Drywall Water Damage

Quick Summary

Drywall water damage may cause you anxiety and aggravation, whether from a leaky roof, condensation from your central air conditioning or flooding. Proactively monitoring your home and rectifying water leaks immediately will limit damage and reconstruction needs. Whether it be flooding damage or a sink pipe leak, know you can fix the issues with a trained professional’s help.

About Drywall Water Damage

Drywall water damage occurs when your home is exposed to water resulting from a flood, leaky pipes or a leaky roof. Drywall, also called sheetrock, gypsum board, wallboard, or plasterboard, is susceptible to rot and damage in homes with high levels of humidity and unmitigated moisture.

In the event drywall water damage occurs, act quickly to limit damage and avoid mildew and mold growth. Mold may begin to grow on drywall within 48 hours of exposure to moisture.

What Causes Drywall Water Damage?

Drywall water damage may be caused by sudden water exposure in your home, such as from storms, floodwaters, fire and plumbing issues.

If your home has a foundation or structural problems, this may also contribute to drywall water damage that builds up slowly over time and often goes unnoticed.

Plumbing Leaks

Plumbing leaks tend to occur suddenly and without warning, causing significant damage in a short time. Many homeowners are caught by surprise, not knowing that anything was wrong with their plumbing, fixtures or appliance hose lines.

If you’ve experienced drywall water damage, it could be due to plumbing issues such as:

  • Leaky pipes near faucets, showers or within the ceiling
  • Burst and broken pipes
  • Ruptured appliance hose lines, such as from washing machines, dishwashers or refrigerators
  • Fault air conditioning units or radiators
  • Broken hot water tanks

Being proactive will help protect your home from water damage. Conduct frequent visual inspections to check for water dripping, damp carpets or walls and stains on the ceiling or walls.

Inspect pipes under sinks, washing machine water lines, AC units, visible plumbing pipes as well as the roof and around windows and doors. Water damage may be light or heavy—light water damage may allow you to dry out drywall, but heavy dampening will require drywall replacement.

Foundation and Structural Leaks and Damage

Foundation leaks or seeping may mean groundwater from the outside is being pushed in through the foundation wall. If there are exterior foundation cracks, the pressure from the water will push it through the foundation wall, which may result from:

  • Heavy seasonal rainfall
  • Storms like hurricanes and blizzards
  • Clogged gutters and downspouts

Foundation water issues may also be from leaking underground pipes that go undetected. Homeowners should visually inspect the foundation regularly to detect a water leak quickly, starting the remediation process immediately to avoid the need for water damage restoration services.

Signs of Drywall Water Damage

Drywall water damage may cause an odor from mildew or mold on baseboards, walls and caulk. It may also cause water stains on the ceiling, peeling paint and wallpaper and warped or cracked drywall. The damage may come from inside and outside your home.

While visually inspecting your home may help, you may need to use a moisture meter to detect water on the wall studs, ceiling joists or detect wet insulation or fiberglass, which can’t be seen.

Discoloration and Fading

Damaged drywall may be discolored or faded due to continued exposure to moisture of the affected area. Moisture will cause wet drywall and mold growth—both occurring when the affected area remains wet for too long.

Discoloration and fading may occur in areas without insulation or damp insulation or on ceilings or walls continuously exposed to some level of moisture.

If you suspect drywall water damage, use a moisture meter to be certain.

Peeling Paint and Wallpaper

Peeling or bubbling paint can happen overnight and tends to surprise the homeowner. When the moisture reaches the surface layer (the paint) from inside the wall, it tends to go undetected.

By the time you can see paint peel and bubble, moisture levels behind the drywall tend to be quite high, indicating a leak has been present for some time.

Musty or Mildew Odor

When moisture levels are not maintained, your home may have a musty odor, which may be a sign of mildew, mold spores or bacteria growth. While you may get used to the smell, do not ignore it—water damaged drywall is the perfect place for mold to flourish.

