Author Topic: How high up should I cut this drywall?  (Read 2325 times)

jeromedawg

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How high up should I cut this drywall?
« on: December 03, 2021, 10:41:59 AM »
Was just curious what the best way to go about replacing this section of drywall would be:




It's approx 14" from the floor to the bottom of the window trim. I'm thinking it may not be the best thing to cut flush against the trim but perhaps leave 2-3" below? If this is the case, it seems like cutting to the top of the electrical box cut-outs would make the most sense:



I guess I would just draw a line from the top of each outlet cutout similar to what's pictured and cut from there? That's 11" high btw. I think a single 4x8 panel would be sufficient. In terms of drywall thickness, not sure if I need 1/2 or 5/8 - the other side of this wall is the exterior wall so maybe it needs the 5/8" fire rated drywall?

Sidenote: I'm thinking Kraft/faced R-13 insulation would be sufficient. And face the paper towards the *inside* of the home. I see there's poly/plastic faced insulation but think that might be a bit overkill for this application especially since they've already applied waterproofing from the outside.

Prior owners did a complete hack-job and I think caused more problems doing the way that it was done (you can see the open/exposed joint in the pics - I think this was actually causing/exacerbating the moisture condition in the wall). There's definitely mold in there. I sprayed and wiped out as much as I could but I think I just need to cut that drywall to expose it and get the area dried more. I have a couple desiccants there now and an air purifier running. I just bought a dehumidifier/purifier combo to help draw any excess moisture out - I think there's some residual moisture in the wall and studs. The corner area was probably the worst.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2021, 12:52:55 PM by jeromedawg »

Sibley

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2021, 01:53:20 PM »
I agree, don't go up to the bottom of the trim. Leaving a couple inches of space will let you tape and mud so it looks good. I suck at mudding, so exactly how much space you need will depend on how good you are. The guy who did the best job in my house needed 3 inches minimum to really get it looking good.

JLee

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2021, 02:02:08 PM »
I would be really tempted to run a taller baseboard and call it a day, but I am lazy efficient :P

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2021, 02:02:26 PM »
BTW: The previous owners completely suck. I was trying to get a model # off the baseboard and noticed this:



Notice the timestamp - that shows the date this baseboard was manufactured. Which means they likely did this repair in the past few years. Unless they decided just to replace the baseboard and nothing else. Either way they clearly failed to disclose and IMO lied about the repairs in this area by omitting the information.
When we had the mold inspection done, the inspector pulled the baseboard back to initially uncover the drywall that had been cut and replaced. We inquired with the sellers about this and they played dumb and wrote it off as though they didn't know... or ignored it all together. Super shady. Not sure if there's any recourse for something like that.

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2021, 02:10:33 PM »
I would be really tempted to run a taller baseboard and call it a day, but I am lazy efficient :P

After researching and discussing more with others, there's a theory now that the persistent moisture condition may have actually been caused by the previous owner having that strip of drywall slapped back in there as-is without being taped/jointed/painted over (as vapor barriers). With poor insulation behind the wall + air gaps in the drywall joints, it seemed to have bred the perfect environment for condensation to form inside the wall. The warm air inside was looking for a route to escape and found its way through the gap in the drywall repair then was met with the persistent cold/stale air from the outside so it likely just settle into the fiberglass and drywall in that cavity. I took paper towels/bleach and wiped up inside the cavity and there was lots of black-looking mold (this is why I want to cut that section of wall out and just do it over... this time properly filling and taping the joints and painting over as well. I don't want to do another hack-job that results in more problems that were caused by doing things half-assed.

My guess as to what happened was that there was water intrusion either noticeable on the walls or with puddles seeping in from that area of the home in the past few years. It probably happened after a heavy rain + who knows how many years of the weep screed being covered up like that.
Previous Owner: Oh noes, what do we do now?! Let's call in Wilmer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP30okjpCko) and have him do a cheap fix. He'll cut 3" of the wet drywall and pull out the wet insulation then cram some new insulation in but leave the original stuff there and screw on a new piece of drywall. Cover it all up with baseboard, caulk, and everything is back to perfect again! Wait, how did this happen in the first place? It was just the heavy rain and who cares cause it's fixed now!
« Last Edit: December 03, 2021, 02:16:01 PM by jeromedawg »

JLee

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2021, 02:46:46 PM »
I would be really tempted to run a taller baseboard and call it a day, but I am lazy efficient :P

After researching and discussing more with others, there's a theory now that the persistent moisture condition may have actually been caused by the previous owner having that strip of drywall slapped back in there as-is without being taped/jointed/painted over (as vapor barriers). With poor insulation behind the wall + air gaps in the drywall joints, it seemed to have bred the perfect environment for condensation to form inside the wall. The warm air inside was looking for a route to escape and found its way through the gap in the drywall repair then was met with the persistent cold/stale air from the outside so it likely just settle into the fiberglass and drywall in that cavity. I took paper towels/bleach and wiped up inside the cavity and there was lots of black-looking mold (this is why I want to cut that section of wall out and just do it over... this time properly filling and taping the joints and painting over as well. I don't want to do another hack-job that results in more problems that were caused by doing things half-assed.

My guess as to what happened was that there was water intrusion either noticeable on the walls or with puddles seeping in from that area of the home in the past few years. It probably happened after a heavy rain + who knows how many years of the weep screed being covered up like that.
Previous Owner: Oh noes, what do we do now?! Let's call in Wilmer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP30okjpCko) and have him do a cheap fix. He'll cut 3" of the wet drywall and pull out the wet insulation then cram some new insulation in but leave the original stuff there and screw on a new piece of drywall. Cover it all up with baseboard, caulk, and everything is back to perfect again! Wait, how did this happen in the first place? It was just the heavy rain and who cares cause it's fixed now!

Walls are not airtight -- typically there's a small drywall gap at the floor that is covered by trim.  I suspect you're right that there was significant water intrusion at some point in the recent past-- has the source of water been identified?

