A Guide to Repairing Your Drywall After a Leak
A water leak can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Whether you’re dealing with a burst pipe, a faulty appliance or a leaky roof, water can cause serious damage, particularly if you don’t catch the leak and stop it right away. Leaks can lead to structural damage, mold and mildew, and costly repairs.
When you have a leak, there are both immediate and long-term steps that can be taken to minimize damage. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps, from what to do when you first discover the leak to how to repair the damage.
What Should I Do When I Notice a Leak?
The absolute first step is identifying the source of the leak and stopping it. Always shut off the main water valve first, then start looking for the source. Sometimes the source is obvious, but other times it is harder to detect. Keep in mind that rather travels down, so if you have a leak in the drywall, consider what is above that spot. Is it underneath the bathroom or laundry room? If the leak is severe, you’ll also want to shut off utilities to prevent electrocution.
Your next mission is to get the water out as quickly as possible. Remove any standing water and use fans to circulate air through the room. Move any wet items out of the room – ideally outdoors – to dry. If the leak is minor, you can probably handle these tasks yourself. If it is major, you’ll probably want to call in a professional cleaning and restoration company that specializes in mitigating water damage. As soon as you’ve dealt with the emergency issues, call and notify your insurance company.
How Do I Repair Water-Damaged Drywall?
Once the leak has been stopped and you’ve done everything you can to mitigate damage, you can start thinking about any necessary repairs. In most cases, one of the biggest repairs is dealing with water damaged drywall. This is urgent because wet drywall is a breeding ground for mold – it could appear within days. Wet drywall is also not structurally sound. In the worst case scenario, when the water damage is significant, part of your wall or ceiling could come crashing down.
To determine what needs to be done, run your fingers over the drywall. If it is dry to the touch, you can probably get away with just painting over the spot. If the drywall is soft or spongey, however, the damaged section needs to be cut out and replaced. This is not difficult to do on your own if you have experience. However, if you’ve never worked with drywall, the job is best left to a professional. Ceiling work is particularly tricky because it is difficult to work over your head.
The cost of hiring a professional to repair your drywall depends on the severity of the leak. If you have two sheets of drywall that need to replaced and painted over, for example, budget about $500 to $700. Replacing just a small section might cost $100 to $300. However, keep in mind that this is only for the cost of repairing the drywall, not any other water damage that resulted from the leak. All told, major leaks can cost many thousands of dollars to repair and mitigate.