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So There is Moisture in Your Walls…

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Nothing good comes from the presence of moisture inside wall cavities — the number of damaging consequences that can happen to a home is extensive:

  • Toxic mold growth
  • Rotting wood structure
  • Stained swollen drywall
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Ruined insulation
  • Insect infestation
  • Continuous odors

Moisture inside a wall is typically a result of some fault or failure in the construction or maintenance of the house. It also will never get better on its own. Instead, things will get progressively worse. Here are reasons why and how wetness can seep into areas where it doesn’t belong.

  • Condensation. Gaps and cracks in exterior walls may allow cold outdoor air to seep into the warmer interior wall space. This cold air will naturally form condensation on surfaces inside the wall cavity, creating a perpetually moist environment trapped inside the wall. Careful review is required to locate and seal external cracks and gaps that allow outdoor air to infiltrate exterior walls.
  • Plumbing leaks. Water supply lines routed through wall cavities may have tiny pinholes due to deterioration and/or seepage at joints. These may leak continuously or intermittently, soaking insulation inside walls, saturating wood structure and drywall. Uninsulated copper cold water pipes may also “sweat” condensation in amounts sufficient to cause damage inside walls, particularly if structural cracks and gaps allow humid outdoor air to infiltrate the wall cavity.
  • Penetrating rainwater. Exterior siding resists showers and splashes, not water flowing continuously down the wall. Clogged gutters overflowing during rain frequently cascade water down exterior walls. Water penetrating siding may also infiltrate the wall void, triggering internal moisture damage.

Drying Out

If external signs aren’t obvious, eliminating suspected moisture inside walls requires determining its exact location. Moisture meters that utilize needle probes can identify presence of moisture inside wall cavities without drilling large holes. Once moisture is pinpointed, the wall can be opened for drying, treating mold contamination, repairing any plumbing leaks and removing saturated insulation, if present. Rotted wood can also be replaced.

Using qualified professional services to identify the cause and make the repairs will be safer and more cost-effective in the long run.

Can Drywall be Sealed and Painted After Water Damage?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

When indoor water damage strikes, drywall is often among the most conspicuous casualties. A ruptured pipe inside a wall cavity, a roof leak dripping down through the ceiling during heavy rain, water flooding a room and rising to meet the bottom of the walls—any of these scenarios can affect the highly absorbent combination of gypsum core and thin cardboard backing that composes a sheet of drywall. Is it a lost cause?

Maybe, Maybe Not

If wet drywall loses structural stability and sags or becomes deformed —or crumbles or collapses—it’s not a candidate for anything other than replacement. But what about drywall that remains intact, yet displays the discolored blotch that’s often left behind when wet drywall dries? Can you successfully seal and paint that ugly stain out of your life?

Here are some guidelines to painting stained, water-damaged drywall.

  • Rule 1: You can’t paint drywall until it’s completely dry. Ideally, this should be verified with use of a moisture meter to be certain. To adequately dry soaked drywall and prevent mold growth, professional water damage remediation experts utilize equipment such as an industrial dehumidifier running inside the sealed room as well as high-volume fans that continuously move air to accelerate the drying process. Only when the moisture meter reading drops below 1% —usually not before at least three days of intensive drying following the initial contact with water—should painting intact drywall be considered.
  • Once it is tested and confirmed dry, seal the drywall by painting the affected area with a thin application of an oil-based or alcohol-based primer. Allow the first coat to dry completely, then apply a second coat of primer.
  • After the primer has fully dried, you can apply the first coat of latex or whatever other type of paint was originally used. It may be difficult to match the existing color when painting only a small stained area affected by water, so you may have to paint the entire wall or ceiling for consistency’s sake. After the first coat dries thoroughly, apply a finish coat.

Do Water-Stained Ceilings Need to be Replaced?

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

water stained ceilingWater-stained ceilings are unsightly, but often enough, minor damage can be repaired so your ceiling looks good as new. Other times, the damage has gone too far and replacement is the only option. Knowing how to decide will save you time and money.

Replace or Repair?