Edit: I am wrong, seems there is an airtight methodology that some people use: https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/question/is-the-airtight-drywall-approach-obsolete
« Last Edit: December 03, 2021, 04:31:15 PM by JLee »

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2021, 03:13:17 PM »
I would be really tempted to run a taller baseboard and call it a day, but I am lazy efficient :P

After researching and discussing more with others, there's a theory now that the persistent moisture condition may have actually been caused by the previous owner having that strip of drywall slapped back in there as-is without being taped/jointed/painted over (as vapor barriers). With poor insulation behind the wall + air gaps in the drywall joints, it seemed to have bred the perfect environment for condensation to form inside the wall. The warm air inside was looking for a route to escape and found its way through the gap in the drywall repair then was met with the persistent cold/stale air from the outside so it likely just settle into the fiberglass and drywall in that cavity. I took paper towels/bleach and wiped up inside the cavity and there was lots of black-looking mold (this is why I want to cut that section of wall out and just do it over... this time properly filling and taping the joints and painting over as well. I don't want to do another hack-job that results in more problems that were caused by doing things half-assed.

My guess as to what happened was that there was water intrusion either noticeable on the walls or with puddles seeping in from that area of the home in the past few years. It probably happened after a heavy rain + who knows how many years of the weep screed being covered up like that.
Previous Owner: Oh noes, what do we do now?! Let's call in Wilmer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP30okjpCko) and have him do a cheap fix. He'll cut 3" of the wet drywall and pull out the wet insulation then cram some new insulation in but leave the original stuff there and screw on a new piece of drywall. Cover it all up with baseboard, caulk, and everything is back to perfect again! Wait, how did this happen in the first place? It was just the heavy rain and who cares cause it's fixed now!

Walls are not airtight -- typically there's a small drywall gap at the floor that is covered by trim.  I suspect you're right that there was significant water intrusion at some point in the recent past-- has the source of water been identified?

It was probably a combination of poor insulation, too much cold outside air getting in and that *additional* space/gap from when they did the original hack-job of a repair. I think the vapor barriers are meant to minimize air intrusion as much as possible but to also not let so much air in that would cause a condition similar to this one.

We pulled the dirt back from the outside wall and had the entire damaged weep screed torn out and the wall waterproofed, and weep screed placed higher up before they re-patched everything. So in terms of anything getting in from the outside, it should be remediated at this point in time. But even after that (it has been about two weeks now), when I put my moisture meter up against the drywall in a few spots, it registers higher percentages of moisture (even with the probes). So I think this is residual water that has is 'trapped' in there somehow or there's some kind of issue with condensation maybe from the old insulation that's in there too. There should be no other sources of water at this point - no pipes or anything. And it hasn't rained. One thing about this side of the house is that it doesn't see a whole lot of sunlight, so I think when it gets wet in this area it tends to stay wet longer. I purchased a small dehumidifier/air purifier so plan to leave the frames exposed while running that to try to draw out more moisture. I'm suspecting there's some residual moisture in the wood too.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2021, 03:15:09 PM by jeromedawg »

AccidentialMustache

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2021, 05:01:44 PM »
If you cut just above the outlet, mudding that area flat will be a pain in the rear and hard to get correct. Similar to just below, which is what we did, because we didn't want to mess with the whole house vac outlet next to it. Not that you can't do it, but go in knowing your future self will regret.

Paper Chaser

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2021, 05:30:53 PM »
I'd pull the window trim and go all the way up to the bottom of the window.
- It would let you confirm the window is well sealed/ not leaking (is the moisture the worst under the window?)
- It would allow you to easily replace all of the insulation rather than bits and pieces
- It would eliminate a bunch of drywall finishing. It's a lot easier for most people to reinstall a couple trim pieces than seamlessly finishing a long drywall seam. You'd only have to worry about the vertical corner and the fairly short vertical cuts on each end instead of 1 lengthy horizontal seam
« Last Edit: December 03, 2021, 05:46:31 PM by Paper Chaser »

Dicey

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2021, 05:41:52 PM »
I'd pull the window trim and go all the way up to the bottom of the window. It would let you confirm the window is well sealed/ not leaking and It would eliminate a bunch of drywall finishing. It's a lot easier for most people to reinstall a couple trim pieces than seamlessly finishing a long drywall seam.
+1

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2021, 10:56:11 PM »
I'd pull the window trim and go all the way up to the bottom of the window.
- It would let you confirm the window is well sealed/ not leaking (is the moisture the worst under the window?)
- It would allow you to easily replace all of the insulation rather than bits and pieces
- It would eliminate a bunch of drywall finishing. It's a lot easier for most people to reinstall a couple trim pieces than seamlessly finishing a long drywall seam. You'd only have to worry about the vertical corner and the fairly short vertical cuts on each end instead of 1 lengthy horizontal seam

The trim there is for the plantation shutters. There's a ledge where the window sits 'recessed' towards the outside edge:




With removal of anything related to windows, shutters, etc, it starts getting a little more intimidating and over my head. I'm beginning to wonder if I should maybe consider hiring this work out if we're going talking about expanding the scope. What about the sides around the windows? Do I rip that portion out as well extended to the same height as the bottom of the window?



The red line would be slightly higher of course - I forgot to take the trim into account. I don't even know how the plantation shutter frame is installed at this point... I'm wondering if those side trims are the type where you pull the strip out to expose the screws. If so, I'm afraid of damaging the trim trying to pry it out with a paint scraper. Not quite sure where to start with removing these frames and couldn't find anything on Youtube but I may not be searching for the correct term(s)
« Last Edit: December 03, 2021, 11:31:28 PM by jeromedawg »

sonofsven

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2021, 09:41:36 AM »
The problem with replacing small sections is the joint you've created between the new and old DW; they are hard to do well, and generally take a good 12 to 16 inches for the tape and mud, on each side of the joint.
It's hard to do a good job finishing a joint through electrical boxes. If you cut it at the lower corner of the window it will be difficult to finish the butt joint in the area below the corner because of the 12-16" noted above.  Moving the cut up from the corner a foot or two would be better. But still difficult to finish well. Not impossible.

