Homeowners usually recognize the urgent need to remove flood water from carpeting or flooring, but they often fail to grasp the seriousness of saturated drywall. Even if the water level only reaches a couple of inches, the drywall will absorb water and begin wicking it up the side of the wall. Within a matter of days, water can be pulled several feet up a wall and turn a minor flood into a disaster for homeowners. Wet drywall becomes a host site for invasive mold growth and also loses much of its structural strength. That's why you should take quick action if your home has experienced localized flooding. Below is what you need to know about drying out your drywall to prevent the need for expensive and frustrating repairs:
Tools and materials needed
Handheld moisture meter with sensor pins
Commercial-quality dehumidifier capable of removing 20 or more gallons of water per day
Dehumidifier drain hose
Carpet blowers (two or more preferred)
Two-kilowatt electric heater
1. Evaluate the degree of saturation - The first step in drying out drywall is is to determine the extent of the moisture encroachment. This process will enable you to accurately map out where your drywall is saturated and help you measure your progress.
Using a handheld moisture meter equipped with sensor pins, begin evaluating the moisture content at a height of 1-foot above ground level. Press the pins into the drywall at intervals of about 3 feet apart and note the readings; anything above 15 percent a is indicative of excessive moisture content. Mark each location with readings above 15 percent with a brightly-colored push-pin. Continue around the perimeter of the affected area until you return to the starting point.
Next, repeat the moisture evaluation process above but at a height of 2 feet, 3 feet and every foot above ground level. Be sure to mark each location above 15 percent with push pins. Continue taking readings until you reach a height level with no moisture content measurements above 15 percent.
2. Prepare the equipment - If the area of saturation is confined to one room within your home, then you should place all drying equipment in that particular room. However, for more widespread areas of damage, you will need to spread out the equipment to effectively reach a larger space.
The first step is to centrally locate your dehumidifier unit. The dehumidifier should be placed as close to possible near the center of the area to be dried, and it should also be equipped to drain water via a hose to a convenient plumbing fixture or exterior location.
Next, position carpet blowers in locations close to drywall and aim the blower vents directly toward the drywall. You need to move as much air as possible to provide fast evaporation of the moisture, so use as many blower units as you can afford.
Finally, position the electric heater in a location away from direct air currents to prevent cooling of the unit. As with the blowers, warm air will hasten the drying process in proportion to the amount of heat applied, so use more heaters if possible. Just be sure that all extension cords are constructed from wire no less than 12 gauge in size and are able to handle significant power loads.
3. Begin the drying process - As soon as you have placed all equipment, the next step is to begin drying. Turn on all devices and seal the home or space affected to prevent exterior air intrusion. Operate all equipment for 24 hours, and do not allow anyone to occupy the home during this time period.
At the end of the 24 hour period, use the meter to re-check moisture levels at the push-pin marked locations. If the moisture level has dropped below 15 percent at any point measured, then remove the push pin. Continue checking all affected locations.
4. Continue drying the drywall - After measuring to determine if you are making progress, the next step is to continue drying operations as explained above. Continue drying and checking every 24 hours to determine if the moisture levels have dropped and mark your progress by removing push pins.
Once you have removed all the pins, you can feel assured that you have removed all problematic moisture from your drywall. If the level is dropping slowly, then move your equipment to a location closer to the higher moisture content-saturated zones. Once you have stabilized an area, then you can move equipment to another critical location or re-centralize it for continued operation.
If you have specific questions about flood restoration, contact a company like Central Flood Management Inc to learn more about the process of negating water damage.