Drying Water Damaged Drywall: 8 Steps to Repairing Water Damaged Drywall
The walls and ceilings of most homes are made of drywall. Once drywall gets wet, it can become stained or discolored. Within hours, paint and wallpaper can start bubbling. Depending on the source and extent of the water damage, it could crack or crumble completely. If drywall remains wet for an extended period, mold is likely to grow. In order to salvage and dry water damaged drywall, you need to act quickly or the only option is to replace it.
What is Drywall and Why Does Water Cause Damage
Drywall is one of the most common building materials in use today. If your home was built after the late 1950s or early 1960s, your walls and ceiling are likely made of some type of drywall material.
Commonly referred to as plasterboard, wallboard, sheetrock, or gypsum board, drywall is made of a gypsum-based plaster material sandwiched between two sheets of paper. Depending on the exact use, the gypsum may be blended with various agents to reduce water absorption, mold growth, or flammability.
While a small amount of water will usually dry with only cosmetic damage, larger amounts of water will weaken both the paper layers and the gypsum material. The paper is prone to peeling and may even deteriorate completely. The gypsum will then soak up the water and can eventually begin to sag, crumble, or flake.
Wicking: One of the Biggest Causes of Drywall Water Damage
While any water event can damage drywall, water wicking into drywall is one of the biggest causes of water damage. This happens when water enters your property and remains up against your walls for an extended period of time. You walls then begin to soak up water. Depending on the length of exposure, water can wick inches or even feet up your walls. The longer it sits, the greater the damage it can cause. While it may be possible to dry drywall, it may be necessary to cut out and replace it.
Signs of Water Damage to Drywall
Stains: Yellow-brown stains are a common sign of water damage to drywall. These stains typically form an irregular shape and radiate from a central point. Drywall stains are typically caused by slow water leaks, but they can be caused by floods or other water events.
Discoloration: Another common sign of water damaged walls is discoloration. Typically areas that have been wet will appear darker than other areas, but colors may vary based upon the color of the walls and other factors.
Peeling Paint or Wallpaper: Water damage to walls can also cause paint or wallpaper to peel. With paint, it can chip or flake as separates from the drywall. With wallpaper, the water actually weakens the glue, allowing it to peel up.
Bubbles: Bubbled paint or wallpaper can also indicate water damage to your walls. This is common when water comes in contact with walls from behind, causing the paint to bubble up from the drywall.
Sagging or Crumbling Walls: Depending on the amount of water involved, it can actually cause the drywall to weaken leading to your walls sagging, buckling, or crumbling. This usually happens when a large amount of water is involved, which can actually break down the drywall. In most cases, replacing the drywall is the only option.
8 Steps to Fixing Water Damaged Drywall
If you’ve had some type of water event, take these steps to dry and repair drywall after water damage.
1. Find the Source of the Water Damage
Before you can make repairs to water damaged drywall, you need to locate and resolve the source of the water. If you’ve had a burst pipe or other plumbing issue, it may be necessary to turn off your main water supply line to stop the flow of water. Small leaks or overflowing toilets might be able to be repaired without turning off the water. For a flood or other natural event, wait until the flood waters or storm has passed to begin repairs.
2. Extract Standing Water
Once the flow of water has stopped, start extracting the water as quickly as possible to limit water damage to your drywall. You can use buckets to bail out water or towels to soak it up, but a pump will be more efficient. If you don’t have one, you can rent a water pump from an equipment rental company. Regardless of the method you choose, your goal is to quickly remove as much standing water as possible. The longer the water sits, the greater the chance it will damage your drywall.
3. Vacuum Up Remaining Water
Once the bulk of the water is gone, use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up as much of the remaining water as possible. Not only should use this method for carpeting and floors, but also for drywall or plaster walls and ceilings. The goal is to leave surfaces just damp to the touch. Work in sections, going over the same area repeatedly until no more water comes out. Remember to empty your wet/dry vacuum regularly for the best efficiency.
4. Remove Damage Materials
Once you’ve removed as much water as possible, it’s time to remove water damaged drywall and other damaged materials. If the drywall is already cracked, crumbling, or sagging, it’s best to remove it. If it’s just damp, you can likely dry it. When removing water damaged drywall, make clean cuts at least 2 inches away from the damage. Depending on the extent of the water damage, it may be necessary to remove damaged wall studs, flooring, cabinets, and ceilings as well.
5. Dry Water Damaged Walls
The next step is to dry the area thoroughly to prevent additional damage and mold growth. It’s best to use high-efficiency blowers and dehumidifiers, but regular house fans will work too. If you need equipment, you can rent it at your local rental company. Allow blowers to work until drywall and studs are completely dry. Keep the humidity low and the area well ventilated. While some heat can help, there is no need to crank the heat up. In some cases, it can actually make the situation worse or even cause mold to grow.
6. Sanitize and Deodorize
Next, you will need to sanitize and deodorize the area. A chemical sanitizer will prevent odors and mold in the future. Unfortunately, bleach is not effective at killing mold so you should use a medical grade sanitizer instead. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may want to use an ozone machine to remove severe odors. Always use an ozone machine carefully and follow the operating instructions. In most cases, you will need to vacate the area for at least 8 hours while the ozone machine is operating.
7. Hang New Drywall or Repair Cracked Walls
For smaller sections of water damaged drywall, you may be able to patch the damage with joint compound. Joint compound is available at your local hardware store. In some cases, you may also need to apply some drywall tape as well. For large sections, you will need to hang new drywall. Cut the drywall just slightly smaller than the damaged area and use drywall screws to secure it to the wall studs. Use drywall tape and joint compound to blend it in with the existing drywall. Depending on your skill level, you may need to apply joint compound and sand the area several times for a smooth wall surface. Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions for joint compound and drywall tape.
8. Paint or Wallpaper the Restored Area
The final step to restoring water damaged drywall is to paint the area or hang new wallpaper. When painting, we recommend painting the entire wall to ensure the color is uniform throughout. For wallpaper, it may be necessary to remove existing wallpaper for undamaged portions of the wall first. Follow the Always manufacturers’ instructions for applying paint and wallpaper glue.
Repairing Water Damage to Plaster Walls
Lathe and plaster walls can be more difficult to repair after water damage than drywall. As the plaster gets wet, it is more likely to crumble. Even if you dry wet plaster, it can become brittle and it may still be necessary to replace it. Due to the nature of plaster, it can be quite messy to clean up as well. Only use interior plaster and follow the manufacturers’ instructions for application and drying time.
If You Need Professional Help Drying Water Damaged Drywall, Call Restoration Local Now
Drying drywall after water damage can stressful and time-consuming. The longer the water sits, the greater the change you will need to completely replace the drywall. Restoration Local will dry out your water damaged drywall quickly, limiting the damage and improving the chances it can be salvaged.
Our water damage restoration contractors are experienced in water extraction and drying drywall after water leaks, floods, and other types of water events. They use professional grade equipment to quickly and efficiently dry drywall.
If necessary, they also offer complete water damage restoration services. From hanging new drywall to installing new flooring and cabinets, they will restore your property to its original condition. They even sanitize and deodorize to prevent mold and odors from developing over time.
Let our compassionate and dependable restoration specialist give you peace of mind in an emergency. Call 1-888-443-3110 to speak with the local Restoration Local water damage restoration crew in your area. They offer 24-hour emergency services, 30-minute response time, and always free, no obligation estimates.