How to Identify Water Damage (New or Old)

by | May 27, 2022 | Water/Mold Damage

Wondering how to identify water damage? Here is everything you need to know.

If you’ve recently discovered old water damage on your property, whether the result of a burst pipe, flash flood, or leaky roof, then the consequences can be dire.

Old water damage often results in a build-up of mold, toxins, and other harmful chemicals. There are a bunch of other side-effects, too – but how do you know if the damage is old or more recent?

Well, this article will answer exactly that – teaching you the basics on how to identify water damage, the difference between old and new water damage, and more.

If you’re looking for a roofing company in Nicholasville, Kentucky, then contact the team at Jacob’s Ladder today for a quote.

Request Quote Call (859) 379-9137

How to identify water damage

Water damage, new or old, leaves a few traces – it’s pretty easy to spot when you know what you’re looking for.

There are a few telltale signs, including:

  • A sudden increase in water bills 
  • Dark and/or wet spots on the walls or ceiling 
  • A damp or musky smell 
  • The sound of running water 

A sudden increase in water bills

A rather obvious sign of water damage is an increase in utility bills, especially if it’s an internal leak (i.e. not a leaky roof).

While sudden fluctuations are normal, especially during the summer months, keep a keen eye on your water readings to spot signs of water damage sooner rather than later.

Oh, and you’ll also save money in the process…

Dark and/or wet spots on the walls or ceiling

Dark and/or wet spots on walls and especially ceilings are a sign of water damage.

If the spots are dark, this is usually a sign of lasting water damage. Similarly, wet spots indicate that there’s still a leak – so it’s best to tend to it quickly. If it’s still wet and not soggy, then this also indicates more recent damage.

A damp or musky smell

The build-up and leaking of water will result in a damp or musky smell, usually pretty quickly if left unattended.

The smell is distinct, and you’ve definitely smelled it before. Pair this with damp patches or spots, and you’re hot on the trail to find the source of the leak.

The sound of running water

Another rather obvious sign is the sound of running water when there’s no water running…

If you can hear water running, or dripping, then chances are you have a leak.

Common places for water to leak from include the ceiling, toilet, sink, washing machine or dishwasher, and not to mention burst pipes. But there are other areas, too!

How to identify new vs. old water damage

Once you know you’ve got water damage, the next step is quite obviously fix it.

But your plan of action is dependent on whether it’s new or old water damage. For example, new damage can usually be fixed much sooner, whereas older damage may need a proper inspection to spot underlying signs of water damage.

So, how do you spot the difference?

New water damage

New water damage is a little more difficult to spot due to the signs being a little less severe.

New water damage usually appears with light rings on the ceiling, either a dark or faint color. But usually one or two rings, as opposed to several darker colored rings.

Also, these rings (and the source of the damage) should still be firm.

Old water damage

Older water damage typically has several spots and rings and is a darker color than newer damage. Furthermore, if there is mold, and it’s black, dark, and plentiful, then we’re sorry to break it to you, but that’s probably older water damage.

This is further confirmed if the damaged already feels squidgy – soft to touch.

How to treat water damage

No matter whether you have old water damage or a new leak, dealing with it as soon as possible is essential to save money and improve safety.

Despite this, tackling it sooner is definitely more cost-effective, usually resulting in fewer damages, and nothing a quick lick of paint and a bit of tinkering here and there can’t fix.

If you’re not sure whether you have water damage, then we recommend reaching out to a professional, such as the team at Jacob’s ladder. Likewise, if you have water damage and you’re in need of restoration and repairs, then reach out today – contact us to find out more information.

Local Reviews
for Nicholasville, KY

Jacob's Ladder Roofing and Restoration Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars based on 7 customer reviews

Map of Nicholasville, KY 40356

I would highly recommend Jacob’s Ladder




Review of Jacob's Ladder Roofing and Restoration
NicholasvilleKY40356 37.8475-84.5675

Andrea was Great and everyone else I talked with there. I got a new roof and the whole process was done professionally. They did a great job on the roof and cleaned up very well around the house. I would highly recommend Jacob’s Ladder.


Map of Nicholasville, KY 40356

Very happy




Review of Jacob's Ladder Roofing and Restoration
NicholasvilleKY40356 37.8775-84.5675

Very happy with the services, they did a great job with the roof, clean-up, and communications.


Map of Nicholasville, KY 40356

Quick Turn Around




Review of Jacob's Ladder Roofing and Restoration
NicholasvilleKY40356 37.855-84.58

We have some shingles blow off in the recent storm. Jacob's Ladder helped us out, worked with our insurance, and turned the job around quickly. Thanks!


Map of Nicholasville, KY 40356

Professional and helpful




Review of Jacob's Ladder Roofing and Restoration
NicholasvilleKY40356 37.9-84.57

Contacted Jacobs Ladder to have my roof replaced. Very professional and very helpful with all the questions I had regarding my roof. New roof looks great! Thanks again


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Roof Replacement for a townhouse




Review of Jacob's Ladder Roofing and Restoration
NicholasvilleKY40356 37.9-84.57

From start to finish, every contact with this company was extremely professional and pleasant. They were replacing a roof next door to us and I inquired about doing some repairs. After inspecting our roof, they recommended filing an insurance claim for a full replacement. The owner of the company worked closely with us and went above and beyond when our claim was initially denied. The work crew was prompt, courteous and efficient. The end result was a beautiful new roof. They even filed our warranty paperwork with Owens Corning. It was a pleasure doing business with Jacob's Ladder. Highly recommended for their professionalism and personal touch every step of the way!


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Above and Beyond




Review of Jacob's Ladder Roofing and Restoration
NicholasvilleKY40356 37.895-84.595

Went above and beyond to fix my roof leak. Patched trouble spots beyond where the leak even was


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Professionalism, Punctuality, Quality, Responsiveness, Value




Review of Jacob's Ladder Roofing and Restoration
NicholasvilleKY40356 37.8525-84.575

The team was on time and very on task to complete the installation as communicated. The team was a happy group of workers and very professional. Once they were done, you would never know they were here - except for a brand new roof!

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