Everything You Need To Know About Drywall Water Damage

If you have only minor water damage, you may be able to repair it at home. If the damage is severe and the drywall needs to be completely replaced, you’ll need to call in a professional contractor. Additionally, sometimes water damage to drywalls is obvious, and sometimes it is harder to detect.

It’s important to address visible or suspected drywall damage right away, as mold can grow very quickly and pose health risks. It can also lead to structural damage to your property and more costly repairs in the future.

What is Drywall Water Damage?

Drywall is a sheet of white gypsum mineral that is kept together by thick exterior paper, and when water damage occurs, these materials absorb water. Even drywall that is only mildly affected by water will show water stains that need to be repaired and painted, and this is particularly true of drywall ceilings.

Mold can begin to grow inside the wall, and if the problem isn’t fixed, further issues like collapsed ceilings and structural damage can occur.

What is Drywall Water Damage

Does Wet Drywall Always Need To Be Replaced?

Wet drywall that shows water stains, discoloration, bubbling, and peeling paint and has softened areas needs to be replaced to protect your safety and your property. Wet drywall poses health hazards from mold and fire hazards because of the potential for electrical damage.

Whether wet drywall needs to be replaced also depends on the source of the water and the amount of time it has been wet. A water damage restoration expert can help determine if it can be dried and returned to its original condition or if it needs to be replaced.

If drywall is damaged by Category 3 water—water from toilets, sewage backups, and similar sources—it must be replaced. Hard surfaces like tile, porcelain, Formica, and aluminum can be sterilized, but all porous materials like drywall need to be replaced. 

It’s harder to determine whether drywall damaged by Category 2 water will need to be replaced. Category 2 water is from sources like appliance leaks and basement seepage. It may be unsanitary, but it poses a lower health risk than Category 3 water. Deep cleaning and disinfection may be enough to save the drywall.

If water has leaked from a roof, window, or pipe into the drywall, you will likely be able to dry out and save the wall, as long as mold is not present

Why Does Drywall Need To Be Replaced After Water Damage?

Water damage or flood damage can cause the integrity of interior drywall to be lost and introduce the risk of mold growth. 

Excess water in walls doesn’t only damage the drywall. It can seep into the 2 x 4 studs, get internal wiring wet, and soak into the insulation. When all of those wall components become wet, you’ll more often than not develop mold spores of some kind. When that happens, the mold will spread through the wall toward ventilation points and eventually become airborne throughout your home, causing respiratory problems and serious issues for anyone with allergies or asthma.

For these reasons, it is better to replace water-damaged or flood-damaged drywall than to risk mold exposure.

Why Does Drywall Need To Be Replaced After Water Damage

Signs of Water-Damaged Drywall

More than just the physical appearance of drywall can indicate water damage. But when there’s a leak and moisture remains in your walls, they start to soak it up, and it will eventually leach through the gypsum. This soaking action is called “wicking,” and the longer the water is left to wick in the drywall, the greater the damage will be. Paint or wallpaper will start bubbling or peeling off, and then the drywall can begin to crack and crumble. Mold can grow and spread behind the wall, and the sagging and buckling will turn into a serious structural problem.

Here are some of the signs of water-damaged drywall:

Wet or dark spots

Water marks are often the result of a small, constant leak, which can come from an overflowed bathtub, plumbing malfunction, or leaky roof. It takes less than 24 hours for this type of water damage to become visible. When you see brown spots, contact a restoration specialist as soon as you can before the damage worsens.

Flaking or peeling paint

When you have excess moisture in your walls, water tries to escape through the exterior of the wall, causing the drywall to become soggy and flimsy, and in turn, causing paint damage.

Mold on walls

Mold spores can grow on nearly every surface, including water, and they can also lay dormant in a warm, moist environment. You should keep an eye out for mold in basements, bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms and especially near sinks and high-use faucets. You should also note that mold and similar contaminants can grow in a variety of colors.

Musty smell

Stinky odors are an indication of mold growth that may not be visible yet. After heavy rain or a flood, your home may have a stale, musty, or earthy odor. Common places for mold growth are behind bathroom tiles, underneath carpet, inside walls, above ceiling panels, and near basement plumbing.

Unusually high water bills

Sudden, inexplicable spikes in your utility bills are a sign of a plumbing issue. You should check toilets, faucets and sinks, washing machines, exposed basement pipes, water pumps, water heaters, and hoses for leaks.

When Should You Hire a Professional Drywall Replacement Company?

Since it can be hard to tell the extent of water damage inside your walls just from visible or noticeable clues, you should contact restoration contractors to repair water-damaged drywall. 

Water damage restoration companies have the equipment and experience to replace drywall while also eradicating mold and improving the durability of your structure, preventing issues in the future. To protect your health and your property, you should turn to a trusted company when you are affected by water damage.

Dririte - Water damage restoration service

Contact DriRite for Water-Damaged Drywall Replacement

DriRite has a team of licensed professionals ready to tackle all problems stemming from water damage, including reconstruction, mold remediation, full restoration, and more. 

If drywall or any other structure in your home has been damaged by water, you can contact DriRite 24/7 for comprehensive water damage restoration services or more information about water damage emergencies.

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