Well I'm going to start this article with a little information on a job I did once.
I had been repairing a rental house for one particular homeowner for about three years when all of a sudden I got a phone call from him telling me the rental house was destroyed and he had never seen nothing like this. He sounded so upset over the phone I told him I would meet with him immediately.
On my way to the house I was trying to get an idea in my head what the house was going to actually look like. Since I have been repairing rental properties for over 20 years at this point of my career, nothing really shocked me. I had pretty much seen everything that could possibly be done to rental property by the tenants that lived there. There is a lot to be said about taking care of it as if it were your own.
He was waiting for me at the front door and he looked thoroughly disgusted. As I approached him he was shaking his head and yelling at the same time can you believe these people, can you believe what they did to my house. I was expecting to see the front door ripped off and all the windows broken out of the house but this wasn't the case.
As he led me through the home and I could see the usual clothing on the floor, broken cabinets, a few holes in the walls and of course that awful smell of mold and mildew. All of this stuff was nothing new to me because I'm the guy they call to fix it when a renter moves out of the property.
As I entered one of the bedrooms I got my first glimpse of something I had never seen before but heard stories about and could not believe my eyes. Looking at the walls in the bedroom about 3 feet from the floor all the way around the room, the plaster was soft. It actually looks like someone shoved popcorn into the wall somehow.
The homeowner wasn't even looking at this because of the rest of the damage in the home. I started to explain to him I'd never seen nothing like this but I could guess it was water damage somehow since the plaster was soft. I could actually stick my finger into the wall, that's how soft the plaster was.
My first thought was to examine the carpeting a little closer to see if it was wet. Well it was damp but it wasn't as wet as I would've expected it to be with the amount of water in the walls. With a little more home inspecting I had found the culprit, it was a broken water bed. The water bed was now in the backyard looking innocent.
I couldn't believe a broken water bed could do this much damage so I looked around for broken or leaking water pipes and could not find any. The other bad news I had to inform the homeowner was that the water had damage the bathroom and closet walls also. These walls of course were on the other side of the bathroom walls that were damaged.
Well the point of this story is that water will actually wick its way up or worked its way up into a wall. I had to remove 4 feet of drywall all the way around the room. The plaster or drywall actually acts like a sponge pulling the water into the walls. Hard to imagine that gravity in this case seems to reverse. I would've never thought that water would've traveled so far up the walls creating that much damage.
To repair the rental property I had to remove the damaged drywall, remove the carpeting, dry the wood framing out and put the whole thing back together.
I'm still amazed and will remember that project for as long as I live.
Greg Vanden Berge is working on the internet to promote the education for creating simple to follow guides and home building books to help professional building contractors as well as the weekend warriors. He is currently working on more Building and Remodeling Library and adding useful content to help solve problems created by the lack of construction knowledge in the building industry.
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