Water Damage: Seen & Unseen

Water Damage?  Dry Rot?  Drywall damage?

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If you’ve had any sort of flooding or water leak, it’s important to keep an eye on your drywall for any areas that might be sagging, collapsing, wrinkling, bulging, or falling.  Drywall makes up a large majority of the walls and ceilings in your home, unless your home was built before the 1950’s, then it most likely has plaster instead.  Drywall is fairly inexpensive to replace comparatively, and can even look like it with the application of plaster over the drywall.  

Wet drywall can compromise the integrity of the wall itself.  When the material gets wet, it swells and can break away from the fasteners, and could be structurally unstable even after drying.  If left unnoticed, the life of the wall or ceiling will be drastically reduced.  While water damage should be pretty obvious, there’s a myriad of issues that a flood or leak can cause BEHIND the drywall.  

 

Mold Growth

It only takes between 24-48 hours for mold to begin growing in an area that has been exposed to water.  Once the mold begins to grow, the drywall offers the perfect environment for quicker growth to occur.  The material itself holds water, which mold (a fungus) needs to activate new spores, while the external paper of the wall is cellulose-rich and feeds the growing mold.  This growth can be exacerbated even further when insulation inside the wall also retains water.  Different molds will grow on different surfaces, are found in all colors from green to black to pink, and can be toxic in large quantities.  Severe mold growths can cause serious upper respiratory issues and skin irritations for humans and animals alike.  

The best way to combat mold growth is to locate the source of the moisture, remove the affected areas, construct a dehumidification process to remove any leftover water, and replace the damaged materials.  Many services offer “mold treatment” sprays and similar processes, but the only guarantee is to fully remove the material and dry everything out.  Mold will not survive without moisture.  

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Dry Rot

Another type of fungal mold growth is Dry Rot.  This is a mold that directly affects the wood in your home and is also known as “brown rot.”  This happens most frequently when water damage has not been addressed and wood stays wet for an extended period of time.  Other times, dry rot can be caused by improperly dried and cured wood used in construction or decorating.  Like drywall, wood provides an excellent food source for the mold.  As long as water, oxygen, food (wood), and warm temperatures are available, the fungus will continue to grow.  You know you have dry rot when the wood begins to become frail, flakes into chunks, develops a cotton-like or even a flat yellow growth on top.  If left untreated, the wood will practically disintegrate.

To treat dry rot, there are several options.  Some will fill the affected wood with epoxy to seal the rot into the wood and reinforce the strength of the wood.  The best option to eliminate mold presence is to remove the rotted pieces, thoroughly dry out the area and fix leaks, treat the remaining healthy wood with a copper compound, and replace with new wood.  To prevent future issues, check for leaks in siding, roofing, plumbing, ventilation, and anything else that may allow unwanted moisture in your home.

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