Eight Facts About Drywall Water Damage

drywall water damage

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 home 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, 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. 

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