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Drying inside of a wall

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Jan 09, 2014, 08:11 PM
Drying inside of a wall
Hello everyone! (I apologize if I have this in the wrong forum.)

I have hot water base board heating. Yesterday, I awoke to a broken pipe from the heating system, in one of the bedrooms on the second floor. This, of course, resulted in the water coming down to the first floor, into my kitchen.

The water started taking the wallpaper off the wall, and water was coming through my ceiling light fixture! The floor was flooded. We fixed the broken pipes, cleaned up the water, and wet wallpaper. Im not sure if any water ran inside the wall, or if it was just running down the outer wall. Of course, some ran along the ceiling, because it was coming out of the light.

My question is, how do I tell if the inside wall / ceiling needs to be dried out to prevent mould? There is no visible damage to the ceiling or wall drywall. There is no access to the area through tiles.....I dont want to be cutting holes in my drywall, if its not necessary.

Does anyone have any advice/suggestions for me? I would appreciate any feedback. Thank you!

Thank you!!
Jan 09, 2014, 08:38 PM
Ah, welcome to my world. With the recent cold snap we've been covered up with calls like this.

There is no real simple answer other than if you know that you have had water inside your exterior wall you are going to have to open it up to remove the wet insulation. So that's the first answer - if it's an exterior wall, it must be opened up either from the inside or out.

If any of your suspect walls have baseboard, then you can remove the baseboard and cut notches in the drywall. As long as you keep the cut below the level of the top of the baseboard, it will get covered up when the baseboard is reinstalled. Once you cut through you can check to see if there is any moisture in there. If there is moisture, especially in several cavities, or if there is wet insulation then you are going to have to remove the drywall to get things dried out.

More importantly - have you contacted your insurance company yet? These kind of accidents are usually covered. Your insurance company can probably recommend a contractor to do the work if you don't have one. If it is insured, then there is no reason to DIY this as it can get very involved. Very involved equals very expensive.

One of the projects we are working on right now had two pipes in the attic burst. Repairing the water lines cost under $200. We are estimating the repairs to the remainder of the house to be around $100,000.

Jan 09, 2014, 09:12 PM
Thank you so much for your response! This cold snap has been awful! Where I am we have the frigid temps but luckily not the massive amounts of snow.

The wall in question is an interior wall, not an exterior. Would that make a difference?

I did not call my insurance company since my husband was able to repair the pipe himself, I hadnt thought about any hidden damage. Thank you for mentioning that.

Wow thats alot of damage to the house with the attic pipe break. How awful.
Jan 09, 2014, 10:11 PM
Two answers:

1. If you called me into your house as a contractor (which I am) and asked how to fix this and what you should do I would say to call your insurance company, open up all the walls and ceilings that show moisture, dry everything out and rebuild. You'll be out your deductible but that will be your only cost. Biggest plus is that you will know for sure that there will not be any mold.

2. Totally different. Do nothing and take a chance. As it's an interior wall, there should not be any insulation inside. do consider the ceiling - as it sounds like it's got the finished second floor above, then it too is unlikely to have insulation inside. With just one water 'event', it is possible for the water to not cause any more problems. Basically you will be gambling that you will get lucky.

I'd go for choice #1.

Jan 10, 2014, 06:11 AM
Thanks again for replying!

I am going to opt for 1. I dont want to take any chances and have issues down the road.

I appreciate your input! Thank you.