If you’ve recently decided it’s time to tackle those ugly water stains left over from the previous owners, or you’ve been through a hellish experience yourself and had a leak invade your home – we’re sorry!
But, if you do tick either of those boxes, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’re going to give you an overview of everything you need to know to repair water-damaged drywall, whether to DIY or hire professionals – the best way to approach water-damaged or stained drywall. Also, discuss repairing water-damaged drywall vs. removal situations and, of course- immediate steps after experiencing a water leak of your own.
We know your home is precious to you, and we’ll help you restore and protect it with the information below. So, let’s get to it!
How To Repair Water Damaged Drywall
Water damage restoration - an overview
It’s important to understand that in most cases of moderate-severe water damage, it’s never merely a case of removing the water and going on your merry way. You need to consider if there’s any water-damaged drywall repair needed and how to prevent any issues in the future. There are multiple steps involved, and each will be unique to your specific situation.
Many situations may have you reaching for the phone to contact a restoration company. The most common causes of water damage that we see are:
- Leaky or burst pipe
- Flooding from a heavy storm
- Clogged rain gutters and downpipes
- Condensation or leaking from an air-conditioning unit
- Regular excess humidity levels
- Overflowing toilets
- Ruptured sewer or septic lines
- Inadequate landscape design causes water to flow indoors
One of the most common outcomes is water-damaged drywall elsewhere in your home. In either case, you should repair water-damaged drywall and remove any remaining wet drywall to prevent future issues such as mold growth.
Depending on the severity of your damage and the initial cause, your home will be inspected and rated to determine an initial scope of work and how quickly we need to take action (with flooding, it’s always the sooner, the better). Once you contact a restoration company, they will inspect, drain, or pump the surface water, assess the more profound damage, and do any necessary repair work.
Flooding cases are assessed in classes to label the severity of the issue. Case 1 floods are the tamer and easily repairable, with Case 4 being the most severe. Case 4 floods may require specialized equipment to handle the situation. For example, if there is a sewage backup issue and there is more than mere water hanging about- this brings in additional concerns such as health and sanitization.
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How long does it take for water damage to dry completely?
This is one of the most common questions. Homeowners want to know when their basement or affected areas will completely dry and be back in action; that is a fair question.
It is assessed case-by-case basis, mainly if it’s not acted upon immediately. For example, some families return from vacation to find a pipe has burst in their absence, they’re surrounded by water-damaged drywall, and they’ve got a catastrophe on their hands, with no idea how long water has been pouring into their home.
Let’s assume the water leak or flooding is caught and acted upon almost immediately. After water removal, the drying out process can generally take between 3 and 5 days. But, again, there are so many factors to consider, such as the space’s size, the water’s depth, and the materials that have been soaking up the water.
A professional water restoration team is best equipped to handle these situations as they have high-intensity resources to aid in the drying process and speed things along as much as possible. Air movers, dehumidifiers, industrial strengths fans, and heaters all help us get the job done. However, please know that some materials, such as drywall that even professional resources, have minimal effect on.
Can you save all of my possessions from water?
This is probably the second most common question we get. Unfortunately, not everything can be saved and restored to its original condition. Restoration technicians will do their absolute best to try and salvage your home and contents. However, not everything may make the final cut. And sometimes it’s a case of, “let’s see how this one dries out with time – fingers crossed!”.
Most of your general home contents, such as couches, chairs, carpets, rugs, curtains, and draperies, can be salvaged and repaired. Electronic items generally need to be acted upon quickly and dried out as soon as possible! Water-damaged drywall can either be cut and patched or replaced entirely.
*Warning: Please don’t ever attempt to save your electronics and additional items from a flooded or water-damaged area if there is a live current present!
Wooden furniture and thing like vinyl flooring can soak up water fast, and the items’ original shape and structure may be forever changed.
To restore or remove?
What does it mean if there are still water stains visible, but everything else seems dry and okay? Whether you’ve just moved into a new place with existing water signs or previously had a leak that has since been repaired, water stains can signify that your repair job isn’t complete. The truth is, it needs to be assessed by a professional to determine if any further action is required.
Water stains can indicate that the drywall is, in fact, wet and needs to be repaired or replaced. Leaving wet drywall in your home can open up a new set of issues such as mold and mildew growth.
Is it possible to DIY water damage restoration?
If this has crossed your mind, know you’re not the first. And yes, while there may be some benefits to DIY-ing the job yourself, there are also elevated risks, even if you consider yourself a somewhat skilled handyman. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each, and we’ll let you make the final decision yourself.
- “You’ll save yourself money by doing it yourself” Hmm, maybe, while that can be the case in some instances, if you’re not a skilled professional, you run the risk of missing significant water damage signs, which may end up costing you more money to fix down the road.
- You can do it on your schedule. We’re sure you have a rich life with work obligations, family, and various responsibilities. Therefore, some say they “don’t have time to wait around for a contracted professional” and prefer to do it themselves.
- You’ve just been through whatever hell-ish experience that caused your water damage, and you want to reclaim your sense of control by taking matters into your own hands.
- As mentioned above, if you don’t get the job done correctly (For example, can you reuse the same drywall screws on your new drywall?) and thoroughly the first time around, you could likely be opening yourself up to future issues down the line. If you don’t know how to repair wet drywall or assess drywall ceiling water damage, you’re likely out of your element. Such as mold growth, health issues due to the damp environment, and even structural concerns. All these will cost you more than money in the long run.
