It’s no surprise that water damage to drywall is common. Lightweight, durable, non-combustible and quickly installed, drywall, also known as gypsum board, is the most prevalent building material in American homes today. However, drywall and water don’t always get along. While the material readily withstands random splashes and drips, drywall is often one of the first casualties of serious water damage.
A whopping 20 billion square feet of drywall is installed in North America each year— most for construction of residential walls and ceilings. Here are eight facts from the Gypsum Association regarding drywall water damage:
- The first priority must be identifying the source of water and eliminating it. In addition to obvious scenarios such as flooding, damage may occur from hidden sources such as leaky plumbing pipes routed through wall cavities and above ceilings—both areas typically enclosed by drywall.
- To reduce the likelihood of mold growth occurring in wet drywall, effective drying techniques must be initiated within 24 to 48 hours following the water damage incident.
- Proper ventilation, continuous indoor dehumidification and adequate air circulation with fans are essential elements in drying out wet drywall.
- Drywall is very absorbent. If the source of water damage is toxic such as raw sewage, the affected drywall must be replaced to ensure toxins are fully removed from the indoor environment.
- Physical damage due to water exposure is also an indicator of replacement. Drywall that has lost structural integrity and is bulging or sagging cannot be restored and must be replaced.
- Other signs of deterioration due to drywall water damage include rust on fasteners used to secure drywall as well as delamination of the outer layers of paper from the internal gypsum material.
- Moisture meter readings must be taken to verify that the internal gypsum material is fully dried. If meter readings are not consistent, laboratory testing of samples is recommended to ensure that the drying process is complete.
- Deciding to replace drywall may depend on some or all of the above factors. However, if doubt still remains about whether or not to replace wet drywall, the Gypsum Association recommends opting for replacement.
So There is Moisture in Your Walls…
Tuesday, August 6th, 2019
Nothing good comes from the presence of moisture inside wall cavities — the number of damaging consequences that can happen to a home is extensive:
- Toxic mold growth
- Rotting wood structure
- Stained swollen drywall
- Peeling paint or wallpaper
- Ruined insulation
- Insect infestation
- Continuous odors
Moisture inside a wall is typically a result of some fault or failure in the construction or maintenance of the house. It also will never get better on its own. Instead, things will get progressively worse. Here are the reasons why and how wetness can seep into areas where it doesn’t belong.
- Condensation. Gaps and cracks in exterior walls may allow cold outdoor air to seep into the warmer interior wall space. This cold air will naturally form condensation on surfaces inside the wall cavity, creating a perpetually moist environment trapped inside the wall. A careful review is required to locate and seal external cracks and gaps that allow outdoor air to infiltrate exterior walls.
- Plumbing leaks. Water supply lines routed through wall cavities may have tiny pinholes due to deterioration and/or seepage at joints. These may leak continuously or intermittently, soaking insulation inside walls, saturating wood structure and drywall. Uninsulated copper cold water pipes may also “sweat” condensation in amounts sufficient to cause damage inside walls, particularly if structural cracks and gaps allow humid outdoor air to infiltrate the wall cavity.
- Penetrating rainwater. Exterior siding resists showers and splashes, not water flowing continuously down the wall. Clogged gutters overflowing during rain frequently cascade water down exterior walls. Water penetrating siding may also infiltrate the wall void, triggering internal moisture damage.
If external signs aren’t obvious, eliminating suspected moisture inside walls requires determining its exact location. Moisture meters that utilize needle probes can identify the presence of moisture inside wall cavities without drilling large holes. Once moisture is pinpointed, the wall can be opened for drying, treating mold contamination, repairing any plumbing leaks and removing saturated insulation, if present. Rotted wood can also be replaced.
Using qualified professional services to identify the cause and make the repairs will be safer and more cost-effective in the long run.