The Problems with Having Wet Drywall in Your Basement
If your basement is partitioned with drywall, dampness, leaks, and flooding can cause a huge amount of damage. Drywall is not as durable as concrete, stone, or wood, so dampness can cause real damage and trouble for you and your home. If it becomes saturated, drywall loses its structural integrity, it can warp, bend, bulge, and become infested with mold or bugs.
What You Need to Know About Drywall
Many modern homes make use of drywall in both walls and ceilings, but there are some pros and cons to consider, especially if you are renovating your home or adding an extension. For those not in the know, drywall panels are made by sandwiching a core of wet gypsum plaster between either heavy paper or fiberglass surface sheets. These panels are then hardened via the application of heat. The result is a building material which is lighter than stone, wood, or concrete, but still fairly durable. While it’s not as strong as the aforementioned materials, adding plaster to the drywall surface can make it tougher.
The Pros of Drywall
- Quick, easy, and cheap to manufacture
- Quick installation
- Fire-resistant thanks to the core of gypsum
- Easy to remove and alter
The Cons of Drywall
- Not water-resistant
- Prone to damage unless the surface is plastered
- Installation can be messy
- Over time, joints between panels can begin to show
Of course, if you already have drywall in your home, there’s very little you can do other than do your best to ensure it doesn’t become damaged or wet.
What Causes Wet Drywall?
The trite answer would be that flooding and leaks are the cause of wet drywall in a home, but it really is more complicated than that. There are many potential causes of dampness, leaks, and standing water in your home, and any of these can cause the drywall in your home to become wet. The most common causes of saturated drywall in a home are as follows.
- External Leaks and Flooding
If the external walls of your home are damaged or there is excessive flooding in your area, it is likely that moisture will get into your home. If this happens, it is almost certain that the drywall in your home will become wet. If you have plastered your drywall, it should be slightly more resistant to small amounts of dampness, but serious indoor flooding will result in saturated drywall.
- Internal Leaks
Leaks inside your home, even small ones, are far more likely to cause huge damage to drywall, especially if the leak stems from pipes inside the walls.
If your external walls have any cracks, whether big or small, this is sure to let in water and act as a hotspot for dampness in your home. Even hairline cracks can become a real problem when left to grow over time. This can be an especially big problem in a basement. If you notice any seepage in your basement, it is likely that you have cracks in your walls or foundations.
When the relative humidity in your home reaches 100%, the moisture has to go somewhere. Outside, the result would be rain, but when the humidity is indoors, it turns to condensation, usually on cool surfaces. This level of moisture can cause problems on its own, but when it also seeps into cracks in drywall, the problems can escalate.
The Dangers of Wet Drywall
The dangers of dampness and flooding inside a home remain fairly consistent no matter how the water gets in. However, there are some unique dangers that come with having wet drywall in your home, too. The most pressing dangers are as follows.
- Mold Formation
Wherever organic matter and moisture come together for long periods of time, mold is sure to form. Mold is not only unpleasant, but it can be harmful to your health as well. Certain forms of mold, such as black mold, can be incredibly damaging to your respiratory system.
- Insect Infestation
Insects like cockroaches, mold mites, and termites are more likely to take up residence in damaged, damp, or mold-ridden drywall. Once they do, they can quickly spread to other areas of your home, and they are incredibly hard to get rid of.
- Foul Odors
Mold and dampness have unpleasant smells anyway, but wet drywall has a bad smell of its own, especially if it contains fiberglass. Wet fiberglass has a smell like rotten eggs. Slightly sulfuric and incredibly potent, it can sour the smell of a whole home.
- Structural Instability
Above and beyond all of the other problems wet drywall can cause in your home, it also poses a risk to the structural integrity of your home. Wet drywall can easily warp, crumble, or sag. If drywall becomes wet enough or it is not dried out quickly, it will need replacing.
Why You Shouldn’t Deal with Wet Drywall Yourself
There are some problems you can fix yourself. Leaks generally require some professional input, but wet drywall needs an expert opinion unless you are willing to risk serious and escalating issues in the long run. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t try to deal with wet drywall yourself.
- It’s Hard to Find the Source
The problem with dampness in your basement, or any part of your home, is that the source is not always located where the damage is most evident. The source of standing water in your basement could well be a leak on the top floor of your home. Likewise, the wet drywall in your living room could have been caused by a leak in the basement. It’s important that you let a professional assess your home; they will be able to find and fix the source of the water.
- You Might Only Fix Part of the Problem
If you do identify and repair an issue, you could still end up facing problems down the road if you fail to fix every part of the problem. Whether you manage to identify and fix only the largest leak, or you fix all of the leaks but fail to notice a growing problem with mold, fixing only part of the problem could lead to you facing more costly repairs in the future.
- You Could Make the Problem Worse
They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and this is definitely true of DIY repairs. If you attempt to fix a problem you don’t fully understand, it is possible that you could unknowingly cause more damage. This could either lead to the exacerbation of the existing problem or the creation of a whole new problem. Either way, you could end up facing more damage to your home.
FAQs About Wet Drywall
There are many potential causes of wet drywall, but it all comes down to this: There must be a source of moisture in your home. The bigger the leak, the more standing water there is, and the more likely it is that you will find wet drywall in your home.
The most obvious risk is that the walls in question will crumble or otherwise degrade. Other than this, the formation of mold, rising dampness, and other spreading problems (for example insect infestation) can be problematic.
You may be capable of fixing the leaks you can find, but it is always better to contact a professional so they can perform a full assessment of your home. If the problem is only partially fixed, or if you address the source of the damp but not the damage it has caused, you will undoubtedly find that your home needs further attention in the future.
If the dampness is found and addressed quickly, you may be able to save the affected drywall. In this case, it may need treatment to prevent mold formation or insect infestation, but the structural integrity should be retained. If the wall has been damp for some time, however, it is likely you will need to replace it. If the walls in question sag, buckle, or bend under pressure, it is likely that you will need to replace the wall. You should ask an expert for their opinion on the health of the affected drywall.
Let the Experts Deal with Your Wet Drywall
The easiest and most certain way to deal with wet drywall efficiently is to call in professionals. Groundworks waterproofing experts will know how to identify and fix a huge range of problems. You can even ask for a general inspection if you’re worried about leaks within your home or basement that may be damaging your floors and walls.