- You don’t have the time required available to devote to this project. Water damage restoration is a time-sensitive issue. Suppose the situation is left untreated to any degree. If you have large sections of water-damaged drywall, you are much more likely to be looking at rebuilding entire segments of your home rather than the more desired repairing and restoring. You’re just one human, but with professional restoration service, you have a whole team to tackle the job for you.
- You don’t have adequate equipment. Most flooding and water-damage repair jobs require water removal and draining, drying out for 3-5 days, and repairing. So you will need a water pump, industrial-strength air movers and heaters, and building materials for any necessary repairs (such as; drywall, drywall clips, drywall tape, utility knife, drywall screw, wall studs, etc.) These resources generally go beyond what most homeowners have lying around in their garages.
- It can be dangerous work. You are putting yourself at risk by inserting yourself into these jobs. A trained restoration staff knows what to look for and what steps should be addressed first to ensure a safe inspection can be carried out of the entire affected area.
In our opinion, the cons outweigh the pros regarding DIY water damage restoration. So take care of your safety, house, and wallet, and hire a trained professional team to repair your beloved home.
Oh, and if you’re looking to repair wet drywall or have drywall ceiling water damage- you’re best off using new drywall screws and drywall panels, as the previous ones could be corroded due to water exposure!
Steps in repair water damaged drywall
Step 1: Inspection and containment
First things first – safety. Once the restoration team is on-site, they will diligently carry out a safety inspection to determine all the sources of the water present. You may be surprised that water isn’t just coming in from the ‘obvious’ places but additional ones too.
They will shut down any sources necessary. This could mean that your water and power may be turned off for a short period for us to assess the rest of the situation safely. This step may also help identify other stakeholders required to address the problem, such as a plumber.
Step 2: Water damage assessment
Once the restoration team and the required parties can get a closer look at the more significant situation, they can start to determine which techniques would be best used for your home. They will also determine if any other hazardous materials are present such as chemical materials and electronics, to ensure a safe space for all workers throughout the process.
Step 3: Draining and removal of water
Depending on the cause of your water damage, it could be 2 feet deep in standing water! In this case, the standing water should be extracted to unveil the rest of your home and possessions.
This can be a time-consuming process and is best-actioned as-soon-as-possible.
Step 4: Removing damaged materials
Once the bulk of the water is removed, you will need to remove any damaged materials, such as wet drywall. Wet drywall can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew and should be removed as soon as possible.
- Cut out the damaged drywall: Use a sharp utility knife to cut out the damaged section of drywall. Cut along the edges of the damage, careful not to cut into undamaged areas.
- Remove the damaged drywall: Carefully remove the damaged drywall pieces. If it is too difficult to remove, you may need to use a small pry bar or hammer. Be careful not to damage any surrounding areas.
- Remove any loose debris: Once you have cut out the damaged drywall, use a vacuum to remove any loose debris created during the drywall removal. Be sure to vacuum up any dust or debris that may have settled on nearby surfaces.
Step 5: Drying out
The next step is to dry the area thoroughly. This can be done using industrial-strength air movers, heaters, and alike to dry out the residual water hiding in plain sight within your belongings, carpets, and furniture. This is often the lengthier step in the process. Depending on the extent of the initial water damage, this usually takes around 3-5 days, but please remember; that every situation is unique. Next, we will work on evaporating dampness and lowering humidity to prevent mold growth.
Step 6: Sanitization and deodorizing
Flooding and excess water damage can create a distinct musty smell in your space. Therefore, we use high-quality air scrubbers and deodorizers more in-depth than that green tree you hang on your rearview mirror during this step. You will want to create an environment to prevent mold spores from settling and growing.
Step 7: Restore, repair, rebuild damaged drywall
In this final stage, it’s to restore your space to its living state. Now, for some items, that may mean completely removing them and rebuilding the area or simply repairing the damaged walls. More often than not, it’s a blend of the two.
- Prep the area for repair: Once you have removed all of the loose debris, use a piece of sandpaper to rough up the edges of the damage. This will help the repair compound adhere to the drywall better.
- Apply joint compound: Use a putty knife to apply a thick layer of joint compound over the damaged area. Feather the edges of the joint compound so that it is flush with the surrounding drywall.
- Let the joint compound dry: Allow the joint compound to dry completely before sanding or painting. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on drying time.
- Sand the area smooth: Once the repair compound is dry, use a piece of sandpaper to smooth out the area. Be sure to sand evenly so that the repaired area is level with the rest of the drywall surface.
- Paint the repaired area: After you have sanded the area smoothly, you can paint over the repair to match the rest of the wall. Use a paintbrush or roller to apply a thin layer of paint.
- Apply a second coat of paint: Once the first coat of paint is dry, apply a second coat. This will help blend the repair into the rest of the wall further.
- Let the paint dry: Allow the paint to dry completely before replacing any furniture or fixtures in the area. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on drying time.
- Enjoy your newly repaired wall!: You have now successfully repaired your water-damaged wall! Following these simple steps can fix minor damage yourself without calling a professional.
Hopefully, you’ll need a few minor repairs like resealing floors, replacing skirting boards, and such. But if you have wet drywall, you will likely require slightly more in-depth repairs and replacements.
The main takeaways
- Never enter a water-damaged or flooded area if you are unsure of the potential hazards, such as chemicals, electricity, and live wires.
- If purchasing or moving into a new space, investigate any water signs present before committing to anything, as they may be a sign of a much larger issue.
- Trust the experts in the field and allow them to aid you in the aftermath of this undesirable event.
- Act fast! Even minor leaks can cause long-term damage, lead to more significant issues such as mold growth health concerns, and cause more intense home repair work.
We know how stressful these situations can be, so please, know that we are here to support you and help restore your home.