You'll notice on new sheets of drywall the long edges (8' on a standard sheet) are less thick than the 4' edges; this is so when you butt sheets together there's space for the tape and the initial mud covering the tape, the additional mud is feathered out so the long joint is the easiest to finish, the shorter 4' joints need twice as much (at least) mud coverage to feather out nicely, so you want to avoid these butt joints when possible.

Option 1: cut the existing approx 2' above the lower corner of the window and replace the DW below with a new sheet long enough to go all the way from the left side to the right, so either a 10 or 12' sheet, so no vertical butt seams. The horizontal seam would at least have the thinner section on the new DW.

Option 2: re-do the entire wall. As a professional I would lean towards this. When in doubt, rip it out.

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2021, 11:17:03 AM »
The problem with replacing small sections is the joint you've created between the new and old DW; they are hard to do well, and generally take a good 12 to 16 inches for the tape and mud, on each side of the joint.
It's hard to do a good job finishing a joint through electrical boxes. If you cut it at the lower corner of the window it will be difficult to finish the butt joint in the area below the corner because of the 12-16" noted above.  Moving the cut up from the corner a foot or two would be better. But still difficult to finish well. Not impossible.

You'll notice on new sheets of drywall the long edges (8' on a standard sheet) are less thick than the 4' edges; this is so when you butt sheets together there's space for the tape and the initial mud covering the tape, the additional mud is feathered out so the long joint is the easiest to finish, the shorter 4' joints need twice as much (at least) mud coverage to feather out nicely, so you want to avoid these butt joints when possible.

Option 1: cut the existing approx 2' above the lower corner of the window and replace the DW below with a new sheet long enough to go all the way from the left side to the right, so either a 10 or 12' sheet, so no vertical butt seams. The horizontal seam would at least have the thinner section on the new DW.

Option 2: re-do the entire wall. As a professional I would lean towards this. When in doubt, rip it out.

So for option 1 you would still suggest removing the window trim right? I think the height from the floor to the sill is approx 2' anyway. The entire length of this wall is approx 155-1/2" across, so it's going to exceed even a 12' sheet.

With option 2 are you saying to re-do the entire wall top to bottom including the drywall that's *above* the windows too? As well as the entire wall on the right of the window, from floor to ceiling?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2021, 11:19:07 AM by jeromedawg »

sonofsven

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2021, 12:24:23 PM »
The problem with replacing small sections is the joint you've created between the new and old DW; they are hard to do well, and generally take a good 12 to 16 inches for the tape and mud, on each side of the joint.
It's hard to do a good job finishing a joint through electrical boxes. If you cut it at the lower corner of the window it will be difficult to finish the butt joint in the area below the corner because of the 12-16" noted above.  Moving the cut up from the corner a foot or two would be better. But still difficult to finish well. Not impossible.

You'll notice on new sheets of drywall the long edges (8' on a standard sheet) are less thick than the 4' edges; this is so when you butt sheets together there's space for the tape and the initial mud covering the tape, the additional mud is feathered out so the long joint is the easiest to finish, the shorter 4' joints need twice as much (at least) mud coverage to feather out nicely, so you want to avoid these butt joints when possible.

Option 1: cut the existing approx 2' above the lower corner of the window and replace the DW below with a new sheet long enough to go all the way from the left side to the right, so either a 10 or 12' sheet, so no vertical butt seams. The horizontal seam would at least have the thinner section on the new DW.

Option 2: re-do the entire wall. As a professional I would lean towards this. When in doubt, rip it out.

So for option 1 you would still suggest removing the window trim right? I think the height from the floor to the sill is approx 2' anyway. The entire length of this wall is approx 155-1/2" across, so it's going to exceed even a 12' sheet.

With option 2 are you saying to re-do the entire wall top to bottom including the drywall that's *above* the windows too? As well as the entire wall on the right of the window, from floor to ceiling?

I'm going to change my answer out of respect for the DIY focus of the thread.
Cut the drywall right through the middle of the boxes  (approx).
Turn off the power and remove the outlets and wire nut the wires, take a picture of the back if you won't remember how to re-wire them.
Install long pieces of drywall, tape, mud, and sand. You'll be able to feather the mud from the bottom of the window to the floor if needed.
Also, if the boxes get mostly filled with mud as you finish over them that's ok, it's normal, just cut it out when done. Keeping the wires pushed back in the box of course.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2021, 12:26:41 PM by sonofsven »

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2021, 06:04:12 PM »
The problem with replacing small sections is the joint you've created between the new and old DW; they are hard to do well, and generally take a good 12 to 16 inches for the tape and mud, on each side of the joint.
It's hard to do a good job finishing a joint through electrical boxes. If you cut it at the lower corner of the window it will be difficult to finish the butt joint in the area below the corner because of the 12-16" noted above.  Moving the cut up from the corner a foot or two would be better. But still difficult to finish well. Not impossible.

You'll notice on new sheets of drywall the long edges (8' on a standard sheet) are less thick than the 4' edges; this is so when you butt sheets together there's space for the tape and the initial mud covering the tape, the additional mud is feathered out so the long joint is the easiest to finish, the shorter 4' joints need twice as much (at least) mud coverage to feather out nicely, so you want to avoid these butt joints when possible.

Option 1: cut the existing approx 2' above the lower corner of the window and replace the DW below with a new sheet long enough to go all the way from the left side to the right, so either a 10 or 12' sheet, so no vertical butt seams. The horizontal seam would at least have the thinner section on the new DW.

Option 2: re-do the entire wall. As a professional I would lean towards this. When in doubt, rip it out.

So for option 1 you would still suggest removing the window trim right? I think the height from the floor to the sill is approx 2' anyway. The entire length of this wall is approx 155-1/2" across, so it's going to exceed even a 12' sheet.

