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What Happens To Your Drywall After A Flood?

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There's a lot to deal with following a flood, even if the water levels in your home were relatively minor. Most of the initial process will involve cleaning up the water, drying everything out, and removing items to evaluate, restore, or discard. This process can take a lot of time, and it's natural to be concerned about your possessions, but the damage to your home is also a major concern. 

Flooding events can affect nearly every part of your home, from the floors to the walls to the underlying structural elements. Since drywall is relatively cheap, most people don't think much about it. However, tearing down and replacing every bit of drywall in your home can quickly become cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, you probably won't need to tear your entire home down to the studs after a flood.

How Does Water Affect Drywall?

Most homes use gypsum panel drywall. These boards consist of a mineral core with outer layers of paper. Water that reaches your drywall will affect each part of the board differently. Since the paper layers contain organic material, they can become soggy, rot, and, eventually, host significant mold colonies.

The inner gypsum material is slightly more resistant to water damage, but only slightly. Small amounts of moisture will typically dry out without having a major impact on the drywall, but larger amounts of water will ruin it. When the gypsum core becomes too saturated, it will lose its cohesiveness and begin to crumble, even after drying out completely.

Another concern arises from the source of the water. Flooding from a category one leak (such as a clean water supply pipe) doesn't pose any additional risks beyond the water damage. However, sewage leaks or floodwaters contain harmful pathogens. These water sources are known as category three, and exposed materials should always be removed and discarded.

What Will Happen to Your Drywall?

The correct approach for your drywall will depend on the severity of the flooding, the source of the water, and how quickly you acted. For relatively minor flooding, it's often possible to cut out the lower several feet of a drywall panel. This approach allows restoration experts to inspect and replace insulation or equipment behind the wall while only removing the affected portion of the panel.

However, more severe flooding may require more drastic action. Long-term flooding or a wall that remains damp for too long can become soaked due to capillary action. Even if only the lower portion of the wall directly interacted with water, it may have ruined the whole panel. Likewise, contact with category three water may require more drastic action.

Ultimately, a water restoration expert must evaluate your drywall and help you determine the best course of action. Relying on an expert opinion will help you restore your home in a way that is both cost-effective and most likely to prevent long-term moisture and mold issues.

Contact a local water damage service, such as Disaster Masters, to learn more.