We just repaired a bad water leak that completely covered one wall in the finished basement. It’s dry wall with a vapor barrier and insulation behind it. The only moisture I can feel is in the corners of the drywall at the base but I know the insulation is probably wet. Do I need to tear out the entire wall and replace everything except the studs? I think I know your answer but want to make sure before I do anything.
DRY, DRY, DRY ASAP!!
You have a 72-hour window to dry out that wall before mold and mildew begin growing, so act fast!
First remove the carpet and the padding in that area and let it dry outdoors in the sun, if possible. Or lay new carpet and padding once everything else is dry. Second, get some fans running in the area, and open the basement windows so there’s decent circulation.
DEHUMIDIFY with as many dehumidifiers as you can muster while the fans are running. You need one dehumidifier per 300 square feet, or one per room if the same wall runs through a few small spaces.
The wood framed wall will be wet at the bottom wood wall plate and it then wicked that moisture up into the stud cavity and the insulation. This is why heavy dehumidifying is so urgent. Quickly removing the moisture from the basement is the key.
If you were unable to begin the drying process within 72 hours of the water damage, and the basement temperature has been 70 degrees or higher since then, you’ve got a mold and mildew problem brewing behind the wall. Mold and mildew is first noticed by smell.
If this is the case, removal of the lower drywall is necessary to dry out behind the wall and then replace the insulation and wall board with new gypsum drywall. The goal is to dry the wood framing, insulation and drywall fast, before mildew and mold becomes entrenched.
If you would like help diagnosing and solving this problem, please call our office at 314.909.1800 or contact us here. For answers to home improvement questions, visit the Mosby Home Improvement Library.