Water from the leaky shower drain dripped onto the basement drywall ceiling causing a fair amount of water damage. What appeared to be a simple stain on the finished ceiling is really a hole on the unfinished side of the drywall.
This article explains how to repair the drywall ceiling by cutting out and replacing the damaged area.
Leaky Shower Ceiling Water Damage
Water from the leaky shower drain dripped from the U-bend in the PVC drain plumbing onto the suspended drywall basement ceiling. The leak caused the drywall paper backing to delaminate and the splashing action of the water drip eroded the gypsum material leaving a crater.
The basement ceiling is 14 feet high because the house sits on a hillside and has high basement walls. I used a 16 foot extension ladder and a Werner AC78 QuickClick Stabilizer to stand the ladder an extra 10 inches off the wall to better reach the damaged area. The water stain doesn’t look that bad from this viewpoint, however upon closer inspection the drywall paper is delaminated with a sagging bubble in the center.
I bought my Werner AC78 QuickClick Stabilizer from Amazon.com, it’s great for laying up the ladder across a window!
Damaged Drywall Repair Options
Option 1: Self-Adhesive Mesh Drywall Patch
Drywall patches are widely available at home improvement stores that consist of a thin metal mesh with a sticky backing. The metal mesh provides support for the spackle. The patch is stuck over the hole, spackle, sand and paint. Self-adhesive metal patches work best on walls and small holes, but often sag when used on ceilings. I therefore chose not to use a metal repair patch.
Option 2: Cut Out and Replace with New Drywall
The best way to repair the roughly 5″ by 5″ area of damaged drywall ceiling is to cut out the area and replace it with a new section of drywall, install a wood reinforcement piece, tape the joints, apply joint compound, sand and paint. The most difficult part was working on the extension ladder to reach the high ceiling.
Option 3: Install a Drywall Access Panel
The problem with Options 1 and 2 are if the leak were to happen again, you’ll be redoing the ceiling repairs. Depending on the nature of the leak, it may be necessary to cut an opening in the ceiling to fix the plumbing. In the 3 years since I made this repair, I’ve been introduced to the bauco drywall access panels. The bauco access panel solves both the repair and plumbing access problems. If I were to do this repair again, I’ll use the bauco access panel.
Drywall Repair Kit
You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you assemble the necessary tools and materials before starting the job. The items needed for this project are:
- Drywall Screw Setter – automatically sets the drywall screw the right depth everytime. A 4-pack costs $5.
- Course Thread 1-1/4″ Drywall Screws
- Combination Square
- D. Pencil
- Utility Knife
- Cordless Drill/Driver
- Tape measure
- 12″ Drywall Taping Blade
- 6″ Drywall Taping Blade.
- Drywall Jab Saw
- Drywall Sanding Sponge
- Roll of Self-Stick Fiberglass Drywall Tape. Cost is about $8.
- Drywall Joint Compound. A 1 gallon bucket cost about $6.
- 2ft x 2ft x 1/2in Drywall Repair Panel. Costs about $4 at Home Depot.
A large drop cloth is also needed to keep debris and dust off the floor.
Remove the Damaged Section of Drywall Ceiling
Before you cut out the damaged section of ceiling, know what’s on the other side. Are there electrical wires, plumbing, gas lines, HVAC ducts, wood joists or metal support runners? I knew from looking into the crawlspace above the ceiling that the center of the leak was close to the metal runners for the suspended ceiling. If you can’t see what’s on the other side, first cut an inspection hole in the center of leak with a utility knife.
I began the cut by tapping the point of the drywall jab saw into the ceiling, knowing that I was inside the suspended ceiling metal support runner.
I continued the cut until I was well clear of the water damaged area. You might ask: “How do I know I’m making a straight cut?” because I’ve not marked cut lines on the ceiling with square. Right now it doesn’t matter – I’ll cut out the damaged area first and square up the hole later.
Knowing the leak was just inside the intersection of two suspended ceiling metal runners, I made the 2nd cut in the other direction.
This is the damaged section of ceiling drywall I cut out with the jab saw. Water from the leaky shower drain dripped and splashed creating the hole.
This repair is continued in Part 2.
Hope this helps,
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