Drywall 101

Water Damage Cleanup

Flood damage can be difficult to deal with. Besides the physical damage done to a home and loss of valuables, dealing with the aftermath can cause much emotional strain. What can you do to mitigate the damage to your home, and work toward restoring normality? The following suggestions can help you plan the cleanup process.

Dry it out within 48 hours

A key to getting control of flood damage is to dry out everything thoroughly within 48 hours. Mold begins to grow between 48 to 72 hours of the initial flood damage. Mold spores are everywhere around us in the air. In small levels they pose no threat to humans. However, once mold spores come into contact with water, and have a surface upon which to breed, drywall paper for example, they can quickly multiply to numbers that can cause serious health concerns to humans. Black mold in a home is difficult and very expensive to remediate. As devastating as it is to deal with repairing flood damaged homes, preventing black mold growth is vital if you are to avoid costly repairs. How do you ensure the walls and everything behind them is completely dry?

All water soaked building material; drywall, insulation etc should be removed as soon as possible. These materials should not be reused once dried. Fans should be placed throughout the affected area to increase air flow and dry out any wooden studs or structural elements of the home. Moisture meters can be used to determine the level of residual moisture in any material you are attempting to dry. All wooden studs or subfloor should be completely dry within 48 hours in order to prevent black mold growth.

How to remove water soaked drywall

The first step is to remove all water soaked furniture and building materials from the home. Carpet and padding should be removed to allow the sub-floor to breath. All water soaked drywall should be removed if it has become soft or flexible. If the level of water that entered a home is minimal, under 1 foot, it may be possible to leave in tack the upper portions of drywall on the walls.

Remember, water wicks upwards, therefore if the water level was only 1 or 2 inches on the walls, the damage probably extends 2 or three feet up the walls. Even if the drywall seems dry only a few inches up from the level of water, the insulation in the walls may be soaked much further up. In many instances, it is recommended to remove the lower 2 to 4 feet of wall area in order to completely expose the surfaces behind. This will allow proper air flow to ensure thorough drying.

What is the best way to remove drywall when doing flood restoration? Measure up from the floor to a decided upon height. Make a mark at this height at various areas along the affected walls. Using a chalk line, connect the marks on the wall to create a straight line at the decided upon height. Using a utility knife, score through the surface of the drywall all along this chalk line, cutting one half or three quarters of the way through the thickness of the drywall. Using a hammer, carefully knock a small hole in the drywall below this line. Using the hole in the drywall as a handle, gently pull the drywall back and forth to loosen it from the studs behind.

Continue to remove all drywall below the freshly cut line. Once all drywall is removed, completely remove any damp insulation. It is easy to be fooled by the moisture content of insulation. It may seem only slightly damp when in actuality it should be removed. If in doubt, remove insulation. It is one of the least expensive things to replace in comparison.

Always remember, when doing any type of demolition work, including that described above, it is important to wear proper personal protective equipment, which include gloves, safety glasses, hard soled footwear and hard hats. Remember to turn off all electrical circuits in the area that you will be removing drywall. It is good to consult with an electrician in any cases of flood damage since water and electricity can cause potentially serious dangers.