With option 2 are you saying to re-do the entire wall top to bottom including the drywall that's *above* the windows too? As well as the entire wall on the right of the window, from floor to ceiling?

I'm going to change my answer out of respect for the DIY focus of the thread.
Cut the drywall right through the middle of the boxes  (approx).
Turn off the power and remove the outlets and wire nut the wires, take a picture of the back if you won't remember how to re-wire them.
Install long pieces of drywall, tape, mud, and sand. You'll be able to feather the mud from the bottom of the window to the floor if needed.
Also, if the boxes get mostly filled with mud as you finish over them that's ok, it's normal, just cut it out when done. Keeping the wires pushed back in the box of course.

Something like this?



Thinking about it more, I may not go the entire length of the wall after all. Really the most impacted area is everything from the corner to the outlet. The adjacent wall I may want to cut a smaller patch from just for exploratory purposes. But pretty most if not all the mold (at least that I'm aware of) seems to have been confined to this area. It seems like it might be a bit unnecessary/overkill to do the entire length of the wall if I don't think anything is wrong. At the same time, the fact that they removed that entire length and installed new strips of drywall is also concerning. I wonder if perhaps I should consider at least replacing the shorter strip of drywall that they replaced and then apply joint compound + tape so it's more 'properly' done. So this instead?:
« Last Edit: December 04, 2021, 06:10:13 PM by jeromedawg »

Paper Chaser

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2021, 06:44:27 AM »
The fact that the area with the most moisture damage is directly beneath a large window stands out to me. It could just be coincidence, but if you're going to be redoing drywall anyway I'd really want a good look at the window installation to be sure it's not contributing to the moisture issue before closing it all back up.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2021, 08:16:50 AM »
The fact that the area with the most moisture damage is directly beneath a large window stands out to me. It could just be coincidence, but if you're going to be redoing drywall anyway I'd really want a good look at the window installation to be sure it's not contributing to the moisture issue before closing it all back up.

Yeah, I bet the window was/is not properly flashed.  We are building a house by ourselves and there is a lot more that goes into making a good, leakproof window install that I had originally realized.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2021, 08:47:09 AM »
If it were just replacing drywall I would either keep it behind the baseboards or take it all the way up to the windows (and end behind the trim). Failing that I would run the new seam first with at least several inches or clearance to the trim to allow you to work and second away from the outlet box I find working around those difficult and my experience is cutouts can be a little funky if you built up/ taper mud around them.

Since it is at least the insulation I would replace the entire bat and not have a horizontal seam. That likely means taking the drywall off to the window.

Because there is mold I would take drywall off until you have uncovered all of the mold and addressed it.

Since there is moisture and it could have been occurring for an extended period there could be rot. I would replace any rot that is more than superficial and treat everything else with something like Bora-care. That is going to mean taking the drywall off the entire height of the framing that needs to be replace. If there is moisture and rot it could extend to the exterior sheathing.

That's the long winded way of saying you should open the wall enough to find the extent of the problem and fix it correctly.

Mold and/or rot are a problem, but ultimately they are a symptom of excessive moisture. It could be condensation from air leakage, it could be a flashing failure around the windows, it could weep screed problem, it could a grading and drainage problem, a gutter problem, or even a roofing problem. My experience with water intrusion is mixed, it either appears right where it gets in or can travel a long distance before it is notice.


scottish

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2021, 10:17:27 AM »
Up here, you'd need a vapor barrier between the studs and the new drywall - otherwise you'd get condensation inside the wall in cold weather.   

I agree with the others about minimizing drywall joints under the window on the wall.    They'll be a pain.    Removing the casing around the window should be easy-peasy.

In the past I've hired a drywaller to come in and just tape the joints.    It was less hassle and a lot less dusty than doing it myself.   He just stopped by on the way home for 3 or 4 days and it was all done.

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2021, 10:29:55 AM »
 
The fact that the area with the most moisture damage is directly beneath a large window stands out to me. It could just be coincidence, but if you're going to be redoing drywall anyway I'd really want a good look at the window installation to be sure it's not contributing to the moisture issue before closing it all back up.

The fact that the area with the most moisture damage is directly beneath a large window stands out to me. It could just be coincidence, but if you're going to be redoing drywall anyway I'd really want a good look at the window installation to be sure it's not contributing to the moisture issue before closing it all back up.

Yeah, I bet the window was/is not properly flashed.  We are building a house by ourselves and there is a lot more that goes into making a good, leakproof window install that I had originally realized.

How can you definitively tell this? Assuming I open up more of the drywall, what am I looking for here? And if it turns out to be the case that it wasn't actually sealed properly, what would the steps be for remediating it? EDIT: I put my camera scope up there from the section of opened drywall looking straight up - there's a 2x4 there which I'm guessing is the bottom framing of the window. Not sure if any of this would be indicative of whether or not there's flashing. NOTE: I think the black paper sheeting there might be from when they did the weep screed repair but I need to double-check:

Corner of the stud framing above the electric box:


If it were just replacing drywall I would either keep it behind the baseboards or take it all the way up to the windows (and end behind the trim). Failing that I would run the new seam first with at least several inches or clearance to the trim to allow you to work and second away from the outlet box I find working around those difficult and my experience is cutouts can be a little funky if you built up/ taper mud around them.

Since it is at least the insulation I would replace the entire bat and not have a horizontal seam. That likely means taking the drywall off to the window.

Because there is mold I would take drywall off until you have uncovered all of the mold and addressed it.

Since there is moisture and it could have been occurring for an extended period there could be rot. I would replace any rot that is more than superficial and treat everything else with something like Bora-care. That is going to mean taking the drywall off the entire height of the framing that needs to be replace. If there is moisture and rot it could extend to the exterior sheathing.

That's the long winded way of saying you should open the wall enough to find the extent of the problem and fix it correctly.

