How to Repair Water Damaged Drywall
Drywall, also known as Sheetrock, is an almost perfect wallboard material. It is easy to install, comes in nice large sheets, is wonderfully smooth on the surface, and not so hard that you can’t hang a picture on the wall. However, drywall does have one major weakness: water. When exposed to water, drywall can become easily damaged. This article will begin to answer the common question of how to repair water damaged drywall.
Determine the Extent Of The Damage
The repair methods for water damaged drywall depend heavily on the extend of the damage. Just how saturated is the material? There are a few ways to determine this. Some are simple DIY type tests, others are more complex requiring special equipment.
Simple Tests for Water Damaged Drywall
Visual Inspection –
Sometimes the only way you know that water has contacted your drywall is the small stain that appears on the surface. Usually a ring will form around the source of the water. in cased like this, the damage is often not severe and can be dealt with fairly simply if the water source can be repaired.
In more severe cases, it becomes visually obvious that a leak has occurred along a larger area. This could be the case in the event of a burst-pipe or other flood-type event. In these cases a line along an entire section of wall becomes apparent. Depending on the level of exposure to water, this type of damage can sometimes still be dealt with fairly easily.
Physical Testing –
It’s possible to gauge how much water has been absorbed by drywall by physically pressing various objects into the material. Often an sample of undamaged drywall can be used as a gauge. A sharp pencil, for example, can be used to get an understanding of how soft the damaged drywall is. In normal material, a considerable effort is required to push a pencil head into the wall. In water damaged drywall, it is much easier. Be careful! You could push right through and cause further damage.
Electronic Testing –
Many specialists in water-damage repair keep an electronic moisture meter in their toolkit and use it frequently. This tool has probes that can be pushed into the wall, like a small thumb-tack, and return a reading of the moisture content, generally in terms of a percentage. This helps to determine the extent of water damage to the drywall.
Determining The Proper Repair
It’s not uncommon for companies with a profit potential to make a real issue out of slightly water damaged drywall. They might arrive on the scene immediately after a leak, apply an electronic moisture meter to the wall, see a high moisture content, and start ripping out that drywall for full replacement.
That approach isn’t always necessary. Sometimes the best approach is to wait a few days after the water source has been repaired and proper drying procedures are complete before making a decision as to repair method of slightly water damaged drywall. (If it is so severe that the wall is soggy or breaking apart, replacement is the only choice)
Drywall, will, in fact, dry out. If the source of the water is eliminated, a small area of water damage can often be repaired simply with a stain killer type paint product and paint. It can be that simple.
Other times, a small repair can be made by cutting out the drywall just around the worst of the wet area and doing a drywall patch there. This can be textured to match and painted to blend perfectly. It will look as-if the problem never occurred.
One final word of caution is to keep the possibility of mold and mildew in mind. When moist, dark, warm conditions are present, mold can form. If you have concerns about this, you can cut out a small section of drywall in the worst area and see if there is mold on the back. If so, you might need a professional to help with the issue. While relatively harmless to most people, small amounts of mold can be dangerous to some.
In any case, if you have some water damaged drywall in your home, rest assured that the repair is possible and may not be as hard as you think.