5 Signs of Water Damage in a Lake Home

by Holly Welles

Lake homes and cabins are wonderful investments. Like any property, however, they need some care and maintenance to stay in pristine condition. Plus, for these lakeside getaways, the risk of water damage is more present than it may be for your primary home.

Fortunately, a keen eye and regular inspection can help a homeowner identify issues as soon as they arise. If you detect any of these signs of water damage in your lake house, act quickly or consult a professional to mitigate the source of unwanted water in your home.

1. Damaged Roofing

A damaged roof can impact your lake home’s insulation, let in moisture and make your home susceptible to major water damage. While a property needs a roof replacement every decade or so, your roof also requires upkeep — especially in a lakeside setting. How can you check that your exterior is in order?

Flashing is waterproofing that roofers install at the intersections or ends of your roof. If these appears damaged, it means the sealing is broken and water is likely to seep through. You can also check your shingles. Missing, damaged or moldy shingles indicate a water problem that you need to take action on before moisture makes it further into your home.

2. Unusual Stains on Walls

Your walls and ceilings can provide useful visual clues that something is amiss. Water damage may create stains or even streaks of discoloration. You should especially check around door frames and windows for telltale stains around your home’s openings.

There are several possible culprits behind these signs of water damage. Your lake home may have a leaky pipe, condensation in the walls or a poorly waterproofed building envelope. It’s important to call in an expert to identify the water source before your walls get worse.

3. Floorboard Problems

Hardwood flooring is a luxury pick for a vacation home, and you’ll want to do your best to protect this investment. Unfortunately, this material is also susceptible to moisture, so it’s crucial to keep a careful eye out for signs of water damage in a lakeside property.

Your hardwood flooring will show a few easily identified signs of water damage. Floorboards may be buckled if water has seeped into the subflooring, which means they will separate or peel upward. Or, excess moisture may cause floorboards to crown upward in the middle. Lastly, keep an eye out for mold and discoloration.

4. Caulking Issues

Pipes are frequently the cause of water damage in homes, and your lake house is no exception. Take the time to regularly check on the pipes in your kitchen, bathroom and other crucial locations, like a laundry room.

Besides obvious mold or wetness, a telltale sign of leaky piping is loose or missing caulking. This happens because water seepage wears away at caulk and grout, creating an important visual cue for homeowners.

5. Unpleasant Smell

This final step is the most visceral, but it’s a dead giveaway that something is amiss. Let your nose guide you while inspecting each of the above parts of your lake home. Standing water and mold will create an unpleasant musty smell.

First, identify and treat the underlying source of the water damage. Then, you’ll want to disinfect the space to prevent the odor of mold from tarnishing your lake home. Clean all damaged surfaces by mixing one gallon of water with one and a half cups of bleach. This will stop mold growth and let you bounce back more quickly.

How to Detect Water Damage in a Lake House

Moisture can access your home through various routes, so it’s often hard to prevent every issue before it creates damage. Lakeside property owners know that a life by the water also comes with certain maintenance responsibilities.

Fortunately, most issues can be mitigated without massive expense. A watchful eye and an alert nose will help you identify problems quickly and schedule maintenance before mold, stains and other telltale signs have a chance to fully take hold of your vacation home.


Holly Welles is a writer and decorating enthusiast. She shares tips on home improvements and design for homeowners on her own blog, The Estate Update. She’s also a regular contributor to industry publications including Build Magazine and Today’s Homeowner.

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