Mold and/or rot are a problem, but ultimately they are a symptom of excessive moisture. It could be condensation from air leakage, it could be a flashing failure around the windows, it could weep screed problem, it could a grading and drainage problem, a gutter problem, or even a roofing problem. My experience with water intrusion is mixed, it either appears right where it gets in or can travel a long distance before it is notice.



At this point, I'm wondering if I should just hire this work out, especially if it involves the window potentially not being flashed properly.

Up here, you'd need a vapor barrier between the studs and the new drywall - otherwise you'd get condensation inside the wall in cold weather.   

I agree with the others about minimizing drywall joints under the window on the wall.    They'll be a pain.    Removing the casing around the window should be easy-peasy.

In the past I've hired a drywaller to come in and just tape the joints.    It was less hassle and a lot less dusty than doing it myself.   He just stopped by on the way home for 3 or 4 days and it was all done.

How would you go about starting to remove the casing if you can't locate the screws or nails holding it in place? If it's one of those embedded "trim strips" that is covering the screws, I'm not quite sure how to remove that without damaging the trim either. As far as vapor barrier, would that include new faced insulation where the paper-side is facing the interior of the home? Or would I want to go with poly/plastic-covered insulation vs the Kraft/paper-faced insulation? This is SoCal, so it typically doesn't get that cold around here. That said, this impacted part of the house doesn't see nearly as much sun compared to other parts of the house.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2021, 10:54:28 AM by jeromedawg »

Paper Chaser

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2021, 12:23:15 PM »
Vapor barrier is climate dependent. For So Cal, it's probably mild enough that it's not critical. A water repelling moisture barrier like Tyvek on the outside of your wall seems more important to me, but cannot be easily added without removing siding. What material is on the outside of your home?

Flashing goes on the outside of the window, between the window sash and whatever exterior material you have. It directs water away from and around the gap between the window and the wood framing. When properly flashed, it should be impossible for rain water to get into that joint.

If the moisture issue is caused by something like grading on the outside of the wall, Id expect to see the most water damage at the bottom of the wall, and it would gradually improve as you move up the wall. If the window is contributing to the issue, you'll see signs of moisture directly underneath the base of the window as well (I believe your pics show this scenario, with moisture signs right at the base of the window).

If I'm understanding the pics, there's evidence of moisture right under the window. I'd say it's probably time to call a pro window installer and make sure that it's properly installed/flashed. Then You can deal with finishing the inside, but I'm assuming all of the drywall under the window will need to be replaced.


« Last Edit: December 05, 2021, 12:28:52 PM by Paper Chaser »

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2021, 02:34:26 PM »
Vapor barrier is climate dependent. For So Cal, it's probably mild enough that it's not critical. A water repelling moisture barrier like Tyvek on the outside of your wall seems more important to me, but cannot be easily added without removing siding. What material is on the outside of your home?

Flashing goes on the outside of the window, between the window sash and whatever exterior material you have. It directs water away from and around the gap between the window and the wood framing. When properly flashed, it should be impossible for rain water to get into that joint.

If the moisture issue is caused by something like grading on the outside of the wall, Id expect to see the most water damage at the bottom of the wall, and it would gradually improve as you move up the wall. If the window is contributing to the issue, you'll see signs of moisture directly underneath the base of the window as well (I believe your pics show this scenario, with moisture signs right at the base of the window).

If I'm understanding the pics, there's evidence of moisture right under the window. I'd say it's probably time to call a pro window installer and make sure that it's properly installed/flashed. Then You can deal with finishing the inside, but I'm assuming all of the drywall under the window will need to be replaced.

It's very strange. There are other places also under the window which aren't getting any moisture readings at all. When I put my hand inside to feel the areas that are registering moisture, I don't really feel anything wet. The fiberglass insulation feels dry as well. So I'm a bit confused as to what's going on...

Btw the outside is stucco and there's also an overhang with a gutter so there should be minimal to nil water getting to the window to begin with as far as rain is concerned.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2021, 03:33:59 PM by jeromedawg »

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2021, 02:49:29 PM »
The fact that the area with the most moisture damage is directly beneath a large window stands out to me. It could just be coincidence, but if you're going to be redoing drywall anyway I'd really want a good look at the window installation to be sure it's not contributing to the moisture issue before closing it all back up.

This.
Find out exactly what is causing the moisture problem before any further repairs are undertaken.
The recent dodgy internal drywall repairs are not causing the problem, they were just masking the real problem.

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2021, 09:43:56 PM »
The fact that the area with the most moisture damage is directly beneath a large window stands out to me. It could just be coincidence, but if you're going to be redoing drywall anyway I'd really want a good look at the window installation to be sure it's not contributing to the moisture issue before closing it all back up.

This.
Find out exactly what is causing the moisture problem before any further repairs are undertaken.
The recent dodgy internal drywall repairs are not causing the problem, they were just masking the real problem.

I don't know what else the problem could be here... It's very strange, as I mentioned above, I put my hand up and felt the drywall where the moisture meter says there's moisture (I'm using both the two sharp metal probes as well as the surface reading as it's a 2-in-1 unit). In some places the surface reading goes as high as 30-40% and when I probe those spots with the two points, it beeps at right around 18%. The old yellow insulation and paper on the drywall in there doesn't feel wet at all though. I do have one of those dessicant water collection boxes (https://www.amazon.com/pack-MOISTURE-ELIMINATOR-Moisture-Absorbers/dp/B01LM13688) and it has been collecting water but I'm wondering if that's because I currently have that section of the drywall off and some of the insulation pulled back/removed. Not *all* of the areas under the windows are registering this high of percentages of moisture too. It can be 18% in one spot and literally 4-6" right next to it it's lower to 0%. Really strange. I'm very apprehensive about cutting more drywall at this point just because I know my wife's already stressed about all this and the current mess/hole in the wall that's there :T

PMJL34

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2021, 10:02:44 PM »
Jerome,

You've received excellent advice, but it is clear most respondents aren't familiar with SoCal climate/buildings. They also don't have all the facts or the history on why there was moisture to begin with. 

