A small hole in your roof can cause some serious damage to your home. Here’s how to stop the rot before it starts…

You might not have noticed any major leaks or dark patches on your walls or roof yet, but if you know what to look for, you can fix water damage before it gets really expensive – and the same goes for signs to spot when you’re buying a property.

Water damage in a home often goes unnoticed as home owners deal with more obvious maintenance issues, but it can have far-reaching consequences and chew up huge amounts of time and money to rectify if you don’t pick it up quickly. So says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group, who notes that even a small hole in a roof can over time result in a rotting rafter or a waterlogged wall that could collapse or need to be replaced.

The rainy season is often the time when leaks are first noticed

Consequently, it is worth looking out for any sign of water damage on a regular basis, and especially during the rainy season, so that you can fix the problem while it is still minor.

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The most common water issues for home owners are:

Upward water seepage into walls, which could indicate cracked foundations or a lack of damp-proofing;

Poor drainage. Surface water runoff when it rains, for example, should not pool anywhere but always drain away from the house, while gutter downspouts should always be directed away from the foundation;

Sudden dips in paving or your driveway which could indicate that the soil below the surface is being washed away by groundwater or due to a pipe leak;

Roof leaks, especially around flashings, skylights or chimneys, and any downward water seepage into walls;

Blocked or damaged gutters, which could result in rainwater not being properly channelled away from the roof and outer walls;

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Low tap water pressure, which can be a sign of water service supply deficiencies – or the need to upgrade some piping, especially if you own an older home with the original galvanised water pipes;

Signs of mould, which is becoming more prevalent in modern homes due to the increasing use of air conditioners, dehumidifiers and clothes dryers, and may require the installation of exhaust fans, the replacement of infested carpets and the repainting or retiling of certain areas; and

Higher-than-normal water loss from a swimming pool, which could indicate a crack and a leak that could eventually cause the structure to collapse if you don’t get it fixed.

Everitt notes that potential buyers who are viewing homes for sale should also keep an eye open for any of these problems, or they could find themselves in for some expensive post-purchase repairs.