I’m usually a fan of surprises, but sadly this is a surprise that I half-anticipated (I make up words sometimes), but immensely dreaded. My new house got a new roof in 2006 and they disclosed to me that there was water damage to some of the drywall, but it was repaired
when the roof was replaced. I noticed the repaired ceiling in the bathroom when I had the first viewing. In fact, my realtor (Sandra Newman) pointed out the repair and was outspoken in all of the homes that she thought would require a big fix immediately after purchase. But again, the bathroom ceiling was taken care of.
My inspector told me about the old damage and I recall seeing a minimal amount in the bedroom at the first viewing on an exterior wall around a window. Perhaps I was blinded by the prospect of owning a home so my mind just glossed-over the rough edges such as sub-par grout integrity, the occasional rubber baseboard that’s attached with packing tape or perhaps even the chipping paint and blistering that is characteristic of water damage.
Again, I recall seeing SOME damage, but either I am coming back to reality after living here for a couple weeks or the damage is getting worse. I only hesitate to state that as a fact because we’ve gotten substantial rain in the past couple weeks, and the areas don’t feel wet or smell damp (you know that basement smell, right?).
Another thing that unnerved me (like I REALLY need another thing) was the helpful note the sellers left on that window. I tossed out the note, but it was along the lines of, “Make sure you install a storm window in this window before the snow comes or else the ice melts and the window leaks.” I, of course, trashed the note thinking “Well, I won’t have to worry about that, I will just make sure I have a storm window in.” I didn’t stop to think, “Well, how the hell is the water going to come in? Are the windows so old that enough hot air escapes to melt ice and allow water to seep in?”
It would be a nice thought if it was only the window that caused the leak, but there are some minor signs of water damage on an interior wall near the baseboard. The interior wall damage is on the wall between our bedroom and the bathroom with the repaired ceiling, so damage on the ceiling would make sense. But on the floor? Not so much.
The damage on the ceiling and the wall around the window is bad enough that the paint and plaster are brittle and will crack with enough pressure (Yes, I just had to poke my finger through it to see if it was REALLY what I thought it was….and it was.). In fact, the border around the top of the wall is peeling off and taking some of the wall with it. The border positioned in a similar area on another window in that room has no damage and is doing no such thing.
So at this point I am sort of at a loss for ideas. I am probably going to do the worst thing and take a “wait and see” approach to it. If it is old damage from an old leak that has been repaired then the damage won’t spread….right? Honestly, I have looked up what I can and I don’t get the impression that previously damaged drywall continues to crack as it ages, but if that’s not the case then I hope it’s just paranoia in overdrive and there has been no additional deterioration since the roof was replaced. If it’s not my paranoia and the walls are getting worse (and if it is true that drywall doesn’t continue to crack after a leak is repaired) then I may be looking at a pretty large tab, and I am not a fan.
My “wait and see” approach isn’t totally half-assed. I obviously took pictures, so once a week I will survey the drywall’s condition compared to the photos. If it looks worse then I will call around and find someone to repair it. I would love to say I am capable of handling all home repairs that may be necessary, but I am not. And I don’t want to give anyone the impression that the average homeowner should attempt something that is integral to the house’s stability. If it isn’t cosmetic and/or the supplies cost a significant amount of money and/or it is a necessary improvement to keep the house safe and sturdy, then I will throw away every ounce of my pride and call a professional, because it’s absolutely not worth the risk to my house or my wallet if I do it wrong.
If after a couple months the damage has not worsened IN THE LEAST, and in my further research I discover that replacing the drywall isn’t necessary IN THE LEAST, then I will repair the wall with joint compound and maybe just replace the blistered area of drywall with a piece of drywall patched in. Then I will continue with my plans the use a faux ceiling tile to glam-up the joint. Yeah, it’s going to be a long process, but it’s better safe than sorry. (And by sorry I mean allowing my wall to crumble away piece by piece.)