In the photos you took, I don't see any mold. There's a tiny bit of old rot/discoloration, but it's not of concern. I don't even see anything that would justify you cutting more drywall. 

Take a deep breath, you are all good. The water problem was most likely 100% from the stupid sprinklers aimed at the exterior of your house. Now that it's fixed, you are fine. Just stuff insulation in the best you can and put drywall where there was none. Practice your mudding and put the base trim back. Caulk any gaps and paint it. All done. Monitor it for a little while, but my bet is that you will have zero problems.

Best of luck! 

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2021, 11:13:07 PM »
Jerome,

You've received excellent advice, but it is clear most respondents aren't familiar with SoCal climate/buildings. They also don't have all the facts or the history on why there was moisture to begin with. 

In the photos you took, I don't see any mold. There's a tiny bit of old rot/discoloration, but it's not of concern. I don't even see anything that would justify you cutting more drywall. 

Take a deep breath, you are all good. The water problem was most likely 100% from the stupid sprinklers aimed at the exterior of your house. Now that it's fixed, you are fine. Just stuff insulation in the best you can and put drywall where there was none. Practice your mudding and put the base trim back. Caulk any gaps and paint it. All done. Monitor it for a little while, but my bet is that you will have zero problems.

Best of luck!

There was definitely some mold on the baseboard and portion of drywall that I removed, as well as on some of the drywall in the exposed cavity. Honestly, at this point I don't know what other factors have contributed to the moisture but it seems like it could be more than just the fact that the weep screed was covered + the irrigation running in that area. I don't think I mentioned this but the sprinkler that was right up against the house, they had done something to (or maybe it was just that way from being broken) where water was spraying out at a very low pressure/rate so it a very low pressure stream spraying away from the house. I checked this when I was trying to figure out the irrigation zones that had been setup. But at this point, I've disabled all that anyway and may consider just ripping some of those lines out because it's interfering with the drainage.

Anyway, my point is that I'm not convinced it's fixed. I'm afraid that if I proceed with replacing the drywall repair I exposed and then mudding/taping it, the moisture meter will continue to pickup whatever residual moisture it's picking up. *That's* the part that's concerning to me at the moment. It feels like a "ghost in the room" kind of problem... I just don't want this to be one of those hidden problems that becomes a much bigger problem later down the road or worse yet when we sell later on and that home inspector calls out the very same problem we found with a "wet wall"
« Last Edit: December 05, 2021, 11:14:55 PM by jeromedawg »

lthenderson

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #26 on: December 06, 2021, 08:46:18 AM »
I have missed the discussion of why you are digging into this area in the first place but it seems as if you feel there is/was a moisture issue. My thoughts are this. Drywall, tape and mud are extremely cheap. So is trim. For projects like this, the labor or time spent doing it is what costs the most. If it were me, I would just remove all the trim and if it breaks, so be it. I would also remove the drywall to the corners of other walls. This allows you to see the entire area and correct any deficiencies or problems and allows you to modernize things, perhaps add some USB charging ports for electronics or gadgets. Once you have everything fixed or updated to where you like it, you are probably talking about maybe $200 in materials to get everything back to where it was. It would take you or someone you hire, about the same amount of time to drywall and trim the entire wall as it would doing a partial wall and working around trim and thus no real cost savings to doing a partial gut. Most importantly, you would now know that you should never have to do this wall ever again and be confident that you know what caused the moisture issue and it is solved.

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #27 on: December 06, 2021, 09:18:55 AM »
I have missed the discussion of why you are digging into this area in the first place but it seems as if you feel there is/was a moisture issue. My thoughts are this. Drywall, tape and mud are extremely cheap. So is trim. For projects like this, the labor or time spent doing it is what costs the most. If it were me, I would just remove all the trim and if it breaks, so be it. I would also remove the drywall to the corners of other walls. This allows you to see the entire area and correct any deficiencies or problems and allows you to modernize things, perhaps add some USB charging ports for electronics or gadgets. Once you have everything fixed or updated to where you like it, you are probably talking about maybe $200 in materials to get everything back to where it was. It would take you or someone you hire, about the same amount of time to drywall and trim the entire wall as it would doing a partial wall and working around trim and thus no real cost savings to doing a partial gut. Most importantly, you would now know that you should never have to do this wall ever again and be confident that you know what caused the moisture issue and it is solved.

The reason this came up is because during our home inspection, this area was called out for having high moisture in the wall. We had a mold test done and they found high levels of mold in the wall cavity as well. It was originally thought that the wet wall condition was due to the poor exterior maintenance (weep screed completely covered by dirt). We remediated the outside recently where they removed the old weep screed/wiring/sheathing and exposed the studs so you could basically see inside (insulation and drywall of the interior) before installing the new weep screed and waterproofing the exterior. Now that this has been completed, we thought that the moisture issue would have been resolved on its own but apparently it's not. Either way, we were anticipating the next phase to be cutting some amount of drywall and replacing at least the drywall that was impacted by moisture/mold. In a prior thread, it was suggested that I do some DIY 'exploratory' investigation as opposed to calling in a water remediation/damage restoration company. On that note: if we were to hire a remediation company to come out they would only do the remediation and not the restoration. We would then have to find another contractor to do the restoration work. I suppose we could still call in the remediation company to tape and seal off the area, and do the full remediation (presumably this would also get us closer to determining the source of the problem) and then maybe I can attempt DIYing the restoration if I feel up to it... *shrug*

