Water Damaged Walls

It doesn’t take a lot of water to do a lot of damage to your home or business.  Even as little as a half inch of water can cause hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damage, especially if the spill occurs upstairs, because we all know how much water likes to run downhill.  Any water spill can adversely affect flooring and carpeting, but once you start adding any sort of depth into the mix, then you find yourself with water damage to the drywall and sheetrock in your home or business.

Drywall being cut image

Removing wet drywall

Drywall (also known as sheetrock, plasterboard or wallboard) is basically a piece of gypsum plastered tightly between two thick sheets of paper. It’s usually pretty easy to identify water damage in your walls.  The drywall will have a noticeable water line or other indicative discoloration, and there may also be swelling of the drywall.  In rare cases, drywall may be dried out with no long term problems, but in many cases, it is more advisable to simply remove and replace the damaged portion, especially if you don’t own professional moisture meters that will tell you if the wall is dry or not. Keep in mind that dry to the touch does not mean its dry enough not to support mold growth. The drywall doesn’t need to be saturated in order to allow mold spores to take a foothold.

As with any case of water damage, it is important to dry everything out thoroughly.  The area within your walls is a prime location for subsequent problems such as mold, which can appear in as little as 48 hours and prove extraordinarily difficult to get rid of. There are a lot of other factors that can determine the best course of action for example is it an external wall with insulation or an interior wall? Is it a shared wall with another home on the other side which would indicate either a layer of OSB or MDF in the wall, or a double layer of sheetrock sandwiched between two layers of wood studs? Is there wallpaper on the wall and is that wallpaper water proof vinyl or just paper wall paper which would dry? Does the paint on the walls or baseboards contain lead, or is there asbestos in the joint compound or texture both of which could pose huge health risks for all involved? All of the above can be tremendous influencing factors on the next steps to follow which is why it’s always important to call a professional water mitigation company to do the job for you.

Drywall that's wet has been removed

Water damaged drywall has been removed

DIY Water damaged drywall removal

If you are certain that there are no other influencing factors and you still want to proceed then you will need to start by cutting out the damaged drywall. Drywall is easily cut, so once the level of damage has been ascertained, the damaged area can be cut away.  This should be done in a neat square shape to allow for a replacement piece to be cut to size and reinstalled.  Take the time to inspect the area behind the wall to make sure there isn’t more extensive damage that needs to be addressed.  You may want to replace any damaged insulation and allow the wall cavity to dry thoroughly before any subsequent repairs are attempted. If the wall was wet before or it stayed wet for a few days (or longer) it might be a good idea to call a professional water damage company to take a look or take over completely, because of potential mold issues. If there is mold in the wall cavity and you just cut the wall open without the required containment you will cross-contaminate your entire home and that’s the last thing you need, especially if you have young kids, or elderly people living with you.

When it comes to cutting the replacement piece, take precise measurements of the hole you are looking to fill.  Then cut the new piece of drywall accordingly.  There needs to be as tight of a fit as possible.  If the old wall wasn’t cut perfectly – halfway into a wood stud to provide a section of stud into which you can fasten the new drywall, it may be that a backing piece is required to hold the new drywall in place.  A piece of wood screwed into the adjacent stud should do the trick nicely.

Once the new piece is installed, the seams will need to be taped, and multiple coats of plaster applied.  This can later be sanded down to make the seams smooth.  If the rest of the wall is textured then you will need to do your best to match that level of texture. There are plenty of videos on the internet that will show you how to correctly texture a piece of drywall. The finished installation may then be painted to match the rest of the wall.

If all of this seems a bit more complicated or involved than you want to get in your home repair efforts, it’s okay.  Many homeowners would no doubt concur.  That’s where your local IICRC certified water damage restoration professionals come in.  These guys have the training, experience, and tools to take care of jobs exactly like this.  They specialize in taking water damaged properties and returning them to their pre-loss condition.

So unless you’ve just got your heart set on doing this yourself, spare yourself the headache and the expense (because you’ll no doubt make mistakes and mistakes cost money), and call your local professionals today.  Most offer same day service and all work is guaranteed.

About Dan Camara

Dan Camara is the CEO of PuroClean Home Rescue in Sacramento. We have been helping the good folks of Northern California with water damage dryouts, mold removal and fire cleanups for nearly 5 years now. Connect with me on Google+
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2 Responses to Water Damaged Walls

  1. Pingback: IICRC Renamed The Clean Trust | Water Damage & Mold Removal Blog

  2. Dallas home improvement says:

    Damp walls due to water seepage from roof leaks or floods can promote the growth of mold or other microorganisms that can cause some serious damage to your house. Choosing a water damage restoration professional can provide precise and efficient service in order to stop the damage and decrease further losses.

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