Water damage in your walls can be hard to catch at first if you are not paying attention. If you see discoloration on your walls, bubbling paint, or softened drywall you are dealing with water damage.
Not dealing with water damage in your walls right away can cause serious problems such as mold growth and structural damage to your home.
It is important to find and solve the problem immediately to keep you and your home healthy and safe.
Signs of Water Damage in Walls
Oftentimes, the discoloration caused by water damage in walls leaves streaked stains on the walls in various lengths.
You may notice the discoloration first, but it is usually accompanied by other signs of water damage as well.
Bubbling happens because of the water that has come through the drywall and is now making the paint wet.
The paint bubbles hold the water back, but will leak if left too long or if popped.
If you pop the bubbles, make sure you are prepared to clean up any resulting mess to prevent any further issues.
This sign of water damage in your wall might be the trickiest one to notice since it is not likely that you sit and feel your walls regularly.
When softened, the front side of your wall may look perfectly normal but the drywall behind is weakening and when left untreated, is the perfect condition to start growing mold.
Most Common Causes of Water Damaged Walls
Water Damage On Walls
When your ceiling or attic has not been properly sealed, inclement weather can cause moisture to seep onto your wall and cause damage.
The visible signs of this type of damage are similar to those of damage inside walls, but can be caught much earlier.
Not all of the pipes in our homes are inside the walls. If, for example, your kitchen sink or water heater pipe bursts, you will likely notice right away.
Hidden Water Damage Inside Walls
Unfortunately not all burst pipes are easy to spot. A burst pipe inside your wall and cause water damage to happen quickly if the water line is not turned off and the leak continues.
Corrosion, frozen water, high pressure, and a shift in soil or foundation are common causes of a burst pipe in your walls.
A sewage backup would cause an issue with your plumbing and cause a burst pipe or leak to start in your walls.
A serious rain or wind storm can cause water damage in your walls.
Any amount of water that collects between the walls can cause damage to drywall or electrical wiring.
Common Places of Water Damage
It should be no surprise that the bathroom is a very common place for water damage in the wall to occur.
Your sink, toilet, and shower have a lot of pipes in the walls that are at risk to cause a leak.
The difference between water damage in your bathroom versus other rooms of your house is that your bathroom likely has tile in it.
If the damage is behind the tile in your bathroom, it would be smart to involve a professional, as replacing tile is no task for the lighthearted.
Due to gravity, the basement is another common area for water damage to occur in your walls.
When the water from an issue above travels down the walls, it can collect in the basement.
Also, many basements contain the home water heater and other important plumbing pipes.
Basements are prone to flooding, which can cause water damage inside and outside of your walls.
Keeping an eye on this area is important in preventing major damage in case of water damage in your walls.
How to Repair Water Damage in Walls
Finding the Cause
Water damage in your walls can occur from a bad storm, leaking pipes, or other broken fixture. Look for appliances near the damage or other possible causes.
Knowing where the water is coming from is the only way to prevent further and future damage to your walls.
Drying Out the Wall
Letting the damaged wall dry is a key step in a successful repair. Depending on your home and the outside weather conditions, this can generally take anywhere from two to five days.
Opening doors and windows can help if the outside air is dry.
If you have a substantial amount of water, it might be worth investing in a wet/dry vacuum to suck out the water.
A dehumidifier in the room with the damaged wall can help remove moisture from the air and let the drywall dry. Be sure to keep an eye on the moisture level of the dehumidifier to help it does its job most efficiently.
Your local hardware store likely has industrial fans, dehumidifiers, and even wet/dry vacs to rent if you do not want to spend the money on buying these items.
Repairing the Wall
Before considering repairing the damage yourself, be absolutely sure there is no electrical damage. This can be dangerous or even deadly if not dealt with properly.
If Your Wall is Only Stained
If you’re lucky to only have a stain from the water damage with no consequence to your drywall, you just need:
Stain Blocking Primer
First, clean the wall with your sponge and dish detergent then rinse.
Make sure the area is entirely dry before proceeding.
Next, coat the stained area with a stain blocking primer.
Let the primer dry completely.
Lastly, paint the area to match the rest of your wall.
If You Need to Replace Drywall
You will need:
- A Sponge
- Drywalls Screws
- Drywall Mud
- Drywall Tape
- Putty knife
- Paint Brush
- Stain Blocking Primer
When replacing drywall, it is important to first make sure the entire area is completely dry.
If your drywall is damaged enough to need replacing, it is smart to go ahead and remove the damaged drywall while it is still damp prior to allowing dry time.
Try to make your removal cuts as straight as possible to help make the replacement process easy.
Once the damaged area is completely dry, put a mixture of half bleach and half water on a bucket.
- Use your sponge to disinfect the area of any potential mold growth.
- Allow the space to dry.
- Cut your new drywall to be just slightly smaller than the damaged area.
- Use the drywall screws to secure it in place. Make sure you screw it into the studs.
- Use the putty knife to put drywall mud around the edges of the new drywall piece to connect it with the rest of the wall.
- Place drywall tape over the mud seam.
- Allow to dry.
- Sand the mud.
- Apply more drywall mud and tape over the area to ensure the new drywall piece is secured.
- Allow to dry.
- Sand the mud.
- Wipe away any drywall dust.
- Apply the stain blocking primer.
- Once dry, paint the area to match the rest of the wall.
How Long Does it Take to Dry Out Walls from Water Damage?
Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from two to five days for your walls to completely dry from water damage.
However, if you let the problem go unresolved or if you are dealing with a natural disaster, it may take weeks for complete dryness to occur.
Mold in Walls from Water Damage
Mold can grow very quickly due to the ideal conditions of moisture and cooler temps found between walls.
This problem can get out of control if not dealt with promptly.
Once your walls are dry, cleaning away the mold is an important step before rendering any repairs.
How Much Does it Cost to Repair A Water Damaged Wall?
Depending on the size of the damaged portion of your wall, repairing a water damaged wall yourself can cost anywhere from $150-$600.
Each tool needed to fix the water damaged wall is important, so if you already have some of the tools, it will obviously cost you less out of pocket.
Additionally, equipment rentals for industrial fans or dehumidifiers can cost between $30-$300 depending on length of time you need it and if you want to buy it in the end.
This is not including any tools or equipment needed to repair the cause of said damage.
If you hire a professional, they will handle the drying, cleaning and repair. This can cost anywhere from $200-$3,000.
Of course the size of repair plays a huge role in cost. An 8”x12” repair is not going to cost nearly as much as a 6’x9’ repair, especially when factoring in labor costs of a professional.
When to call a Professional
If you suspect there has been any electrical damage, it is safest and smartest to call a professional with the proper knowledge and tools to render a repair.
You can call a plumber to fix leaks or burst pipes. Water pipes are not something to play around with so if you are unsure, it would be best to allow a professional to help.
However, a general contractor would be the best to call to help with drywall repair if you need assistance with that type of repair.