Most homeowners don’t realize the damage water can cause. It can destroy the structural integrity of a home, flooring, appliances. furniture, and walls. Water can seep into hidden areas and result in costly repairs if not handled immediately.
Reducing the risk of structural damage involves drying out walls quickly. Water will be present on the inside of and behind the wall, even though it you cannot see signs of moisture.
How Walls Become Saturated with Water
Water that flows into a room from the ground level will cover the floor first. The porous materials that make up a wall causes the water to move or wick up the wall. The dampness spreads behind trim, baseboards and saturates insulation. The rate of water movement depends on the amount of water and how the wall was constructed.
Typical causes of water damage include:
- Leaky or broken pipes
- Water heater malfunction
- Heavy rainwater
- Malfunctioning dishwasher or washing machine
- Leaky roof
Types of Water
Know the type of water you’re dealing with. There are three categories of water differentiated by their potential health risks.
- Category 1: Clean water that poses no immediate health risk
- Category 2: Greywater that contains chemical, biological, or physical contaminants that pose a slight health risk
- Category 3: Black water is grossly unsanitary and likely to cause significant health risks
If left unattended, clean water will become greywater, and greywater will turn into black water. That’s why it’s important to begin water damage cleanup as quickly as possible.
How to Dry Out Walls
Most of the moisture from water damage is hidden within the walls. Walls covered with vinyl wallpaper or high-gloss enamel take longer to dry. Sometimes it is necessary to drill holes into the wall to allow air to flow into the spaces between the wall studs.
Take pictures of all damage to help with insurance claims. Moisture meters can be used to assess structural integrity.
Before attempting to dry out walls yourself, safety should always be your top priority. If the situation seems at all hazardous, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. If you are sure it’s safe to proceed, following these steps.
1. Fix Leaks
Turn off the water source. Make temporary repairs in areas where water can intrude, like the roof or a broken pipe. You may need the help of a professional plumber if the issues are beyond your level of expertise.
2. Remove Items
Remove all water-damaged items from the affected space. If dirty water has soaked rugs or furniture, they should be thrown away to avoid harmful contaminants. Pull up flooring like vinyl or carpet to allow the sub-floors to dry. Don’t forget to remove baseboards and trim to speed up the drying process.
If there is insulation behind the walls, remove and discard it. Insulation is extremely absorbent. It will hold the water against the wallboards, and thus causes structural damage if not removed.
3. Allow Sufficient Drying Time
For small damp spots, a fan at its highest setting will help clear out moist air and dry the small areas of the wall. For larger areas of moisture, rent a professional dehumidifier. Seal the windows and doorways to make the room airtight. Run the dehumidifier and regularly check the moisture levels with a moisture meter.
If your walls contain any built-in cabinets, open the doors and slide out the drawers. The cabinet will dry faster with increased air circulation.
If the area contains black water damage, you should call professional water damage restoration specialists to properly remove the water and dry out the area.
When your walls are completely dry you can then repair and repaint them.
Water damage to your home presents the potential growth of mold. If moisture is not addressed quickly, it can spread throughout your home. Fast-growing microbial colonies multiply quickly by releasing airborne spores. Moist areas provide the perfect breeding ground for mold spores. Mold appears after water damage because of the high level of moisture.
When the furniture and other materials absorb the water, mold will begin to grow on them. Mold can then spread throughout your home within a matter of hours via air ducts or doorways.
Clean all walls, hard-surface floors and other household surfaces with soap and water.
After cleaning and drying, continue to be sensitive to musty odors, which could be caused by mold growth.
Need an Immediate Response?
If the situation is more than you can handle, call the professionals at St. Louis Cleaning and Restoration. Our certified technicians will assess the damage and quickly begin cleanup. We’re available 24/7 for emergency response.
Contact us today for a free consultation.