you may need to do more than just wipe up the water. In many cases, the water has seeped through the flooring or wall tiles and caused damage elsewhere. Once the other damage has happened, wood can rot, drywall can crumble, and ceiling tiles can fall apart. Unless you are right there when the water problem starts and can immediately stop it and sop up the water, here are a few things you should do to keep your home safe.
While you may think you got up all the water, some of it may have seeped underneath floor tiles and/or linoleum. This water will sit there and can cause any subflooring to mildew, allow for mold to grow, and cause the wood to rot. Mold and mildew can be a health hazard to anyone breathing it in, especially those with allergies. If the floor rots, you could end up with someone falling through or have the toilet, sink or tub sinking in. Not only could someone be hurt from this, it can also cause the pipes to burst, causing more damage to things. You need to pull up a bit of the flooring, even if it means removing a tile or two, to make sure there is no water underneath. If there is, be sure to pull it up until you see no more dampness or water stains. You can rent an air mover to dry the wood faster. Once dry, spray the area with an antimicrobial solution to prevent any growth of mold or mildew. You can then replace the flooring.
If the leak is behind the drywall, you will need to remove it and check the studs for moisture. Use an air mover to dry out the inside of the wall and then spray with an antimicrobial. You can then put new drywall in and replace any tiles. If you ignore this, the walls will crumble. If the area is where any plumbing comes through the walls, pipes could shift and move, even pulling apart and causing a flood. This means you will have to worry about the flooring now too.
Unfortunately, if the water gets under the tiles in the bathroom, it can also seep down into the ceiling of the floor below. Once you have the leak stopped, and have fixed the flooring above, check the ceiling below for damage. If you forget this step, you could end up with parts of the ceiling falling down on someone. Pull out any ceiling tiles and look for damage to the tiles and also to any drywall and studs.
A bit of a wet spot on the ceiling might not seem like a big deal, but you can never be sure of what is going on in between walls or floors. It is always safest to check everywhere even though it means more work. Keeping your home safe is worth a little extra time and energy.
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