Should You Replace Drywall if It Gets Wet?
Drywall is a sturdy building material often chosen for its versatility and ease of installation. However, when drywall gets wet, it loses its structural integrity, becoming soft and weak. Depending on what category of water your drywall was exposed to and the extent of the flooding, it may be possible to save it. However, time is of the essence if you hope to avoid mold damage.
Check the Wall for Moisture
Following a plumbing leak or water penetration, it’s important to check your drywall for moisture. Here’s how:
- Test the drywall: Use a non-penetrating moisture meter to detect water near the surface of the drywall. Another method is to remove the baseboards and poke a small hole through the wall with a screwdriver. If the drywall feels soft, that means it’s wet.
- Test the interior of the wall: Use a penetrating moisture meter to detect water further inside the wall structure. You can also cut a larger hole to check for moisture on the wall studs and insulation.
What to Do if Moisture Is Present
If your moisture tests come back positive, here’s what to do:
- Dry the wall: Assess the drywall for mold. If there is none, you shouldn’t need to replace it. Instead, dry the wall with high-volume fans and a structural drying dehumidifier. Wet walls can hold onto moisture for a long time, so thorough drying is necessary to prevent future mold growth.
- Remove wet insulation: The water that damaged your drywall most likely soaked into the wood studs and insulation as well. Fiberglass and cellulose lose R-value and can harbor mold growth when they become damp. These types of insulation can’t be dried out, so you’ll need to cut open the wall and remove the wet insulation. Once the area has been thoroughly dried, replace the insulation before repairing the wall.
When to Replace Drywall
Do not attempt to save your wet drywall in either of these scenarios:
- Mold on drywall: Few health concerns are more serious than having mold growth inside your walls. Only a trained professional should handle and remove moldy materials because of the potential health hazards and the risk of spreading spores throughout the house.
- Category 2 or Category 3 water damage: Category 1 (clean water) damage poses no health risks beyond possible mold growth. However, Category 2 (greywater) and Category 3 (blackwater) introduce contaminants into your home. If the damage stemmed from wastewater, stormwater, or sewage, replace the drywall regardless of whether mold is present or not.
As a leading water damage repair company in San Diego, Pacific Flood Restoration can clean or replace your water-damaged drywall from start to finish. Our services include structural drying, personal content restoration, pack out services, deodorizing, mold removal, and final cleanup. We’ll work with your insurance company to get your home back to normal as quickly as possible. Feel free to call us 24 hours a day at 760-815-3033 or contact us online if you think your drywall is wet.