Water leaks can cause great damage to your house, and as someone with experience in dealing with water damage in walls, I know that the process can be frustrating and time-consuming. But, you shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to do because I’m here to help. Let’s find out how to dry out a wall after water damage in 10 simple steps.
Possible Causes of Water Damage
Water damage means that there is an excessive amount of accumulated water in certain areas of your house. A slow water leak inside walls can create dampness that can then lead to mold and the rotting of the wood. Since that could become a major issue later on, it is crucial to act quickly and remove any moisture from the wall.
But, before you start, you should take the time to find the root of your problem. You need to explore all the possible causes of the water leak in order to stop it from spreading. More importantly, you ought to dry out damaged areas as best you can.
One of the most common causes of water damage is a burst or a leaky pipe. Blocked drains and toilets can create strong pressure on the pipes. As such, the pressure could lead to a full-fledged burst or leakiness.
In addition, garbage disposals could make the pipes burst, not to mention that rust is their well-known enemy too. So, a word to the wise — you should regularly maintain your pipes and replace the old ones.
Any sort of plumbing issues could cause water to get trapped inside the walls and cause you a major headache. However, you also need to make sure that you’ve properly attached the pipe joints because they can also lead to water bursts in the house.
Household appliances could also lead to water damage. Parts of certain devices deteriorate over time, so it is important to keep them in top-notch condition, as it’s not uncommon for them to lead to water damage later on. You should especially pay attention to your refrigerator, dishwasher, and washing machine because these are the most common culprits behind water leaks.
Ventilating, heating, and air conditioning units
If you don’t maintain the ventilating, heating or the air conditioning units in your house regularly, you risk damaging your walls. Units that don’t work properly could cause the build-up of moisture. When that moisture cools, you will be left with damaged walls and even mold.
Natural disasters could be the reason for extensive water damage as well. However, we obviously can’t control them. What we can do, though, is figure out how to deal with them. The best thing to do in these situations is to call water damage experts and follow their instructions.
Signs of Water Damage in Walls
In some cases, water damage to your home will be visible. After floods, pipe bursts or similar events, you can expect that damage and be prepared to act.
On the other hand, slow leaks inside your walls are much harder to detect. So, you need to look for a few telltale signs in order to prevent massive damage.
The musty smell
If your walls reek of wet cardboard smell, you probably have a problem with dampness. But alas, the smell alone isn’t enough to be sure that there is water inside the walls. Thus, you should check if there are any other signs of water damage.
Darker spots on walls
In case some parts of the wall contain moisture, they will look darker than others. If you notice that the color of your walls is not even, you should check if your wall is wet. A wet wall is a clear sign that there is moisture trapped inside of it.
Mold isn’t the obvious signal that there is a water leak, but it can be a warning. If you find mold in rooms that are not exposed to moisture, unlike bathroom, laundry room or kitchen, it’s possible the water inside the walls has led to it.
Paint and wallpaper peeling
Water leaks loosen the glue that holds wallpaper, and they can also peel off the paint from walls. In addition, when the paint or the wallpaper comes in contact with water, some bubbles might form. So, if you see bubbled wallpaper or paint on walls, you should inspect it thoroughly.
Water damage is powerful enough to weaken drywall, which could cause it to sag or crumble. A large amount of water can also break down drywall, so you should act as quickly as you can.
Use a moisture meter to measure the dampness
If you notice some of the things from this list, you should use a moisture meter to make sure that water has damaged your walls. Before you start measuring, you should turn off your appliances and faucets. In addition, don’t forget to turn off the water for a couple of hours. The moisture meter will eliminate any doubt and show if you’re dealing with water damage.
How to Dry Out a Wall After Water Damage
When you’re dealing with water damage, it is crucial to act as fast as you can in order to prevent any additional harm to your wall. Therefore, don’t waste any time and follow these steps in order to dry out your wall efficiently:
1. Find the source of leaking water
It is important to prevent water from spreading before you start drying out your wall. The first step is to find the source of leaking water. When you find the source of your problem, you should immediately fix the leak or call a professional to help you out.
If there is an extensive leakage, like a burst pipe, the best thing to do is to turn off the main water supply line. Still, if a flood or another natural disaster is the cause of your issue, you should wait for it to completely pass before you begin.
2. If necessary, remove everything from the room
You should put away paintings and posters if you have them on your wall in order to speed up the process of drying. In addition, check your carpet and padding. If those have been affected as well, you should remove both and dry them out separately.
