How to Dry & Repair Water Damaged Wet Ceiling Drywall

Not sure What do you need to do to fix wet ceiling drywall?

Is it possible to dry out Water Damaged Ceiling Drywall and repair it without needing to replace it completely?

In this guide you will learn:

  • Common Causes of Wet Ceiling Drywall,
  • Best Methods & How to Dry Wet Drywall Ceiling,
  • How To Repair Water Damaged Ceilings & Prevent Further Damage.

What Happens When Ceiling Drywall Gets Wet?

When dry, drywall is a fantastic building material, when it’s wet it’s worse than useless.

Water damage can occur very rapidly to all forms of drywall and when it does the implications can be devastating, but when it occurs to ceilings the implications can be the most serious.

Fortunately, there some straightforward and easy things you can do and if they don’t work specialist help is easy to find.

Drywall is composed of gypsum (plaster), paper and binders.

So long as these materials are dry, they form a robust, firm, insulating, noise reducing, fire retardant, multifaceted and economical construction material.

If your ceiling drywall becomes wet the paper bubbles and peels, the gypsum wanes and the binders stimulate mold development. This all happens because paper and gypsum absorb water.

As soon as water has permeated into the drywall it expands as it soaks up the extra water. The results in unattractive bubbling of your ceiling and peeling of the paper but of greatest concern is the reduction in strength of the gypsum. It starts to turn to sludge.

The paper and some of the binders are energy sources for mold, once drywall in your ceiling is wet a cluster of potentially toxic mold can permanently take hold of your ceiling!

Weighed down by water and impaired ceiling drywall will begin to droop and can ultimately fall in, possibly instigating destruction to other structures and things.

If things are really bad wet ceiling drywall can result in the flattening of the whole building.

Common Causes of Wet Ceilings

Wet ceiling drywall is most commonly caused by faulty plumbing or a leak in the roof. But it can be caused by any of these;

  • Leaking pipes
  • Burst pipes
  • Sweating Pipes
  • Missing or broken roof tiles
  • High humidity
  • Condensation
  • Flooding
  • Standing Water
  • Puddles
  • Clogged Gutters
  • Ice dam (ice build-up on the roof)

Water Damaged Ceilings?

Call 844-994-1288 for a Risk Free estimate from a Licensed Water Damage Restoration Specialist in your area.

We Can Help Dry out & Repair/Replace your Drywall Ceiling as well as Repair Any water Damage Caused.

Does Wet Ceiling Drywall Need to Be Replaced

No, wet ceiling drywall not always needs to be replaced. If you get to work straightaway and make the right moves wet ceiling drywall can usually be rescued.

If you are able to stop the source of water very quickly or before a lot of water has been involved, you may even be able to rectify the damage yourself.

Once the water has started seeping deeper into the material, there’s still a good chance it can be saved. However this will require some fairly extreme interventions, and getting industrial dehumidifiers.

If the ceiling drywall no longer has it’s strength, i.e. as soon as it is swollen, dipping or sagging, then it will require to be replaced.

This also applies if mold seems to have taken hold.

However, if the ceiling drywall has merely been in short contact with water, it is normally viable to repair.

Another option might be to remove and replace a segment of damage ceiling drywall and conserve the rest.

Will a Wet Ceiling Dry Out on Its Own?

Not normally.

Even minor leakages or spillages can gain from taking action.

Once water has soaked into the drywall in your ceiling, that’s it, it’s not going to resolve itself.

If it’s only the outer layer that is moist, and the drywall is in a well-ventilated space the drywall ceiling might dry out on its own, however, in most cases it will require to be re-paint as it will leave stains.

But if you live in a chilly, wet weather environment or the drywall is badly ventilated, action needs to be carried out.

Determining When Can Wet Drywall Ceiling Be Saved

Determining if the drywall in the ceiling can be salvaged is not straightforward to do yourself.

Undoubtedly, if it is slumping, soft, soggy, or substantially moldy, the safest course of action will be replacement.

The reason it is so tricky to tell for yourself is because the true damage occurs deep inside the material. Potentially poisonous mold spores can delve right down within and without a moisture meter you can’t tell for sure what the condition is.

If you’re at all worried make contact with a water damage restoration specialist.

How to Dry Wet Drywall Ceiling

First, Stop the source of the water.

This might be as simple as clearing your roof or tightening a bolt. It may require replacing your tiles or turning your water supply off.

In some cases it will mean getting professional help.

  1. Drain any standing water from above the ceiling.
  2. If the ceiling drywall is bulging, place a bucket underneath that section and carefully stab a screwdriver through it.
  3. Use towels to dry down your ceiling. You can also use sandpaper to rub away the wet outer layer.  
  4. Dry the walls, floor and any fixtures, fittings and furniture in the room.
  5. Remove or cutout any sections of ceiling drywall that are particularly wet and have deformed. Remove the materials to the nearest joist.
  6. Crank up the heat; if you have radiators or central heating, set them to max. If you don’t have built in heating (and even if you do) introduce portable heaters or radiators.
  7. Ventilate the room, open doors and windows wide, introduce fans to circulate the air. If you have one, you can use a dehumidifier. You can also spread a desiccant in trays, to help draw out moisture from your drywall ceiling.
  8. Remove any furniture and carpets in the room, they could be damp or they could be restricting air flow. Take down any objects attached to or hanging from the wall, including pictures, mirrors and shelving.
  9. Remove any moldings from your ceiling. This allows for more air flow and will encourage evaporation.
  10. Remove all insulation if you have access to it, even if it is dry, as this will also help with airflow.
  11. Cut some holes in the drywall ceiling to allow air movement. Only do this if the water damage is potentially extensive, keep the width of holes around the size of a quarter.
  12. Blow air, ideally hot air, into the joist bay (space between the drywall ceiling and the roof). You can even use a hair dryer for this.

