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Wet drywall and insulation

I've recently sustained a large amount of storm damage to my house and now have a blue tarped roof. During subsequent storms I have received a lot of rain in my attic which has soaked the blown-in insulation and many of the ceilings (leaking all the way down to the basement from the second floor). I know that I will have to replace the insulation, but how much moisture can the drywall withstand? Some of it is so wet you can put your finger through the mud. At what point should the wet areas be completely removed? My obvious concern at this point is mold, so I'm removing insulation and drying the from the attic side as best I can.

Thanks for any advice.

A. Spruce
Re: Wet drywall and insulation

First, get the roof secured to keep the rain out completely, whether that is done with tarping or repair of the roof surface.

You're right to be concerned about mold and the integrity of the drywall. It is likely that you'll have to replace the ceiling at the very least because wet drywall is very heavy and it will sag between the joists. If the water is being directed down through the wall cavities, then you'll need to strip at least one side of the wall, the remaining side and exterior sides of walls will dry out with little to no problems.

Re: Wet drywall and insulation

It's not so much how wet it gets but how long it stays wet, if you got the insulation out and you can get the sheet rock to dry quickly you should only have to replace the areas of sheet rock that are ruined, be sure the walls dry quickly to. Lots of fans and a dehumidifier.

Re: Wet drywall and insulation

The ANSI/IICRC S520 Standard & Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Resotration is what most restoration companies across American reference when trying to determine the need for removal of wet materials. In that it made a statement that as water mixes with soils and building materials it looses some of its cleanliness (the level at which it gets dirty depends on the materials it mixes with). It also says that the temperature and time is a major factor in the water and wet materials staying clean.

Obviously as the water deteriorates in cleanliness so does the building materials, but that is not all. Water damages, no matter the source, can have a quick and ill affect on the indoor air quality. Mold is just one of the players in a damage such as the one you're describing. There are many bacteria, insects and other parasites that can affect water, building material and indoor air cleanliness. It is for this reason many professional restoration companies will tell you that having a professional begin mitigation services within 12 - 24 hours is critical (the Standard does as well).

If there are questions where the cleanliness of the water and its effects on the indoor air quality are concerned, the ANSI/IICRC S520 says that an "independent Indoor Environmental Professional" should be contacted to define the "Condition" of the environment. What that means is that a third-party "with no affiliation with the restorer" should be contacted to inspect the property for the purpose of developing the "scope of work". The concern here is for all occupants safety and health.

Most insurance companies don't like the old saying: "when in doubt throw it out". So, you may want to look at having a professional, at least, assist you in defining the Condition and writing you a scope of work. Then you can determine whether or not it is something you can do yourself or if you want to take the next step in hiring a remediation professional.

Don't get me wrong. You should contact them when a problem occurs - start mitigation services like tarping, drying, etc. Just don't over look the other aspects of your initial concerns by not having this inspection performed.

I'll like a few resources where you can get more information on water damaged indoor environments (and mold) and some directories for professionals across the Country. I wish you all of the best.


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