3. Remove wall insulation and molding
If you’re dealing with extensive water damage, it might be best to remove wall insulation, molding, and baseboards from the wall. Removing them will ensure that there isn’t any moisture trapped inside.
Remember to completely dry out the insulation, baseboards, and molding before you put them back on the wall. In case they are soaking wet, consider replacing them because they might become musty.
In addition, remove the wallpaper if your walls have them. Wallpaper can also hold water, so it is necessary to scrape it off. You can use removal solutions such as WP Chomp World’s Best Wallpaper Stripper to dissolve the glue.
4. Extract the remaining water
In order to prevent unpleasant odor and mold on the wall, you should quickly soak up the excess water. You can just use a bucket and a towel for this part. However, using these tools will take up much of your time.
In order to remove the excess water efficiently, consider buying or renting a pump. You should look for a submersible pump such as Multiquip ST2040T Electric Submersible Trash Pump with Single Phase Motor.
5. Vacuum your walls
If you own a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, you can not only use it on floors but also on the walls and ceilings. You should go over every part multiple times to make sure there’s no water left.
6. Inspect the damage
Examine the wall to see if anything is damaged beyond repair. If the drywall is sagging or crumbling, you should remove it. The same goes for flooring, ceiling, cabinets, and wall studs. You should replace everything that can’t be dried out.
7. Dry out the wall
Before you start drying out your wall, you should ventilate the whole room. Open your doors and windows and turn on an air conditioner if you have one.
For drying out your wall, you can use any fan you have within reach. However, high-volume fans and dehumidifiers will give you the most efficient results. You can even rent those at home improvement centers and save some money.
If your walls are covered with vinyl or enamel paint, you should drill holes in the wall in order to help the air flow better and speed up drying. It is important that you make sure that your room stays ventilated while you’re drying out the wall.
8. Sanitize the area
You can use a chemical sanitizer to clean the area and avoid the unpleasant smell and mold. In most cases, the sanitizer is enough to prevent the musty odor. However, if there is an extensive smell, you should consider using an ozone generator.
When using ozone machines, you need to thoroughly follow the device’s manual. A lot of ozone machines will require you to vacate the area for a couple of hours, so you should keep that in mind when planning your drying process.
I recommend using OdorStop Professional Grade Ozone Generator. It has positive reviews and will help you to efficiently remove any unwanted smells. You can also check out other great generators such as Airthereal Commercial Generator 5000mg/h Ozone Machine and A2Z Ozone Aqua-6 Multi-Purpose Ozone Generator.
9. Repair the wall
The next step consists of reattaching or replacing everything that you removed from the wall. You should replace wall studs, cabinets, and drywall if you weren’t able to dry them out.
If there isn’t much damage done to the drywall, you can try to repair it yourself. All you need to use is joint compound and drywall tape.
The last step is to give your wall a fresh look by repainting it or putting the wallpaper on. I recommend that you repaint the whole wall even if only part of it was damaged. That way, you’ll ensure that the color is even.
If you’re struggling with this step, I have an article on what tools you need to paint a room that could help you.
Know When to Call an Expert
If drying out the walls calls for extensive work, it is best to leave that job to a professional. You should thoroughly estimate the extent of the water damage and think about how capable you are of fixing it. If you don’t do your job correctly, you risk causing serious damage in the future and possible health issues. In some cases, calling an expert is necessary.
You absolutely have to call an expert if you aren’t sure what the cause of the water leak is. Successful removal of the source will prevent additional damage to your home.
Another thing you probably won’t be able to deal with on your own is black mold. Black mold is toxic and causes serious health issues, so it is vital to call someone who has experience in eliminating this type of mold.
Also, in case your wall has been wet for days, it will need serious repairing. As such, it’s best to leave that to professionals because the wall’s structure could be compromised. The ceiling could collapse due to extensive water damage.
More on Drying Out Walls
Water can cause serious damage to a wall if you don’t dry it out properly. However, apart from drying it, you should also find the cause of the leak and repair it in order to prevent additional moisture from seeping in.
By following these ten simple steps, you will make sure that your damaged wall is properly prepared for drying. Then, you can dry it out by using a fan or a dehumidifier. After that, all you have to do is clean the area, repair the damage and repaint the wall.
Hopefully, my guide has helped you to dry out your walls efficiently. Enjoy your leak-free home and be sure to come back for more useful tips!