Adding a dehumidifier to your home may help reduce the moisture level and rid your home of the smell, but it’s still vital to inspect your home for further signs of hidden water damage.

Bulging or Sagging Drywall

Bulging or sagging drywall will be visible and wet to the touch.

Do not ignore signs of swelling or sagging drywall. It may mean there is a large leak putting pressure on the entire wall and may affect the structural integrity of your home.

Repair Water Damaged Drywall

What’s involved in the drywall repair process depends on how severe the damage is. Water damage repair may be a simple DIY project like removing a section of drywall, patching the leaky pipe and re-installing a new section of drywall.

On the other hand, the damage may be extensive, requiring restoration services to replace entire walls, including wall studs and fiberglass insulation.

Wet drywall may cause mold spores, which can cause health issues. Check the age of the home since older homes may have asbestos insulation or drywall. Damage to a large area of the house should be fixed by a professional to ensure safety and structural integrity.

DIY Drywall Water Damage Repair

The homeowner may accomplish DIY drywall water damage repair in small areas. Water left for 48 hours or more may inhibit mold and mildew growth and cause health issues.

When considering repairing wet drywall, follow these steps:

  • Find and repair the leak
  • Dry out the area
  • Wear protective equipment such as goggles, gloves and a mask
  • Remove the wet drywall, be sure to take an inch or two more than the wet area
  • Remove, discard and replace wet insulation
  • Replace the drywall using building materials such as drywall screws, joint compound, new drywall and insulation

After replacing the drywall, sand and paint the area until the new section matches your existing wall.

Restoration Services for Drywall Water Damage Repair

Extensive damage to your home is the number one reason to hire a remediation specialist. You may also want to hire a professional if you don’t have the time to do repairs on your own. Additionally, if you own a rental property, hiring a professional water damage restoration company can get your property back into habitable condition for your tenants faster.

Remediation specialists have the training and equipment to repair drywall water damage quickly and safely. Professionals use a combination of equipment to reduce humidity, eliminate moisture and improve indoor air quality:

  • Water vacuums
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Air movers
  • Air scrubbers

Finally, once the water damage has been remediated, professionals will do a final moisture test to ensure that nothing was missed. Moisture meters may be used by the professional to ensure your home no longer has water issues.

Drywall Water Damage Repair Costs

Drywall water damage remediation costs between $45 to $55 per square foot on average, and if fixed quickly, should cost around $1,200 up to $2,400 at the high end.

Patching of new drywall in a few square feet will be relatively easy and affordable. In the event, new drywall is needed and wall studs and insulation need replacing, the cost will be much more.

Contact your homeowner’s insurance to find out what repair costs are covered. If the damage is extensive, your insurance policy may help cover the damage costs, including the cost of a professional.

Find Water Damage Restoration Professionals Near You

While water damage may seem daunting and cause anxiety, take comfort in knowing water damage can be corrected and your home returned to a healthy living space.

Visually inspecting your home regularly and catching leaks early will help reduce damage and restoration costs.  Contact a remediation specialist as soon as possible after a flood, storm damage or large water leak to help ensure your home is returned to normal safely, quickly and economically.

Author:Water Damage Advisor
Water Damage Advisor

The Water Damage Advisor content team is made up of multiple contributors, writers, and editors. We are your resource hub for anything related to water damage, mold and restoration needs that you may be challenged with facing.

5 References
  1. Drywall 101. Water damage drywall cleanup. https://drywall101.com/articles/hanging/water_damage_cleanup
  2. Timothy Baron. Is drywall ruined once it’s wet? https://www.hunker.com/13418469/is-drywall-ruined-once-it-is-wet
  3. Vernon Trollinger. (2019). How to repair water-damaged drywall. https://blog.directenergy.com/how-to-repair-water-damaged-drywall/
  4. Drywall 101. Drywall water damage cleanup and repair. https://blog.directenergy.com/how-to-repair-water-damaged-drywall/
  5. Dale Cox. How to repair drywall water damage. https://www.do-it-yourself-help.com/repair-drywall-water-damage.html
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