what to do if you have a leak
You may not like the answer but here it is. Most homes today have drywall used for their walls. IF drywall ( aka “sheetrock”) is allowed to remain wet for more than 48 hours it will almost certainly contain growth mold. So, the trick is to dry it out as fast as possible. Mold cannot be removed from drywall. So you must remove the drywall. This includes drywall that is behind cabinets and built-ins. So the answer to the question of what to do if you have a leak, is not as simple as it may seem.
(typical dry-down) (This WAS dried down and was “fine”) hmm..
This is what a typical dry down company will do when responding to a water loss. But what is wrong with this picture? Note that the drywall on the side of the framing members we can see is removed, while the other side of the wall the drywall remains. If water impacts one side of the wall, surely it will impact the other as well. So if that other side is not dry within 48 hours there will be mold growth; even if you cannot see it!
What to do if you have a leak
That can be tricky if say there are cabinets and the leak is under your sink and the drywall that became wet is behind the cabinets. The simple rule of thumb is that if drywall has become wet for more than 48 hours; simply remove it. If in the alternative your walls are plaster, then again that is a bit more tricky. But as a general rule simple attempt to dry it within 48 hours.
- First remove all contents that have become wet from the affected area.
- Remove drywall and insulation from exposed areas to afford air flow to impact the wall cavities. * if this is an older leak, or a leak in an area that has leaked before, be sure you have proper containment and separation of air space prior to removing any building materials. If when you remove any building materials, you see discoloration or dark growth. Stop and call a professional asap.
- Separate the area of the water loss from the rest of the home.
- remove carpeting and padding. Discard the padding.
- use dehumidifiers and blower fans INSIDE of the contained area.
- Check the moisture level of the impacted walls comparing the moisture level of a similar non impacted wall. I.e. interior wall facing South impacted by the loss to interior wall facing South in non impacted area. IF there is any anomaly note after 48 hours, then abandon dry down efforts and move to more invasive measures.
It is a good idea to test surfaces that appear to be clean for mold. We use ATP rapid assay analysis to immediately determine if there is growth or not.