Drying Water-Damaged Walls
When water damage
occurs in a home, not only are the floors affected, but often the walls
are as well. Sometimes the damage is obvious, but in many cases it is
hidden and may be missed by those not specifically trained in water
For the restoration
professional, the first step is to determine the extent of the water
damage. Water that enters a room from ground level will cover the floor
and floor covering, and will then begin to wick up the wall (move vertically)
because of capillary action in porous materials. The extent of this
wicking will depend on the construction of the wall, the amount of the
water, and its height on the wall material.
Drywall is an absorbent
material made of a gypsum core and a cardboard-like paper on both sides.
Drywall can wick water up to thirty inches! The water will be present
on both sides of the wall and often, it is higher on the inside due
to restricted evaporation on that side of the drywall. While water damage
is sometimes visible, at other times, the wall does not show signs of
A restoration professional
has a full range of professional metering equipment to help evaluate
damage. One choice is a non-invasive moisture meter. This meter uses
radio waves to test for the presence of water without putting holes
in the wall. Another professional instrument is an infrared imaging
device or camera. Since the evaporation from wet walls makes them cooler
than dry walls, the IR camera can identify the presence of water in
walls - with no holes or other invasion of the wall material.
Once wet walls are
identified, drying equipment is used to dry them. If there is no insulation
present, the walls can usually be dried without holes and without removing
the baseboard. The restoration professional places High Capacity Air
Movers along the wall every ten to fourteen linear feet. These air movers
remove the water molecules from the surface of the wall, allowing further
evaporation (drying) to occur as quickly as possible. As the moisture
from the wall evaporates into the air, capillary action draws more moisture
to the surface where it evaporates.
professional will also install a Low Grain Refrigerant dehumidifier
in the structure - one or more as needed. This state-of-the-science
drying equipment reduces the humidity levels to facilitate drying and
help prevent the occurrence of mold.
the restoration professional will install an inner-wall drying system
by putting small holes above the sill plate and forcing air into the
wall cavity. Studies have shown that this is the best and fastest way
to dry walls with water damage.
If there is a moisture
barrier on the outside or inside the wall, the drying procedure changes.
Moisture barriers are coatings or materials that inhibit the movement
of moisture from the wall material. Most latex paints are permeable
and do not constitute a barrier. Glossy paints may create a barrier.
Enamel paint or vinyl wall coverings create a complete barrier. They
will need to be perforated or removed to allow the moisture to escape
and the walls to dry.
If there is plastic
or foil on the inside of the wall, then the wall will need to be removed
since drying will not occur properly and mold will almost certainly
develop in such situations.
Insulation in the
wall will also affect drying. If there is fiberglass insulation with
paper backing, then an inner-wall drying system can be used, as described
above. If the insulation is foil-backed fiberglass, blown-in cellulose,
or a Styrofoam material, then it cannot be dried successfully. In those
cases, removing the damaged portion of the wall along with the insulation
is necessary to allow rapid drying and to prevent the development of
Regardless of the
procedures used by the restoration professional, it is important that
the customer recognize that the equipment must operate, without stopping,
throughout the drying process.
A restoration professional
will monitor the drying system at least once each day to insure the
equipment is operating correctly and to make adjustments as needed.
Part of the daily monitoring includes moisture measurements to determine
when the materials are successfully dried. Material dryness is measured
against similar unaffected materials in that structure. When the levels
are the same, the drying is finished and the equipment removed.
A restoration professional,
such as PuroClean Home Rescue, understands and uses the principles and
procedures of the science of drying to dry walls and other items as
quickly and thoroughly as possible, preventing further damage and the
development of mold.
Regardless of the
circumstances - if water damage occurs from storms, floods, or other
sources, call your local PuroClean office, the Paramedics of Property
Damage. For all water damage, or damage from fire or smoke, these
professionals are standing by. They will mitigate the loss to prevent
further damage and will then provide restoration services to return
the property to a pre-loss condition as quickly as possible. All PuroClean
offices have well-trained and certified professional technicians who
provide the latest state-of-the-science services to all property damaged
from water, fire, mold, and other disasters.