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“My Ceiling Is Leaking!”
Such was the call one morning last week from a good client. She owns and operates a school that was experiencing significant water coming in through her drywall ceiling. To make matters worse, the ceiling leaks were in an area used for infants and she was planning on having an open house to attract new clients in just 2 days. Given that her school is an immaculate, well-maintained, and professionally run operation, roof leaks and or ceiling stains are completely unacceptable to her.
A Major Cause of Ceiling Drywall Repairs…
With all of the snow we have had the last few weeks, we have seen a major increase in ceiling damage due to ice dams forming on the roof. These ice dams cause subsequent snow melt to back up and enter the roof, eventually leaking down onto the ceiling drywall, causing stains and damage. Ice dams are extremely difficult to remove during cold weather. Therefore, prevention is paramount to avoid costly ceiling drywall damage.
Ice Dams Can Cause Serious Drywall Ceiling Damage
The following story and pictures are from a school in Mason, Ohio that suffered from severe ice dams this past week. The owner of the school reported significant water leaking from several areas of the ceiling and window. In addition, she reported seeing large icicles hanging from the roof line adjacent to the area of building affected by the ceiling leaks. Upon arrival, our goal was to quickly identify the cause of the ceiling leak and mitigate further ceiling drywall damage, as ceiling drywall repair is far more expensive than simply fixing drywall damage done to walls.
For a brief discussion on what causes ice dams to form and how you can prevent them, please reference my previous post, Avoid Costly Winter Home Repairs with 5 Simple Steps from ProMaster of Cincinnati .
Now, back to the story. Once on site, we noted each area of the ceiling where water was coming in. We then quickly inspected the underside of the entire roof from the attic to determine the source and cause of the leak. While our initial assessment suspected the cause of the leak to be an ice dam, I always stress to my craftsmen to not bias their diagnosis toward the first piece of information they discover. Rather, they should troubleshoot all potential causes of a problem before issuing a conclusion. This prevents wasted effort attempting to solve the wrong cause of a problem.
Ice Dams That Caused Ceiling Drywall Damage
After eliminating other causes of water intrusion that could cause the ceiling drywall leaks noted in the school building, we established that the ice dams, with subsequent melting snow, were the source of the water. The good news is that we found the cause. The bad news was that the small area of roof affected by the leak was not accessible. In other words, it was a sealed area, making it impossible for us to install any sort of temporary barrier to channel the incoming water away from the room below, thus preventing further damage to the ceiling drywall.
Here are some of the pictures from the ice dams that were causing the leak and subsequent ceiling drywall damage. As you can see, they are pretty severe and not easily removed. While icicles are certainly attractive—they are dangerous and indicative of either insufficient insulation and/or a roof and gutter system ineffectively shedding water. If you see this, you have a serious problem.
How We Saved the Client from Major Ceiling Drywall Repairs
Therefore, the best option was to remove the ice dams as quickly as possible. Otherwise, every minute that the leak continues only raises the client’s cost for ceiling drywall repair. Given that these leaks were in an infant nursery, you can imagine the client’s distress and motivation to resolve the problem as expeditiously as possible.
How did we “save the day?” Well, emulating what we did can reveal a few tips you can use at home to safely and effectively melt an ice dam on your home, even when the temperature is below freezing.
First, my assistant Brice and I went to the local grocery store and purchased several packages of ladies hosiery. Needless to say, we felt slightly embarrassed going through the checkout line… but hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, right?
Next, we purchased some granular ice melt, liquid deice (the type you would use in your car’s windshield washer fluid) and several runs of heating elements that are designed to keep gutters from freezing.
Now comes the fun part. Brice went through the arduous task of chipping away as much of the ice dam as possible. Using some of the liquid deice assisted in softening the ice, but this was still no small feat, as the ice was over 4 inches thick in many places! He then carved a trough in the frozen gutters and carefully placed the wire heating element inside it. And finally, he filled each leg of the ladies hosiery with the granular snow melt and placed these sausage-like devices in the trough of the gutter.
While it took 2 days to completely melt all of the ice from the gutters and roof in the affected area, we were able to stop the water intrusion that was leaking onto the drywall ceiling rather quickly. Hence, we spared the client considerable cost in drywall repair and subsequent inconvenience or loss of revenue to her daycare and school operation.
Lesson of the whole story is this: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
What caused the ice dams to form on this school were the combination of clogged and inappropriately sloped gutters, insufficient attic insulation, and no heating elements installed in the gutters to handle large snow events.
Ceiling Leak Caused Need for Repair?
ProMaster Home Repair & Handyman of Cincinnati is a great choice for those who don’t have the time or inclination to perform their own ceiling drywall repairs. From simple crack repairs in walls and ceilings to complete water damage restoration services, ProMaster of Cincinnati has a skilled team of professionals who understand that attention to detail, artistry and precise craftsmanship are the keys to success in any ceiling drywall repair project.
Our Master Craftsmen are professionals who have honed their drywall repair skills by experience and a quest for perfection. Keep in mind that these craftsmen aren’t just drywall repair experts; they are skilled at other home repair tasks like carpentry, concrete & masonry, drywall & paint, electrical, flooring & tile, plumbing and roofing. Our multi-skilled craftsmen represent a distinct advantage over other drywall repair contractors due to their ability to perform numerous tasks associated with a ceiling drywall project.
Drywall repair is a straightforward process that just about any homeowner can learn to do.
Given that homes today are built with lumber inferior to that of generations past, movement of drywall from warping and shrinking in the home’s framing causes a variety of drywall-related problems. Therefore, many homeowners will need to repair corners, cracks, screw pops, tape seams, and other drywall imperfections that accrue over time. In addition, damage from water intrusion, household accidents and normal wear and tear necessitate a periodic drywall repair to keep the walls looking good, especially before they are painted.
