How to Dry Out Damp Walls

May 4, 2023

Have you noticed darker spots on your walls recently? Do you sense the presence of an uncomfortable, musty smell in the same room? Is your wallpaper peeling off?

These are all signs that you have a water damage problem behind your walls. Many times, water damage is sudden and abrupt, causing chaos around the home as soon as it erupts, but in other cases, a leak can start small and the moisture can gradually accumulate and build up into a bigger issue days, weeks, or even months later. 

Failing to resolve hidden issues, such as blocked drains, could exacerbate water damage behind your walls, eventually leading to complicated problems like mold development and structural loss.

In today’s post, we’ll discuss what causes damp walls, what are the risks associated with water-damaged walls, and then what to do about it. 

Let’s get right into it!

What Are the First Signs of Damp Walls

In the previous paragraph, we’ve mentioned some of the signs that usually follow dampness in walls, but let’s dive a little bit deeper now. 

Here are some of the most common signs of damp walls:

  • Dark patches or stains
  • Peeling or bubbling wallpaper or paint
  • Wall cracks
  • Mold or mildew growth
  • Walls feel spongy when you touch them
  • Brown spots on the ceiling, usually in the corners of your room
  • Sagging or drooping ceiling

There are also some signs you should keep an eye out for that aren’t necessarily directly visible on your walls or around them. These include:

  • Dripping sounds, usually noticeable at night when everything is quiet 
  • Unusually high water bills
  • Musty odor

If you notice multiple of these, or even just one, you need to investigate further. However, note that sometimes, the presence of just one of these signs doesn’t necessarily have to mean that there is water damage in your house, but it depends on which sign we’re talking about.

For example, wall cracks can occur as a result of the house settling, not just because of a water leak. Similar goes for peeling paint, it's not just water damage that can cause it.

But if you still suspect that you have a water problem, keep on reading. 

Damp Walls Health Risks

The wall itself won’t necessarily harm you in any way, although there are risks of the ceiling collapsing if there’s a substantial amount of water pressing it downward. 

But if you don’t have a water-damaged ceiling, there are other ways water damage can harm your health.

First of all, whenever there is water damage, mold usually starts developing. It takes around 24 to 48 hours for the mold to develop in a damp area, and when it does, it will be clearly visible and you will be able to sense a strong, musty smell. 

Mold can cause many symptoms including coughing, sneezing, wheezing, sore throat, itchy skin, runny nose, watery eyes, and more. If you have an allergy or asthma, mold can trigger it. 

Dampness and mold can also affect the immune system. 

It’s critical that you mitigate all of the problems or that you hire a professional to do it for you before the conditions inside your home worsen. 

Can Damp Drywall Be Saved

Most of the time, a damp drywall should be replaced. The reason for this is that the negative effects of a water-damaged drywall are very hard to be reversed. 

You can also take it this way. If the drywall is more than 1% damp, it can’t be preserved. But how to measure the dampness of your drywall?

If you can’t tell how damp your wall is just by looking at the surface and all of the different signs of dampness, you can use a moisture meter with a drywall scale.

The moisture meter will have a pin which you simply need to push into the drywall and look at the readings it provides. 

Drywall deteriorates very quickly, hence it is necessary for you to take action as soon as you spot any of the red flags we’ve discussed above. 

Best Way to Dry Damp Walls

It goes without saying that you should first fix the source of the water, otherwise the problems will just keep reemerging. In most cases, the source of the water would be a plumbing leak. 

You can locate the leak simply by looking at the wall and finding the most damaged spot. A leak is usually located behind it. 

However, in situations like these it’s better to call in a water damage repair professional who knows how to properly detect and repair a moisture source. Professionals will also do the drying for you, so you won’t have to struggle to DIY.

But if you still decide to take it all on yourself, here’s how to do it. 

For the drying process, you’ll likely need some equipment if there is a lot of water damage. This includes air movers and a dehumidifier. 

Air movers are used for targeting a specific area in a room, while a dehumidifier is used for drying out an entire damp area.

If you’re wondering how to get this equipment, we recommend renting it out. Purchasing this equipment is really not necessary unless you’re a professional who will need to utilize these tools on a daily basis for work. 

Make sure to open up all of the windows and doors of the damp room and then start running the equipment. 

The best way to utilize the equipment is to use an air mover per a damp spot on a wall, and then run a dehumidifier so that the moisture levels of the entire room can be brought down to normal. 

How Long Does It Take for a Damp Wall to Dry Out

In most water damage scenarios, if you’re utilizing professional dehumidifiers and air movers, it takes 3 to 5 days to fully dry out a room. 

In more severe water damage scenarios, though, it may take a couple of weeks or even months, depending on how bad the damage is. In these types of events, you’ll typically deal with multiple damp rooms or even an entire water-damaged property. 


If you’re dealing with a damp wall, again, your best bet is to call in a professional restoration company to take care of the issue for you. They’ll know how to properly detect and mitigate a moisture source and then all of the damage the moisture caused.

However, if you decide to repair all of the damage on your own, know that it will take a lot of work and that you’ll also need some equipment.

That’s it for today, good luck!

Emiy Watson

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