I am always taken with the number of times I have seen water stains on walls, ceilings and under sinks. You can latex paint the stains but eventually they will come right back. They have to be primed painted with Kills primer and them painted final. More importantly, it is evident that water in pipes had escaped the pipe and followed it's own path to create damage.
I was recently doing a pre-listing review for what needs to be addressed before the home comes to market and I saw several large old water stains on the garage ceiling. I noticed that the slab finish below the screed line that the stucco was deteriorated and had all come off and there was water stains from the sprinklers constantly hitting the house. I was in the powder room that had oak wood flooring and around the toilet base, I saw some very dark stains in the oak. ( the matrix of Oak wood turns near black when it gets wet). Under the Kitchen sink, an old drip warped the base of the sink cabinet. The grout in the tiled shower has rust stains below the valves indicating that at one time or another, the vales leaked for a while and stained the grout.
These are just some of the examples that are not so unusual in find in homes where water has caused damage. Roof leaks, water intruding around windows if not sealed properly, excess water from sprinklers can actually cause serious problems under a slab. Breaks or leaks in water pipes under the slab are so powerful that they can crack through the slab and flood the house. A couple years ago, I had to re-route the copper plumbing in own home at a cost of ten grand. I noticed a warm spot under the tile and sure enough, the hot water line running under the slab sprung a leak and if it had broken through the slab, the house would have flooded as did actually happen with several homes in my area. Water is under pressure and can be a very powerful force over time to destroy what is in it's path.
Most of the damage I see in homes today comes from water where it should have been protected against or shouldn't have been in the first place. Slow leaking valves behind toilets can ruin the wall board,flooring,baseboard and even the sub-flooring. Shower pans that become old or not installed correctly can leak and do a whole lot a damage as well as encourage Mold to flourish. Washers machines leaking or with inexpensive rubber hoses that can easily burst can do some amazing flood damage.
This precious resource called water that we all need to exist, when not controlled properly and protected against in our homes can seriously damage or even destroy them. In my real estate career, most of the serious damage I have seen in homes was caused by water.
The best way to prevent water damage is first to understand how powerful and destructive this life requiring resource can be and how to manage the numerous outlets where water comes into the interior and also where it can come in from rain, sprinklers or ground water.