If these steps are not proving to be enough, you’ll need to rent industrial dehumidifier(s) and industrial heater(s)/fan(s).

Sealing up the room up in plastic so it gets very hot when using a dehumidifier is also a good idea.

The heat will drive out the moisture, and will be sucked up by the dehumidifier.

This is a big undertaking, and you may wish to consider contacting a water damage specialist at this point.

How To Repair Water Damaged Ceiling Drywall

Obviously, you need to stop the source of the water and dry out the ceiling before you can begin properly repairing the damage.

Once you’re ready to undertake repairs you may find the following useful;

  • Facing/Scrim tape
  • Jointing compound
  • Spackle paste
  • Ladder
  • Pencil
  • Plaster for skimming
  • Plasterboard screws
  • Replacement plasterboard
  • Sandpaper
  • Tape measure
  • Trimming knife and/or plasterboard saw
  • Wire detector

Very small (less than half an inch), damaged areas can be fixed with joint compound.

Scrape away any soft, loose or sagging sections, and seal with jointing compound. Use sandpaper to smooth down any bumps.

If the drywall ceiling is only minimally water damaged and limited to a small area (less than 12 square inches), you can use a keyhole saw or a box cutter to cut out the damaged section.

  1. Cut out a rectangular/square section in your ceiling 2 inches wider than the damage appears to be confined to.
  2. From new drywall cut a rectangular/square shaped piece a bit bigger than the hole, so you can carefully trim it down to size.
  3. If the damage is at all widespread, you’re best removing the drywall to the joists. You should wear safety goggles and a dust mask to this.
  4. Put down old sheets or a tarp to catch the debris. Fully wet drywall in ceiling will crumble and you should be able to tear it out by hand. If the material is still structurally strong, you may be able to unscrew it from the joists.
  5. Before you start cutting use a wire detector to check for electric wires, and mark them on the ceiling with a pencil to be safe.
  6. Cut away the damaged section of plasterboard in ceiling, to the nearest joist. This will give you something to attach the new plasterboard to. Carefully poke a screwdriver through the damages bits to find the joists.
  7. Select the right thickness of drywall; ceilings usually require 5/8 Inch drywall but sometimes ½ Inch thick is used.  
  8. Cut the new plasterboard, cut it slightly too large at first and then trim it down.
  9. Replace any of the (dry) insulation you removed.
  10. Screw in the new panels using plasterboard screws.
  11. Apply a thin layer of jointing compound to the joints between the boards. And then tape over the top with scrim tape.
  12. After the joint compound has dried, reskim the ceiling with some plaster and feather it to create a clean, neat finish.
  13. Apply primer to the ceiling and allow it to dry, then paint it.

Ensure the room is well ventilated for this.

You will get a more even finish if you prime and paint the entire ceiling, and not just the bits that you’ve repaired.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair Water Damaged Ceiling?

Ceiling drywall repairs cost around $50 to $100 per square foot. For the average ceiling this will be between $300 and $1,200.  

Ceiling drywall is normally 5/8th of an inch thick (slightly thicker than for walls) and costs between $10 and $15 for a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet. The cost of labor is on average between $50 and $100 an hour.

Repairs to fix holes or cracks usually cost between $200 to $500.

Sagging or extensive damage will likely require the ceiling to be replaced, this should be about $500 to $1,500.

If water damage causes a ceiling collapse that damages other structures, the cost of repair will be several thousand dollars.

Preventing Future Damage

If you want to prevent leaks coming from your ceiling you should consider the following;

  • Clean your gutters
  • Clear your roof of debris and leaves
  • Trim trees back to prevent branches causing damager
  • Replace any broken or damaged tiles/shingles
  • Check your window seals
  • Check your pipes – leaking drains, supply lines, missing caulk, or broken pipes
  • Change the roof surface to eliminate ‘ponding’
  • Install a water softener
  • Tighten your pipe fittings
  • Seal your pipe joints
  • Insulate your pipes
  • Reduce your water pressure to below 50 PSI

When To Call a Professional

If there is an indication your ceiling has lost or is losing fundamental integrity, call a professional – failure could harm an individual and destroy the fixtures and furnishings of your house.

As well that if there is an indication of established mold development in your ceiling, which can be poisonous and very dangerous, you also should get help.

We have Water Damage Restoration Technicians that can Help Dry out your Ceiling Drywall & Repair Any water Damage Caused.

For Disasters of all Sizes,available in 95% of the USA


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