Your Drywall Got Wet — Now What?

Drywall

You take a much-needed vacation, only to return a week later to find that your pipes froze and burst, and your entire home is flooded. Or perhaps someone left a window open during a rainstorm, and the walls surrounding it are now wet.

There are any number of reasons that the walls and ceiling of your home could get wet, ranging from minor events that are easy to clean up to major catastrophes that require more in-depth remediation. Regardless of the cause, though, one thing is for certain: When your drywall gets wet, it needs to be cleaned up and possibly repaired — as soon as possible.

What Is Drywall?

Drywall, also known as sheetrock or gypsum, is one of the most common building materials in modern homes. Replacing hand applied plaster for walls and ceilings, drywall is made from gypsum and other materials and extruded between two sheets of paper. It’s a fairly durable material, but with one caveat: It needs to stay dry. The only exception is green wall, which is treated with a coating to help resist moisture and designed for use in places where water could be an issue, like bathrooms. Green wall can still become saturated when there is more than the usual amount of water and may need to be repaired if that happens.

When drywall gets wet, it can cause dozens of problems. For starters, wet drywall loses its structural integrity, and it can warp or even collapse, especially when it’s used for a ceiling. Wet drywall can also rot and mold, which can present a significant health risk, especially if it is black mold. Unfortunately, major damage can occur in just a matter of days, so it’s important to address wet drywall right away.

When Wet Drywall Is An Issue

It’s important to note that just because drywall gets wet doesn’t mean you need to repair or replace it. If the wall gets wet from a spilled glass of water — or if water comes in from a rainstorm — and is wiped up right away, you aren’t going to have any problems. Even a small leak, if addressed right away, won’t irreparably harm drywall. If you catch the problem and fix the leak and get the area dry quickly, the worst that’s likely to happen is a bit of discoloration, which can be covered up with paint. If you notice warping or sagging, though, more intensive repairs are necessary.

Typically, if drywall is exposed to a lot of moisture for an extended period (like that week you were away from home on vacation) it’s going to need to be replaced. This doesn’t always mean that the entire sheet needs to be replaced. An experienced Los Angeles drywall repair service can remove damaged sections of the material and replace them, and you won’t even be able to tell where the damage was.

However, if the damage is extensive, then the entire piece must be replaced. Again, warping, discoloration and sagging is a dead giveaway that something is wrong, but that doesn’t always show up right away. If you know the wall has gotten wet, touch it with firm pressure. If t crumbles into a chalky powder, then it needs to be replaced.

When the drywall is on the ceiling, there are additional signs to look for. Bubbling and sagging are indicative of a serious problem. Bubbling often indicates that water is pooling on the surface above, and it’s only a matter of time before the drywall collapses and you have an even bigger mess. It’s a good idea to check your attic several times a year to catch any leaks before they become a big problem, as even a small, slow leak can lead to big trouble down the road.

Although drywall is never used as load-bearing material, and therefore moisture won’t cause structural issues, wet drywall can be a sign that there are problems that could be significant in the future. Not to mention, the unsightly stains and mold (and smell), as well as the health issues that can come from the mold and mildew, make taking care of water issues a priority. Stay aware of water problems in your home, take steps to prevent leaks, and clean up messes when they happen, and you shouldn’t have any serious problems with your drywall.

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