In general, it’s best to repair a water-stained ceiling when possible. Not only is replacing a section of ceiling messy and time-consuming, it’s also difficult to match the new section with the rest.

Older lath and plaster ceilings stand up to water damage reasonably well and even a crack up to 1/4 inch can be repaired. Drywall (plasterboard) ceilings are more susceptible to damage because drywall, being made partly of paper, is highly absorbent and breaks down quickly when wet. These ceilings can be repaired only if the damage is superficial, such as light stains or bubbled paint.

If your plaster or drywall ceiling is crumbling, swollen or bulging even after drying or shows signs of mold growth, the material should be replaced by a professional.

Taking Care of Minor Damage

In a plaster ceiling, you can seal a small crack with a strip of fiberglass mesh tape, then plaster over the tape. Repairing a larger crack is trickier, but doable with the aid of plaster buttons (washers) and drywall screws.

Water damage of less than around 4 inches across is usually safe to repair yourself. For anything larger, consult a professional.

To repair damage in plaster, first let the ceiling dry completely, scrape off damaged material with a putty knife, then clean the area with a damp cloth. Next apply one to three coats of stain-sealing primer or primer-sealer designed for your ceiling material. This prevents the stain from bleeding through better than ordinary primer.

When the primer is dry, apply a setting-type joint compound to repair a plaster ceiling. For drywall, apply ceiling paint. This paint is formulated to adhere to ceilings and hide imperfections more effectively than wall paint.

For more tips on dealing with water-stained ceilings and other water damage, contact us at Rytech.

3 Possible Causes Of Water Damage To Check On Regularly

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

ceiling water damageWaiting for it to happen isn’t the best strategy to avoid water damage in the home. Many water damage crisis events are actually the culmination of an ongoing problem that’s been worsening for some time. Keeping an eye on a few of the most likely suspects—and taking prompt preventive action, ASAP—is always preferable to reacting after the fact. To avoid water damage in the home before it happens, here are three possible causes to check on regularly:

Roof Leakage
Chronic roof leakage can severely damage wooden attic structure, ruin insulation and spawn toxic mold before you’re aware of it. By the time roof leakage finally drips through the ceiling down into living spaces, extensive attic water damage is a fait accompli. A couple of times a year, climb into the attic and look for evidence of leaks. If it isn’t raining, you may only see evidence of previous water intrusion such as dark streaks on the underside of sub-roofing, rotting wood structure, saturated or deteriorated insulation and the telltale musty odor of mold contamination.

Plumbing Issues
Drips and other signs of plumbing dysfunction shouldn’t be accepted as “normal.” A dripping water supply line is a red flag warning of a potentially catastrophic pipe rupture that could flood your house with hundreds of gallons. Inspect water supply lines anywhere they are visible including inside kitchen and bathroom cabinets and behind fixtures. Shine a flashlight into the crawl space and look for wet spots or dried mineral residue on pipes that indicates seepage.

Sewer Problems
Buried under your yard, the household sewer line can harbor a hidden source of water damage, poised to strike. Tree root intrusion, collapsing segments and other unseen dysfunction can trigger reflux of raw sewage into the house—a toxic biohazard that requires extensive professional decontamination to make the premises safe again. Video inspection of the sewer line is the gold standard to check for developing problems before a backup occurs. Schedule inspection with a qualified plumber every three to five years.

Signs And Symptoms Of Drywall Water Damage

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

drywall water damage on ceilingIndoor water damage often includes drywall water damage. When pipe ruptures, overflowing fixtures, outdoor flooding, or other inundations affect a house, this ubiquitous building material is usually involved. Composed of a layer of gypsum sandwiched between cardboard paper facing, drywall’s water resistance is very dependent on duration of exposure. Once drywall has absorbed water, it may not be salvageable or worth the cost of attempting to dry out and repair versus removal and replacement with new material.

