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Question DetailsAsked on 1/16/2015

once the stucco walls get wet and the drywall can you use heaters to dry them out and will this prevent mold and ro

The roof leaked through the vents during a reroof. The water came down the inside walls of the kitchen down to the basement and in the furnace. There was alot o wter. I àm hoping that now that the leaking is stopped, i can use heaters and fans to dry it out and there wont be any problems

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Every case is unique, but in general flooding can be handled with ventilation if you get on it quick, because you have about 2-3 days to get it dried out before mildew sets in. Some people (and some Water and Smoke Damage/Restoration contractors) swear by ozone units to retard the development of mold while the area is drying out, others say it does no good.


Generally, insulated walls have to be opened up and forced ventilation run through them - using air ducts plugged into holes in the wall to pull air through the insulation in each bay. Fiberglass (batting and blown-in) generally behaves well in this case - organic insulation like cellulose and jeans and such are generally too compact after wetting to dry like this and end up having to be pulled out of the wall through holes near the bottom of the drywall, then the open area dried out. I would pearsonally never try to dry organic insulation in a wet wall.


Interior walls and ceilings without insulation frequently dry OK with just excellent ventilation (to the outside) to remove the humidity and dry out through the drywall, though I like to at least use a heavy duty shop vac to blow air into each stud or joist bay for 1/2 hour or so to dry it out. For better results or greater certainty, some remediation contractors use a straightedge and cutout tool to cut a 4 inch slot horizontally in the drywall across each wall near the top, to provide open access for drying. Of course, need patching and repainting once done.


The key is ventilation is to evacuate the moisture ot the outside - heating the room does remove the water from the materials and puts the moisture into the air, but if it is not evacuated immediately then you are just promoting mildew/mold growth by heating the room, which makes it grow faster. Using warm air for the ventilation air is good - heats the area so the moisture evaporates faster AND removes it from the area, but just heating the room and using exhaust fans (like a 20" fan in a window) is NOT enough, though a good start - but you need high-volume fans (rentable at tool rental places and many box stores) to move the air around in the room too so all areas (especially the cooler lower areas below window level) get evaporation too.


True wood flooring will sometimes dry out OK with just fans blowing over it - but commonly get warped enough it is ruined. However, I have never seen wood flooring survive that was immediately taken out - just warps too badly as it dries, so if there is going to be any chance of saving it, leaving it on the floor and drying it there is your only chance I would say - but I would guess probably significantly less than 50% chance of saving it unless it is heavy wood (5/4 or thicker material). Laminates (unless 100% plastic) and engineered wood generally do not behave at all well with serious wetting, and of course any plank or carpet flooring with moisture-absorbent padding needs to be removed in almost all cases. Occasionally, carpet can be taken up and spread out on a deck (in sunny weather) and dry to a point of being reusable, and if it has no padding can sometimes be dried out by a carpet cleaner, but generally is toast. Rugs you can generally spread on a cleaned drive or garage floor and clean/dry by a steam carpet cleaning company with good success.


Vinyl flooring, if fully adhered, commonly does well but might have a few areas peel up a bit. Linoleum is a gamble - I have seen it dry out without apparent damage (as long as you keep off it as much as possible, and definitely keep hard shoes off when wet) - other times it rolls right up by itself or turns to mush. Ceramic tile and stone flooring should dry out fine unless put down with a latex mastic. Concrete flooring (including painted or epoxied/urethaned) should be fine once dried out - though cheaper, and especially latex, floor paints may peel.


Of course, any under-floor or in-floor electric heating should be highly suspect at best, and is probably unsafe to reuse. In-floor hot water heating should be undamaged.


Electric wiring and outlets shoudl be checked out - generally, once the wiring is dried out it is OK unless totally submerged - but I personally would change out any outlets that got wet, to be on the safe side - or at a minimum check out with a tester after throroughly dry.


Drywall generally recovers OK if dried soon - stucco can be fine if portland cement based, generally disintegrates if plaster based. Ditto to true plaster - some plaster of paris and lime mixes turn to powder when they dry back out, some portland or "mediterranean" mixes just discolor but hold their strength fine.


Assume all surfaces have mold on them - so before repainting, treat as moldy and wash well with TSP to remove any bleed-through of lime, and use Kilz primer to prime walls and ceilings before repainting to be on the safe side.


The furnace, if it got wet inside, you need a technician to check out - commonly if electronic board got wet they are toast, but non-electronic components and the furnace itself you can commonly dry out with a fan directed at it (because insulation needs drying) and will be OK. In some code areas, furnaces and water heaters that have gone underwater are required to be replaced - but in your case sounds like not "submerged", so questionable. If covered by insurance I would go for replacement of all electrical and mechanical items that got wet.


I certainly hope you have documented all damage and gotten your insurance company adjuster in there with the contractor's adjuster, because you certainly have a claim against HIS insurance for the damages. I would get YOUR company involved so you are covered for anything his insuance does not cover.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD




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