Repairing Ice Dam Damage

By Robert Robillard on Home Maintenance

Removing Ice dams

Repairing water damaged walls and ceilings

“Preparation When Painting Is Everything!! Rush the paint preparation and you’ll end up regretting it!” . . . . . says my friend and fellow craftsman Mark O’Lalor of O’Lalor Painting Company.

This article will focus on how to repair water damaged ceiling and walls and prepare for paint.
I’ve received so many calls for folks whom have suffered water damage this year. Water stains and peeling paint are pain in the ass, but simple to remedy.

What Happens When Plaster Gets Wet?

When plaster gets wet the surface will usually manifest as a yellow or brownish stain, and if the leak was heavy, the surface may begin to bubble from the chemical reaction of the lime in the plaster.

If leaking was severe, sometimes the ceiling or wall plaster come off the studs, strapping or wood lath. This usually means that the metal nails / screws rusted or nails pulled out.

Using A Moisture Meter

Before performing any repair work on this area you may want to see if the plaster has dried out enough. Use a moisture meter to determine the extent of the moisture content and dry any areas out that are excessively wet.

Take several readings, spread out over the damaged area, and compare your readings from dry, non-damaged areas as well.

A zero moisture is unrealistic, you’re looking for a reading between 7 and 13 percent moisture.
Each situation is slightly different so lets break down this damage into steps:

Remove the bubbled and flaking plaster:

The first step to making repairs is to remove all the damaged material, bubbling and peeling paint, and assess how deep the damage goes.

Use a putty knife to lift off flaking surfaces. If the damage goes deeper, apply firm pressure with the blade to dig out all the damaged, soft material. Continue to dig out and work your way around the edges of the damaged area, digging with the knife until you reach hard, undamaged plaster.

Test the paint coat immediately surrounding the area to see if it will peel off easily. Work out from the center with a putty knife to remove any loose paint. You want to ensure that the plaster is solid and the adjacent paint is fully adhered.

If the wallboard is sound, but the plaster is chipped or peeling away this can be easily repaired with joint compound and practice “mudding.” [Described below]

Cut out badly damaged surfaces:

If your plaster is badly damaged, sagging or bulging, you may have to remove it and replace it with new blue board or drywall. A small plaster blister or a hole [poked for drainage] can be spanned with mesh tape and covered with skim coats of drywall compound.

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor / Writer / Video Talent

Robert Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter and operates a remodeling company located in Concord, MA. He is the editor of ConcordCarpenter.com and ToolBoxBuzz, and a has a weekly column in the Sunday Boston Globe. Rob is a recognized leader in tool and how-to information for building professionals, he hosts the Concord Carpenter Cable TV Show, offering advice on home repairs and maintenance. On his website, Rob uses his knowledge and experience to help and educate on best practices in the remodeling industry. His motto: “Well done is better than well said!”. Contact Rob at: info@aconcordcarpenter.com

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