Can Wet Drywall Ceiling Be Saved? (Helpful Tips)

can wet drywall ceiling be saved

You wake up early in the morning and feel the telltale drip-drip of a leak somewhere in the roof. That was what happened to me not long ago, a water pipe in the roof had burst, and the water was leaking through my ceiling. I knew I had to replace the pipe, but I wondered if a wet drywall ceiling could be saved?

Wet drywall can be saved, depending on the level of damage. With the help of fans, heaters, and dehumidifiers, you can dry out the drywall and better assess how bad the damage is. Drywall takes between 3 days – 4 weeks to dry fully, and you need to start drying immediately to stop mold from forming.

I was lucky because the damage to my drywall ceiling wasn’t as bad as I thought, and I was able to salvage the drywall with the help of fans and a heater. The leak wasn’t big, and I caught it early on. This is not always the case, so I thought I would share what I found about how I could save wet drywall ceilings during my research.

The 4 Steps to Save Wet Drywall Ceiling

drywall ceiling leak

When I was confronted with a drywall ceiling that was exposed to a water leak, the chance of saving my ceiling was in question. I had to do some research and found that I could save my drywall ceiling if I acted quickly and followed the right steps.

1. Control The Damage

The thing that needed my attention first was temporarily turning off the water in my house. It ensured that there wasn’t a steady flow of water pouring out of the leak. That gave me time to get control of the damage.

Now I needed to stabilize the part of the drywall ceiling where the water was coming through. I moved all of the furniture out of the way and put down a tarp to protect the floor from the dripping ceiling.

Because drywall will absorb and disperse the water, I needed to get the remainder out at a controlled point. I made a small hole with a screwdriver and put a bucket underneath to catch the remaining water that might be trapped behind the drywall ceiling.

2. Get The Leak Under Control

Then I needed to get the leak under control. Once I was in the ceiling, I realized the leak had traveled quite a bit. The leak was easy enough to fix, but now I had to get the drywall ceiling dried out to assess the damage.

3. Drying Out The Drywall Ceiling Is Key

When I had fixed the leaky pipe, I had to dry out the drywall. To do this, I hired two dehumidifiers, closed off all the entrances and exits, and used fans to get all the moisture out of the drywall ceiling.

Luckily I didn’t have extensive drywall warping; if this did happen, I would have had to put supports in the most affected areas to let the drywall dry out and keep it from sagging and maintain a straight shape.

Drying out the drywall ceiling took priority because when the wet drywall ceiling is left wet for too long, then it might develop mold. Mold will make an appearance within the first 24-hours of exposure to moisture.

Stopping the chance of black mold growing is crucial. If you have family or friends who have respiratory problems, it would be best to keep them out of the affected room until it is repaired.

4. Repairing The Drywall Ceiling

Now that my drywall ceiling was dry, I needed to see how bad the damage was. I was lucky, and it dried out quickly, and there were no mold patches. Because I caught the leak early on, I repaired the ceiling with some spackle and paint. It isn’t always that easy, though.

Can Wet Drywall Ceiling Be Saved If It Has Extensive Damage?

drywall ceiling damaged

As I said before, the extent of the damage will directly influence if you can save the wet drywall ceiling. If the drywall ceiling were exposed to water extensively before it was stopped, it wouldn’t return to its original shape even after it dries out.

It will be clearly discolored and warped. If you apply pressure, then you will find it crumbles into a fine chalk powder. These areas will need to be removed and replaced because moisture-damaged drywall is a concern.

Can Drywall Ceilings Be Saved If There Is Mold Growth?

Mold can develop in 12-24 hours after being exposed to moisture. If mold has taken root in drywall ceilings, it will persist even after the drywall has been dried completely. In mild cases, you might have a moldy, earthy smell and discoloration.

In extreme cases where there is black mold, the entire section will need to be removed immediately as the mold will spread, and it is a huge health hazard.

When To Call Professionals If You Have A Wet Drywall Ceiling

If you have drywall ceiling water damage, it’s not easy to tell if it can be saved. If you are unsure whether to call for help, look for these signs.

  • If the damage has caused mold to take root, it’s best to let the professionals handle drying out the drywall to reduce the health risk to you and your family.
  • If the water damage had caused the ceiling to sag significantly, it might be in danger of ceiling collapse, and you will need to call in a contractor before it happens.
  • If your leak was because of a sewage backup, you have to call certified professionals to help. Only certified professionals have the equipment and understanding of biohazard cleanup.
  • If you find structural damage above the drywall ceiling, you need to call in a contractor to help stabilize the roof trusses.


A wet drywall ceiling can be fixed if you follow the steps I mentioned above, but it is best to remove the affected section and replace it if you find too much damage. Please look out for signs of mold growth as it is a health hazard. You will find that in cases of severe drywall water damage, you will have to call in contractors to get it repaired.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.