If you suspect that you may have a hidden water leak in your basement, you may want to confirm your suspicions before calling in a professional. If so, use the following three-step guide to find out if you have water seeping in through the walls or under your foundation into your basement.

Step 1:  Inspect The Walls And Adjacent Floors For Discolorations

The first step in your leak detection efforts is inspecting the walls and adjacent floor for any discolorations in the concrete. Even if there is not an overt leak, water could be seeping through the material, leaving mud or mineral deposits that could change the color of the concrete.

Start in one corner of the basement and slowly walk along the walls. Whenever you see any discoloration, make note of it either mentally or on a piece of paper. Draw a rough sketch of your basement to make marking the areas easier. Start a key using "D" to note these changes in color.

For example, if you come across an area in the middle of the wall that appears to be a rusty color, this could have been caused by mineral deposits left behind by water seepage. Mark the sketch with a "D" and move on.

The next area you come to may look like dried mud. Use a screwdriver and scrape the area to see if it is. Mark this area with a "D" as well, but make a small note about what you found.

Continue on with the rest of the wall. Then, go on to the next step.

Step 2:  Examine The Corners For Signs Of Moisture

Once you have examined the walls for discolorations, turn your attention towards the corners. Because they form seams between the walls, they could start to deteriorate faster on the outside.

With your sketch in hand, visually inspect the first for any discolorations. Also, look for small drops or lines of water. Because of the seams, they could be easily hidden from your first glance.

For example, if you see an area darker than the others, run your finger through it to see if it is wet. If you find water, mark the corner with a "W" and move on to the next corner. After you have completed your examination of them, go on to the thirst step.

Step 3:  Look For Mold And Mildew Growth Along The Walls

The next step is looking for any mold or mildew growth along your basement's walls. Whenever these fungi are present, there is a good chance that water could be seeping through the concrete and feeding them moisture. Because of the potential health problems associated with mold, any growth needs to be dealt with by a professional as soon as possible.

Starting in the same corner as the previous steps, look for any greenish, fuzzy areas that could indicate mold. Also, look for pale, dusty areas that may be mildew. If you find any, use your flathead screwdriver to rake across the area. The tip will turn greenish or whitish from the residue.

When you find any areas of mold, mark them with an "MD" to signify suspected growth. If you think you have found a patch of mildew, mark with an "MW."

If you find any of the above signs in your basement, you may have water leaking in around it or under your foundation. If so, you may want to contact a contractor who specializes in basement waterproofing so they can perform a professional inspection. Give them your sketch to direct them to the suspected trouble areas. They can then discuss the options for fixing the problem that may be available to you.