Are you suggesting to remove *all* the drywall on this wall from floor to ceiling? In this room of the house, the ceiling is high (vaulted ceiling - I would estimate at least 15' or more), so I think it might be even more labor intensive (having to lift drywall and work on ladders) as far as renovating the areas higher up. As for the trim there are two concerns: 1) I don't know who the manufacturer is of these shutters to even match the trim assuming I were to break it. I guess I can try to look for labels but I haven't seen any thus far and 2) if I haven't already turned this place into a warzone, removing those big plantation shutters + trims is just going to make it worse. I'll prob have to buy those temporary shades to hang and we'll be heading out of town in couple weeks to visit my family so won't even be around for a couple weeks. I may just wait until we're back before continuing... either that or having someone else do this. I just don't know what kind of contractor would do this and if there's someone specialized who I should look for (someone who specializes in insulation, window flashings, and drywall/plaster repairs)

One more thing to note: both my kids are currently sick - I *think* they were sick before I started opening the wall and they may have just passed it to one another, but now we're starting to get paranoid because last night my wife started randomly getting the itches and has small amounts of rashes and hives all over her body. She just asked me if it's because of the wall being opened up. I really hope I didn't open a can of worms with all this. I think I just wanted to figure out what was going on with that area because it has been bothering me so much. The fact that I still don't know is haunting me, and now the thought of potentially making my family sick from it is starting to weigh on me. I personally haven't had any issues myself and I've been going back and forth to that area. But who knows... they may be more sensitive or have those allergies.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2021, 10:42:58 AM by jeromedawg »

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #28 on: December 06, 2021, 02:17:11 PM »
I have the area tented right now with a tarp but not 100% sealed off:



Got the dehumidifier earlier and have had it running for over an hour now and it already started drawing water out of the air. But I was running it before tenting it so it may have drawn moisture from the larger space. Now that it's tented, it should be interesting seeing how much gets drawn out from this confined area. As of right now, the plan is going to be to let this thing run and to try to draw any/all moisture out of this wall. I'll stop running the dehumidifier once that's done and then monitor the wall for another several days after to see if there's some sort of 'moisture leak' - if not, then that should be enough to proceed to reinstalling the drywall where it was originally cut but this time mudding and taping it before reinstalling the baseboard. If this is really just a problem of residual moisture trapped inside the walls, which I hope it is (rather than a much bigger problem) then I will feel more comfortable fixing or improving what was already done without making additional drywall cuts. I'd really prefer not to have to remove the entire shutter frame/trim, potentially damaging more drywall in the process, as well as replacing *more* drywall thereby expanding the scope of this project to something a lot larger.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2021, 02:19:25 PM by jeromedawg »

lthenderson

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #29 on: December 06, 2021, 03:16:35 PM »
Are you suggesting to remove *all* the drywall on this wall from floor to ceiling? In this room of the house, the ceiling is high (vaulted ceiling - I would estimate at least 15' or more), so I think it might be even more labor intensive (having to lift drywall and work on ladders) as far as renovating the areas higher up.

I was but I was assuming a standard flat ceiling. I wouldn't for a wall that is part of the vaulted ceiling, i.e. isn't rectangular. You are right that putting drywall up high and cutting it diagonal has more costs associated with it both in material and labor. In that case, I would just probably make sure I expose around the windows to make sure you diagnose and correct any leak issues and without seeing what is causing them for sure, everything is just a shot in the dark.

I have plantation shutters on several windows in my house but they are all inset to an existing window and existing trim. Based upon your hesitancy, I looked again at the pictures and it appears that the trim is part of the plantation shutter meant to overlay the wall. In that case, it is probably in your best interest to preserve the trim. If I were assigned the task, I would do a careful inspection looking for fastener holes. If they are too well disguised, you might only find them by use of a magnet. And if they are that well disguised, you may well have problems removing the shutters and saving them.
 
But in my opinion, until you know what the problem is causing the moisture, the trim on those shutters is only going to get in the way and cover up the very area you need to look at, i.e. where the window frame meets the rough in stud opening. If the window flashing is causing the leak, this is where it will be occurring and any trim around your shutters will just be covering this area up. Also, if you cut drywall short of the trim, you will most likely end up with a weak spot in the drywall where two seams meet but with no support for the 16" stud bay. You can fix this, but it requires cutting in additional blocking and fastening it in to give you something to fasten too. Also like others mentioned, it is much harder to disguise a joint if you don't have room on both sides to feather things out.

A good compromise would be to just keep removing small amounts of drywall until you find the problem. You may get lucky and find it early on in the process but I usually find the flashing problems around windows causing leaks generally start along the top of the window where water sits for longer periods of time and then wick down along the sides and below.

Dealing with drywall and fiberglass insulation is a pain when living in the same area and can cause irritants. One of the things I invested in early on for these sorts of projects is by using the ZipWall system. They are essentially expandable length poles with springs in them that can pinch a piece of plastic between the ceiling and the floor to contain all the dust and allergens. You can get a basic system on Amazon for $160 but after the initial investment, you can attach any sheet plastic too them. They even come with zipper kits to create doorways so you can enter and leave them without dismantling. Granted you have a vaulted ceiling which makes it a bit harder. I think by default the poles and plastic with the kit are only for 8 and 10 feet ceilings. But it would be fairly easy to cobble up a temporary knee wall at the base to take up some of the extra space. I have always lived in the houses I'm remodeling and so I typically use the ZipWall system to close off a room especially when there aren't doors like between say a dining room and a kitchen area. It does wonder with controlling dust in the rest of the house.

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #30 on: December 06, 2021, 03:31:40 PM »
Are you suggesting to remove *all* the drywall on this wall from floor to ceiling? In this room of the house, the ceiling is high (vaulted ceiling - I would estimate at least 15' or more), so I think it might be even more labor intensive (having to lift drywall and work on ladders) as far as renovating the areas higher up.

I was but I was assuming a standard flat ceiling. I wouldn't for a wall that is part of the vaulted ceiling, i.e. isn't rectangular. You are right that putting drywall up high and cutting it diagonal has more costs associated with it both in material and labor. In that case, I would just probably make sure I expose around the windows to make sure you diagnose and correct any leak issues and without seeing what is causing them for sure, everything is just a shot in the dark.