Watch Drywall Repair Video
Thankfully, drywall repair tools and materials are inexpensive and easy to find. The skills and techniques for performing drywall repair, however, are slightly more complex. Not every person will be able to perform a drywall repair as well as a ProMaster Master Craftsman, but many homeowners can perform satisfactory drywall repairs on their own, with a little practice.
Call (513) 724-0539 or
If you decide to tackle a drywall repair yourself, here is my quick “how to guide” that will satisfy most projects around your home.
How to Repair Drywall in 9 Simple Steps
For the sake of discussion, I’m going to assume that you’ve never finished or repaired drywall before. In addition, let’s pretend you aren’t like me in that you’ll use any home project as an excuse to acquire more tools, whether absolutely necessary or not. (Don’t tell my wife this!)
So the purpose of the following guide is to help the beginner do-it-yourselfer accomplish his/her first drywall repair, with minimal steps, tools and materials. Since most of you reading this post live in Cincinnati, Ohio, it highly probable that your home’s walls are made of conventional drywall, finished with a smooth texture.
If your home’s walls are made of plaster, I wouldn’t recommend attempting a repair yourself. With plaster, it is best to leave it to a qualified pro like a ProMaster Master Craftsman.
And that advice goes for large drywall holes, too. I can’t tell you the number of calls we get from folks that are completely dissatisfied with their attempt at patching a drywall hole or severe crack. So for your first drywall repair, it’s best to start small with simple cracks, dents, nail pops, nail holes, nicks and loose seams.
Drywall Repair Tools and Materials
Go to your local home improvement store and buy:
- (1) 4” Drywall Knife
- (1) 12” Stainless Steel Mud Pan
- (1-qt) All-Purpose Joint Compound
- (1) Drywall Sanding Sponge
- (1-qt) Latex-Based Drywall Primer
- (1) 2” Angle-Tipped Paint Brush
1. Depending on the amount of drywall repairs required, remove an appropriate amount of joint compound (or “mud,” as it is commonly referred to) from the plastic tub using your 4” drywall knife and scrape it off into your 12” mud pan. The idea here is to keep the joint compound fresh so that is doesn’t dry out—so only take as much mud out as you can use within 10 minutes. Otherwise, “chunks” of drywall mud develop, making your drywall repair much more difficult.
2. Briefly work the drywall mud back and forth in your pan a few times–like you would knead bread dough. This removes air from the mud to help reduce bubbles when you place it on the wall.
3. Apply a thin coat of drywall mud to the crack or dent. Use the knife to scrape the mud flush with the surrounding surface of the drywall. It is better to apply 2 or 3 thin coats of mud (allowing each coat to dry in between applications) versus one thick coat. One of the more common mistakes I see with drywall repair is mud that is applied too thick. This rarely results in a good surface and makes for additional time and mess during the sanding phase.
4. Allow the mud to dry. Dry time is highly influenced by type and brand of compound, thickness and amount of mud application, as well as ambient temperature and humidity of the room. If you want to accelerate dry time, grab a hair dryer to dry the area (as seen in this picture of my craftsman Drew).
5. Once the drywall mud is completely dry, place a drop cloth below the area of drywall repair, as you’re going to make a mess next! Use your sanding sponge to sand the area flush with the remaining wall. Use lighter pressure as you finish to avoid gouging or scratching up your work. Some people like to have a buddy hold a shop vacuum up to the area to suck up all the drywall dust while they work. If you decide to do this make sure you have a drywall dust or HEPA filter installed—otherwise you’ll just end up blowing the dust throughout the room.
6. Take a damp paper towel or cloth to wipe down the drywall repair to remove any remaining dust. You can also use a wet cloth or sponge to “wet sand” the area to get an extra smooth effect, if desired.
7. Using your small paintbrush, apply a light coat of primer to the drywall repair. This will seal the joint compound, hide the repaired area, and prepare it to accept paint.
Painting a Room
8. When painting the drywall repair, I recommend painting an entire section of the wall, if possible. Although you may have left over paint from when the wall was originally painted, or purchased new paint with same formula as the original, it is unlikely to match. Walls age and collect dirt as time passes, altering their appearance and color. Hence, if you can paint a whole section of the wall, up to a corner or seam, the difference of “new” versus “old” paint is less visible.
9.This is by far the best part of the job: stand back, admire your work, and brag to all of your friends and family how handy you are!
Call (513) 724-0539 or
Let ProMaster Do My Drywall Repair
ProMaster Home Repair & Handyman is a great choice for those who don’t have the time or inclination to perform their own drywall repairs. From simple crack repairs in walls and ceilings to complete water damage restoration services, ProMaster of Cincinnati has a skilled team of professionals who understand that attention to detail, artistry and precise craftsmanship are the keys to success in any drywall repair project.
Our Master Craftsmen are professionals who have honed their drywall repair skills by experience and a quest for perfection. Keep in mind that these craftsmen aren’t just drywall repair experts; they are skilled at other home repair tasks like carpentry, concrete & masonry, drywall & paint, electrical, flooring & tile, plumbing and roofing. Our multi-skilled craftsmen represent a distinct advantage over other drywall repair contractors due to their ability to perform numerous tasks associated with a drywall project.
Click here to watch a video from the President of ProMaster, introducing the company.
Fascinating update on the effects of tainted Chinese drywall. While a majority of this imported drywall ended up in Florida and Louisiana, it is possible that residents in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana who had a home built since 2006 may have it as well.
Read the New York Times article.
More information: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Drywall Information Center.
For information on drywall installation or repair, visit ProMaster at www.MasterMyList.com.