When water damage results from a burst pipe, you don’t need to do any detective work to know you’ve got a serious problem. Water flows down from the ceiling or out of the walls. The damage can be severe, costing thousands of dollars in property damage per minute. If you’re lucky enough to be home, you can get the water shut off before the damage gets so severe that you’ll have to remodel the entire house. When the water flows unabated, the house can become uninhabitable.

Luckily, burst pipes are less common in the Valley of the Sun than other parts of the country. In areas where severe cold strikes, with every cold snap, many homeowners are afflicted with these disasters. However, homeowners in the Valley still suffer from water damage. It’s often hidden, escaping the homeowner’s notice for months. When the hidden leak is finally discovered, mold has often grown, requiring expensive removal. Here are several ways to detect hidden leaks, so you can put a stop to them before mold takes hold.

Unexpected increases in your water bill 

Is your bill going through the roof when you’re using the same amount of water? Increases in water bills without explanation are telltale signs of hidden water leaks. All homeowners should know their average water bill. Unless you’ve been refilling your new swimming pool, increases in water bills indicate problems.

Stains on the walls, floors, and ceilings 

When pipes develop a slow leak, they often leave behind physical evidence in the form of stains. These wet spots seem to appear out of nowhere, but they actually come from water leaking on the inside of your house. Have your plumbing checked immediately if you notice these.

Warped floors 

If the floor starts feeling lumpy, water damage may be occurring underneath. Don’t ignore these, as mold has already begun to grow beneath the floorboards.

Peeling paint or wallpaper 

It’s tempting to dismiss these signs and even misread them as an indicator that a new house paint job is needed. However, when the paint starts to peel, there’s usually a reason, and that reason is often a water leak behind the wall. Peeling paint often means you need a Phoenix plumber much more urgently than a painter.

Water damage quickly leads to mold. Mold remediation is much more costly than a simple plumbing repair, so don’t make the mistake of ignoring the first signs of a hidden leak. When stains and warps appear on the walls or floor or the water bill surges for no apparent reason, you probably have a hidden leak