Evaluating drywall water damage

According to Gypsum Association guidelines, if drywall has been affected by Category 3 water —such as from a sewage backup or outdoor flooding—the decision is a done deal: Replace it. Absorbed contamination such as e coli bacteria and outdoor pollutants like fuel, pesticides and other chemicals make drywall a toxic hazard that needs to be eliminated from the house. Here are some other signs and symptoms to evaluate drywall water damage:

  • If drywall shows visual evidence of bulging or sagging, this is a sign of saturation and the material must be removed. A soaked, sagging drywall ceiling or wall is also a safety hazard to occupants. Other signs of saturated drywall include swelling or buckling and/or pulling loose from the mounting screws that secure the material to studs or ceiling joists.
  • If drywall feels wet and/or mushy to the touch and has remained wet for longer than 48 hours before drying procedures could be initiated, mold growth is very likely to occur. Removal is therefore advised, along with any wet insulation behind it. Mold remediation techniques should be applied inside wall and ceiling voids covered by the material.
  • In addition to visual signs and symptoms, a water damage recovery professional will utilize more accurate, definitive methods to evaluate drywall condition after water damage. This includes use of moisture meters with specific settings to measure moisture content inside gypsum wallboard. Based on these readings, superficial residual moisture may be eliminated with standard drying procedures including forced air and heat while saturated drywall will likely be replaced.

Contact Rytech, Inc. for information about the professional approach to resolve drywall water damage.


When Drying A Water Damaged Space Isn’t A DIY Project…

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

industrial dryerything beyond that limited scope, however, properly drying a water damaged space requires more than do-it-yourself grit and determination. Here are some additional scenarios where professional service is indicated.

  • If the source is questionable. Only Category 1 water, straight from a broken household supply line or other sanitary source should be considered DIY-friendly. Category 2, typically drain water, an overflowing toilet bowl or washing machine, etc, contains bacterial contamination and requires prompt, professional removal. Category 3—also known as “black water”—refers to a sewage backup or outdoor flooding that has inundated the house. Classified as an acute toxic bio-hazard, clean-up should be handled strictly by experienced technicians only.
  • If water is on the move. Inside a house, water rapidly migrates under walls and through floors away from the point of origin. Drywall, insulation and other building materials absorb and retain water. Damaging wetness can spread far and wide long after the initial event—pipe rupture, flood, whatever—has been resolved. Simply mopping up what you see here and now only removes a partial amount of total moisture from the house.
  • If you’re not equipped. Effective, efficient water damage recovery requires specialized equipment purpose-built for the task. This ranges from powerful extractors to pull water out of carpets and flooring, high volume pumps to remove standing water, ventilation fans, moisture detection meters, industrial strength dehumidifiers and other stuff that probably isn’t out in your garage. Reputable, certified water damage recovery firms make substantial investments in the latest hardware and technology to do the job right.


4 Crucial Steps For Dealing With Water Damage In The Home Safely

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

home floodingDealing with water damage can certainly be inconvenient and frustrating. However, it’s important to realize that the same conditions that cause water damage can also be a source of real safety concerns. Most structures including homes aren’t constructed to be waterproof. Therefore, anytime water is released inside a house or inundates the premises from outdoors, please consider safety first before dealing with water damage yourself.

Electrical Danger
Even after extensive water damage, household electrical circuits may still be “hot” with live electricity. Ensure safety by having an electrician check the premises. Never wade into standing water or walk into saturated areas until a professional has confirmed that it’s safe. Don’t attempt to shut off electricity at the main power panel yourself if the panel or the immediate surrounding area is wet. If the local power grid is down due to flooding or a storm, don’t assume the outage will continue. Power may be restored unexpectedly at any time without notice and could present a severe hazard.

Structural Issues
Some building materials are not water-resistant and become hazardous when wet. Beware of bulging, water-logged drywall after flooding. This material can absorb a large volume of water that dramatically increases weight and makes the wall unstable. Saturated drywall may collapse suddenly and cause injury. Ceiling panels are also absorbent and may fall without warning.

Contaminated Water
If the source of water damage is clean water such as from a ruptured supply line, it’s generally not an immediate health hazard. Water damage from a backed-up sewer or outdoor flooding, however, is a toxic hazard and contact should be avoided. Water damage recovery personnel are equipped to safely clean up after these events with professional protective gear.

