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How Does Water Cause Damage To Walls And Ceilings?

roof leak

Dripping ceilings or walls may be the first sign of a leak. Property owners should determine and fix the cause of the leak as soon as possible. Specialists in water damage restoration for walls & ceilings can then follow up with a strategy for either drying or tearing out and replacing ruined building materials. The most important factors include the composition and condition of ceilings and walls, the level of contamination, and the duration of the damage. Find out more about some of the effects that water damage may have on porous building materials such as drywall, plaster, and masonry.

Leaks Introduce Moisture

A plumbing or roofing leak is the most common cause of water damage that affects the ceilings and walls of a structure. A roof leak may cause water to drip, course, and collect above ceilings or behind walls. Leaky pipes can maintain elevated levels of moisture in either of these locations, depending on where supply lines run. In general, a leaky pipe or roof may cause a slow leak that causes ceilings and walls to stay wet for a prolonged period of time. A broken supply line can flood a structure within a matter of minutes.

Any source of water can damage building materials and increase the risk of mold growth. The amount of water involved is an important factor, as is the initial level of water contamination. Water from a burst or leaky supply line is treated, whereas water that originates from a roof leak can encounter contaminants as it makes its way through building materials that may intensify damage or support accelerated mold growth.

Drywall or Plaster Become Saturated

A roof or slow plumbing leak may continue for some time before signs of water damage become obvious on the interior side of a wall or visible portion of a ceiling in the form of dampness, dripping, staining, or degrading material. The degree of damage may be more or less severe depending on the amount of water, duration of a leak, and level of water contamination. Most homeowners are not able to accurately assess the degree of damage that building materials have sustained or determine the most effective methods of water damage restoration for walls & ceilings.

Category One water damage caused by a broken or leaky supply line involves clean water. These incidents should only require plumbing repairs and drying if the problem is addressed within 24 hours of the initial incident. Property owners should keep in mind that the condition of treated water will degrade over time, particularly as a leak courses behind walls or between floors, and makes contact with building materials. Depending on the level of contamination and the duration of time that has passed since damage started, it may be necessary to tear out and replace drywall, plaster, or masonry that has absorbed contaminated water.

Water from a roof leak, sewer backup, or shower pan leak may start off or quickly become contaminated with biohazards, chemicals, and microbes. Category Two water damage involving gray water necessitates disinfection, as does Category Three black water from flooding or a sewer backup. Regardless of the category of damage, increasing ventilation is helpful for promoting faster drying. Running a dehumidifier can reduce relative indoor humidity levels and draw moisture out of porous materials.

Contaminants Permeate Porous Materials 

Drywall, plaster, and masonry are porous and prone to absorb moisture along with any contaminants that are present in water. The porosity of these building materials makes thorough disinfection difficult. In cases of extensive Category Two or Category Three water damage, cleanup and restoration experts may recommend tearing out and replacing these materials. If a residence is prone to leaks or high humidity, the owner may want to consider having antifungal treatments applied to building materials or having mold-resistant materials installed.

By the time that indications of water damage become apparent on ceilings or walls, there is a good chance that damage has penetrated porous building materials. Experts can recommend which materials are safe to clean and dry and identify whether any porous materials have been exposed to contaminated water and will need to be torn out and replaced. United Water Restoration Group connects property owners across the country with leading local and regional specialists in water damage restoration for walls & ceilings.