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How to Safely Dispose of Drywall With Black Mold (Tips and Resources)

disposing of wet drywall with black mold

How to Dispose of Drywall With Black Mold On It

Leaks happen in a home; it’s a necessary risk of owning property. Water can enter the interior due to missing shingles, removed flashing, pulled away gutters, washed away grade around the foundation, or even just a broken pipe within the walls. While there are a lot of ways to try and prevent the cause, at a certain point it’s time to focus on the cure.

The unfortunate thing about drywall that has received a lot of moisture exposure is that more often than not it needs to be removed and replaced. In a flooded basement, that process might just mean cutting away 16-24” of drywall from the floor up all around the room. When water enters the home from the roof down, full sheets of drywall need to be removed and it’s a much more extensive process.

In this article we’re going to take a look at why mold is something that needs to be dealt with right away and how you can dispose of drywall that has black mold on it.

What’s Wrong With Wet Drywall?

How to Safely Dispose of Drywall With Black Mold

Drywall is made out of gypsum and other additives. That makes for a relatively lightweight building material that is still pretty durable. At the same time, those components also absorb water. Soaked up water provides a perfect haven for mold to grow, and the paper backing of drywall contains cellulose which becomes food for the mold.

Preventing toxic black mold growth and the spread of mold spores is a major reason for removing sheetrock that has experienced water damage, but it’s not the only one. Drywall loses a majority of its structural integrity when it gets wet, which is especially dangerous on a ceiling.

Wet drywall also has to be removed from interior walls too though. Wall cavities simply do not dry unless the sheetrock is taken off and the cavity is aired out. Wet fiberglass insulation batts get heavy, and they’ll start to slump down in the wall cavity creating large pockets of air loss at the top of the wall. This drives up both heating and AC bills.

Is Black Mold That Dangerous?

living in house after mold remediation

The first reason you want to remove drywall that has started to grow black spots on it is because it’s unsightly. It’s nearly impossible to completely ‘clean’ the black mold spots off of drywall, so even after the wall has been repainted those black spots will start to eventually creep through. It’s even worse if you don’t see them though, as that means mold is growing behind the wall.

Of course the main objective of disposing drywall with black mold is to preserve the health and integrity of a home’s air circulation. Young people, those with allergies, and individuals with respiratory illnesses such as asthma will be especially affected by the presence of black mold, or stachybotrys chartarum. They will experience wheezing, a runny nose, irritated eyes, and just an overall unpleasant time.

So if you don’t have allergies or respiratory problems can the mold be left as is? The quick and simple answer to that is, no. Mold doesn’t just simply ‘go away’ and in fact it does the opposite and grows. Your few spots of mold might not be a problem now, but they most certainly will be someday.

Plus, even if a homeowner doesn’t experience an adverse reaction to the mold, it still smells. That odor only increases over time, which does nothing to boost the market value of your property.

Black Mold Removal Process

There is a tried and true method for restoration and cleaning after a home has experienced water damage. See more about the specifics of how to get rid of the drywall further below, but each step has a method to its madness:

  • Remove Standing Water – Before you can begin any repairs or cleanup, the water has to be completely removed from the room(s). This is done for convenience (you don’t want to be slugging stagnant water through the house) as well as safety. Standing water and things like electrical cords do not make a great combination.

  • Cut Away Damaged Material – Hopefully it’s just drywall to be removed, and in a basement that can be as little as 2′ strips from the floor up. If water has been permeating for awhile though, the damaged parts of wall studs need to be cut away and replaced. Same goes for removing all wet pieces or sections of insulation.

  • Air Out the Area – Replacing water damaged drywall is not an afternoon project or even a one-day job. That’s because you’ll want to give wall and ceiling pockets adequate time to fully dry with fans, open windows, air movers, etc.

  • Fix the Problem – The time while the area is drying out provides a perfect opportunity to fix the water source problem. You don’t want to patch things up just to replace materials again soon so take this time to fix broken pipes in the wall, have a sump pump installed, fix or clean gutters,grade the soil away from the foundation, etc.

  • Replace and Repair – Once the area is dried, things can start to be put back together again. Drywall finishing is a process (tape, mud, sanding, mud, sanding, more sanding, paint) so be prepared for a long process.

Related: What to Expect During Mold Remediation

The Drywall Removal Process

There are two main goals when removing and disposing of drywall that contains black mold – safety and prevention of mold spores spreading.

As for safety, before beginning the cleaning process, you’ll want to definitely don some goggles, a face mask (with respirator ideally) and gloves. Tyvek hooded coveralls / disposable hazmat suits can be had for less than $10 at most big box stores for added protection.

To prevent the spreading of spores to other areas of the home, first seal off the room you’re working in with a plastic barrier. You can pump air into the room with an air mover, or open a window but you’ll also want some sort of circulation. 

Once the barrier is installed cut out the moldy drywall pieces and place them in sealed, heavy-duty construction trash bags. Some additional tips include to moisten the moldy pieces with a spray bottle before they are removed to lessen the chance of spores spreading.

Moldy Drywall Disposal Summary

Leaks entering your home are definitely unfortunate, but after it happens you can’t just sit there and sulk. Be safe, prevent mold spore spread, air out the area and starting the cleaning process by replacing everything that was damaged are the basics for this project that really isn’t that bad when you break it down.

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