Hidden Hazards
The aftermath of water damage can harbor unpleasant surprises: Slip and fall injuries due to wet surfaces are frequent, standing water may conceal hazards like sharp debris, dangerous animals such as snakes may enter the premises along with floodwater. Stay alert to these hidden dangers and avoid injury.

Need experienced help or advice dealing with water damage? Contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.


The Hidden Dangers Of Drywall Water Damage…

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

hidden drywall damageThere’s more to drywall water damage than meets the eye. Drywall construction is the standard throughout residences, composing both the walls and ceilings of most homes. When a burst pipe or indoor flooding from some other source occurs, drywall is usually the primary building material affected. The most conspicuous signs of drywall water damage are stains, sagging or bulging or actual collapse of the material. In these cases, the most cost-effective recourse is replacement of affected drywall sheets.

What You Don’t See After Drywall Water Damage

Here are a few of the less obvious drywall water damage issues:

  • Mold growth begins inside wall cavities behind drywall within 24 to 48 hours after water intrusion. Drywall forms an excellent media for mold growth because it absorbs moisture that activates mold spores and the paper backing of drywall provides cellulose, a food that nourishes active growing mold. Drywall severely contaminated with mold on the inside may show no signs of mold on the exterior. If active mold growth is detected inside the wall after water damage, drywall must be removed and discarded and the interior of the wall cavity treated with fungicides specifically formulated to eliminate mold
  • Drywall covering the interior side of exterior walls — as well as up on the ceiling — normally conceals a thick layer of insulation. Saturated insulation will typically not readily dry inside an enclosed wall cavity or ceiling. First, the continuous wetness supports toxic mold growth. In addition, moisture from the soggy material will initiate wood rot in wall studs and other wooden structure, requiring more extensive construction work to remove and repair damaged constituents.
  • Wet drywall may lose structural integrity that can’t be restored by drying alone. Seams between individual sheets may no longer align. Because drywall swells when wet, the material may pull away from fasteners and remain insecure even after drying. The paper backing on the unseen side facing the wall cavity may peel away, compromising the strength and durability of the inner layer of gypsum.


How To Spot Hidden Shower Leaks

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

leaky showerProfessional home inspectors know that shower leaks can be tricky to trace back to the source. Leaky showers often cause gradual, unseen water damage that progresses for some time before it becomes conspicuous. By then, structural damage may have occurred. Mold growth may be triggered in hidden areas and chronically wet wood attracts termites, as well. Be alert to these signs of shower leaks and take action ASAP to correct the problem and minimize water damage.

  • Water pooling on bathroom floor during a shower. This is often the easiest fix. If it’s a shower stall with a sliding or hinged door, a defective door seal may be allowing splashes to escape the stall. The seal is usually a replaceable item without installing a new door.
  • Dampness affecting wall adjacent to the shower stall, above floor level. Leaks in plumbing supply lines to the shower, the valve assembly or the shower arm supporting the shower head usually occur inside the wall. Wetness gradually spreads, saturating the wall and causing tile to fall off or paint to peel. This is frequently noticeable at a level higher than the floor, distinguishing it from water leakage through the bottom of the stall.
  • Stains on ceiling of room beneath bathroom. Usually, this indicates leakage through the floor of the stall. Shower stalls incorporate a drip pan or membrane underneath the unit to catch leakage through tile grout, the shower drain gasket or cracks in a fiberglass stall. Old-style drip pans may deteriorate with age and allow leakage to soak through the subfloor, rotting and deteriorating the plywood, then penetrate the ceiling below. If the shower is on the ground floor, water damage may be visible from the crawl space directly under the stall. Replacement of a defective shower pan usually entails substantial work to remove the stall. However, unlike original equipment pans installed in older homes, new flexible PVC or chlorinated polyethylene membranes have virtually unlimited service life and help prevent shower water damage for the long term.

Ask the experts at Rytech, Inc. about professional service to remediate water damage due to shower leaks.