Bathroom Leaks are a Formula for Disaster
If you’re not a professional with the knowledge and experience to remediate a leak properly, you could be making the problem even worse than it was
Recently, a friend posted a photo on Facebook detailing a bathroom leak they were dealing with. While reading their comments, it was clear they were taking all of the DIY steps found commonly on the internet or common sense would dictate. This included a few fans placed strategically to dry out the affected areas.
We felt like it would be a good idea to reach out and see what had happened and if our company could be of any help. During our first conversation, they indicated that they had been battling with an unknown leak for several weeks without any effective resolution.
After being unable to resolve the leak, they contacted a plumber who was able to find a leak originating from a faulty seal on their shower door. They dismantled a partition wall half way up to the ceiling and removed several pieces of trim. All good things in theory—but despite these steps they still found some mold on the drywall and removed the affected pieces. Their fans were on and working. Or so they believed.
One of the many dangers for a DIY water mitigation can be adding airflow (using fans) on an area that has had microbial growth but has not been disinfected yet. When you place airflow in that situation, you run high risk of aerosolizing mold spores which can contaminate more areas in the home, including getting into the AC system.
We started by asking the usual series of questions: Was there any discoloring or evident warping of the walls? Were the walls malleable if they pressed on? Did they feel cooler to the touch in any areas? To each of these, their answers indicated that there was no evident issue.
Finally, because we wanted to be certain they would be taken care of, I asked one more question. Had they tested the walls with any type of moisture detector? And the answer was obviously “no”.
Water has a natural tendency to migrate from wet to dry. Through a wicking process, water originating from the floor can travel all the way up to the ceiling and from one end of a wall to the other, given enough time. Gravity is also a powerful force in helping water move from above to below.
The primary concern in any situation where water has spread is microbial growth. The conditions that promote growth are a relative humidity of 60% or higher. In addition to reducing the relative humidity, you must get moisture content below 16% in order to preventing microbial growth.
Following our advice, our friend purchased a non-invasive moisture meter from their local hardware store and started testing nearby walls. Sure enough, the water had migrated farther than they thought. In fact, they were getting wet readings at least five feet further down one wall and a few feet up the wall as they moved back to the original source.
Realizing they were in over their heads, they called us back. Once there, I brought in an invasive moisture probe and determined the scope in the bathroom. I still wanted to check one last place. The opposite side of the affected wall. And sure enough, in the closet down by the baseboard I found moisture—a lot more moisture.
We removed a baseboard, drilled some drying holes and set up a few air-movers and a dehumidifier to begin the drying process. We put up containment for the bathroom and a few days later, everything was dry.
The moral of the story is simple: DIY projects have become more popular as access to the Internet offer homeowners more options for saving time and money, however, without proper equipment and training, a DIY water mitigation project is a risk not worth taking.
As home owners ourselves, we will never fault someone for being self-reliant or trying to save money by doing projects themselves. We would, however, caution home owners on taking on a water mitigation project themselves. The potential risks associated with excess humidity and moisture levels in the home far outweigh the cost of professional attention.
Certain types of microbial growth can occur within 24 hours of water exposure. Couple that with the potential for a leak to go unnoticed for many weeks, and a water leak can cause major problems if left unresolved.
It’s important to know that in many instances, a wet area in a structure can be dried to safe levels within 24 hours—but only if it is addressed immediately. The health and safety of your family should be of paramount importance. The sooner a water leak is addressed the better it is for the home owner and your family’s wellbeing.
Hole in the Wall Restoration has the experience and knowledge required to deal with leak and flood dry outs, as well as the resulting mold problems. We are ready to serve your water damage and restoration needs.
Contact Hole in the Wall Restoration today at (407) 492-2160 to schedule an inspection of any drywall potential damage in your home.