It is the time of year when we pray for rain. Without rain, we would not have the water we need to survive. However, it is this water that can cause many problems in our homes. It is best to familiarize ourselves with the signs of water damage and ways to prevent it. Sometimes you will have problem that will be easy to identify and fix. For example, you may notice a puddle on your floor. This could simply be the result of a leak from the sink drain pipe, a burst hose from the washing machine or a broken ice-maker in your freezer. These types of problems you usually notice quickly, and rarely do they cause any damage. Unfortunately, most of the time you do not realize you have any problem. There is no puddle on the floor and no sign of any plumbing leaks. Your only sign of a problem is some damage that may have occurred. You may see a water stain on the ceiling, peeling paint just above the floor or mold growing along your staircase. The root of these problems is often more difficult to diagnose, but critical in order to resolve the problem. The source of these problems is usually water. It could be a plumbing issue or a rain drainage problem that could be originating on the roof or around windows or doors. The difficulty in diagnosing the problem is it is hard to track down where the water originated from. Water will ultimately find the lowest point to settle. There are times that a roof problem could be the cause of a problem on a lower floor, and totally bypass any problems on the upper floors. Occasionally, the problem is not actually water, it is moisture. Mold is often seen when there is a moisture problem, and this can sometimes be resolved by installing proper insulation. One of the biggest obstacles in finding the water problems is the type of construction used here. Homes are built with sand and cement. Below the floor tiles are about 15 cm. of sand. There could be a very small leak that is making the sand damp. There could also be a bathtub or shower missing some caulking that is allowing water to get into the sand. The sand may never dry as it is getting wet each time the shower is used. This will cause the water in the sand to get absorbed into the wall, causing paint to peel. Although it will usually show up just outside the shower area, sometimes it will be in another area of the house, as that is the lowest point where the water settled. What are you to do if you see water stains or peeling paint? Before calling a plumber or a roofer, you may try to locate the cause of the problem yourself. Very often it is simple. There could be a balcony above you that needs to be grouted. There could be a leak from the drain of a sink. There could be a window that needs to be caulked. There could be a bathtub or shower that needs silicone and perhaps also grout between the tiles. Try to determine if you have any of these problems and rectify them immediately. You should then wait a while for the area to dry up and then you can proceed to scrape, spackle, sand, prime and paint the area. It is very likely that a mold problem developed where you had water damage. Once the problem is resolved, you can treat the problem by scraping away flaking paint, cleaning the mold with bleach and water, spackling, sanding and painting. It is also necessary to use an anti-mold paint. This will prevent mold from growing on the area again, as it is more susceptible to having mold problems in the future. It is always best to keep up to date with the maintenance your home needs. The little things like caulking and grouting will help prevent water damage. Needless to say, if you neglect to maintain your home, and do not take signs of water damage seriously, you could end up with walls and ceilings that totally disintegrate and much bigger and more expensive problems to deal with. I recently painted my bathroom and spattered a little oil paint on some towels. What is the best method to remove the paint from the towels? - Mrs. Martenson via e-mail Best would be to have used mineral spirit to dilute the paint when it was still wet and then wash with lots of hot and soapy water. But now that it is most certainly dry, dilute the spot with Thinner #21 (available at all paint stores) and then clean with a lot of hot and soapy water. Be careful, this thinner is very strong and one must wear gloves and only use it in a very well ventilated area. Note that it is possible that it may discolor the fabric of the towel. [email protected].