I have plantation shutters on several windows in my house but they are all inset to an existing window and existing trim. Based upon your hesitancy, I looked again at the pictures and it appears that the trim is part of the plantation shutter meant to overlay the wall. In that case, it is probably in your best interest to preserve the trim. If I were assigned the task, I would do a careful inspection looking for fastener holes. If they are too well disguised, you might only find them by use of a magnet. And if they are that well disguised, you may well have problems removing the shutters and saving them.
 
But in my opinion, until you know what the problem is causing the moisture, the trim on those shutters is only going to get in the way and cover up the very area you need to look at, i.e. where the window frame meets the rough in stud opening. If the window flashing is causing the leak, this is where it will be occurring and any trim around your shutters will just be covering this area up. Also, if you cut drywall short of the trim, you will most likely end up with a weak spot in the drywall where two seams meet but with no support for the 16" stud bay. You can fix this, but it requires cutting in additional blocking and fastening it in to give you something to fasten too. Also like others mentioned, it is much harder to disguise a joint if you don't have room on both sides to feather things out.

A good compromise would be to just keep removing small amounts of drywall until you find the problem. You may get lucky and find it early on in the process but I usually find the flashing problems around windows causing leaks generally start along the top of the window where water sits for longer periods of time and then wick down along the sides and below.

Dealing with drywall and fiberglass insulation is a pain when living in the same area and can cause irritants. One of the things I invested in early on for these sorts of projects is by using the ZipWall system. They are essentially expandable length poles with springs in them that can pinch a piece of plastic between the ceiling and the floor to contain all the dust and allergens. You can get a basic system on Amazon for $160 but after the initial investment, you can attach any sheet plastic too them. They even come with zipper kits to create doorways so you can enter and leave them without dismantling. Granted you have a vaulted ceiling which makes it a bit harder. I think by default the poles and plastic with the kit are only for 8 and 10 feet ceilings. But it would be fairly easy to cobble up a temporary knee wall at the base to take up some of the extra space. I have always lived in the houses I'm remodeling and so I typically use the ZipWall system to close off a room especially when there aren't doors like between say a dining room and a kitchen area. It does wonder with controlling dust in the rest of the house.

That zipwall looks interesting. Seems like one of those types of things that when you need them you wish you had it but otherwise wouldn't have ever thought of it haha. I may consider getting one. Looks like there are ZipRails that can be used for cathedral/vaulted ceilings - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUSsrR6uAxQ

I believe the frame of the plantation shutters is a camber deco frame with a trim/finish strip that sits inside a channel and covers the screws. I'm still unclear as to how I can pull that finish strip out though. One thought that crossed my mind is to drill a small hole and screw in hanger hooks (any kind of small weight bearing hook) or even a small screw and then pull the trim out. Presumably I could just fill the hole with bondo or caulk when it comes time to replace. But I'd prefer not to drill any holes if I don't have to. On the other hand, trying to wedge a scraper into the crack and lever out the trim seems like a good way to ruin it :T
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjW6JVyJyrg&feature=emb_title

I wish they would have made these things easier to remove... maybe I'm just missing something with that.

Anyway, let's assume that this is an issue with flashing that wasn't properly done, etc. How would I go about remediating it at that point? Is that something where I would strongly want to consider hiring out the work as it would likely involve removing the window and sealing the frame before reinstalling? Or is this something where you would just spray Great Stuff to fill cracks and then adhere sheathing around the sides of the window? What's interesting is that we have these same types of windows in multiple other places in the house and this is the only problem area. You would think that if this was an issue where they didn't flash anything properly, we'd be seeing a lot more issues in other areas.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2021, 03:36:00 PM by jeromedawg »

PMJL34

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #31 on: December 06, 2021, 06:40:11 PM »
Jerome,

Once you understand how moisture works and where it comes from. Nothing you do from the inside of your drywall can fix that. Just seal it up as I mentioned and move on. I'd wager big money you won't have any problems.

Please note that coastal CA is known for very, very high humidity levels. Compare your humidity level in another room to this area, I bet it is very similar. Putting those water buckets or dehumidifier in any of your rooms will fill up with water as well. 

IF, and a big if, you still have moisture problems, the next thing you would need to look at is the window flashing as others mentioned. However, window flashing is done from the outside. You opening up the entire wall from the interior to the studs won't solve anything.

Just move on. You're fine. And I say this as someone who is OCD and wants everything perfect. You are literally fine. Relax.

Paper Chaser

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #32 on: December 07, 2021, 03:36:08 AM »
Jerome,

Once you understand how moisture works and where it comes from. Nothing you do from the inside of your drywall can fix that. Just seal it up as I mentioned and move on. I'd wager big money you won't have any problems.

Please note that coastal CA is known for very, very high humidity levels. Compare your humidity level in another room to this area, I bet it is very similar. Putting those water buckets or dehumidifier in any of your rooms will fill up with water as well. 

IF, and a big if, you still have moisture problems, the next thing you would need to look at is the window flashing as others mentioned. However, window flashing is done from the outside. You opening up the entire wall from the interior to the studs won't solve anything.

Just move on. You're fine. And I say this as someone who is OCD and wants everything perfect. You are literally fine. Relax.

I think the problem with this approach is that if you just close it back up, you're not likely to know if the water issue is still present or not unless it grows into a larger issue later. OP just bought this house and presumably plans to be there for awhile. I think knowingly taking a risk with water at this point in their ownership could really bite them.

The wall is already opened up. Drywall is cheap. I think it makes the most sense to take a bit more drywall out and be certain the window isn't contributing to the situation like it appears to be in the pics.

lthenderson

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #33 on: December 07, 2021, 08:31:52 AM »
Anyway, let's assume that this is an issue with flashing that wasn't properly done, etc. How would I go about remediating it at that point? Is that something where I would strongly want to consider hiring out the work as it would likely involve removing the window and sealing the frame before reinstalling? Or is this something where you would just spray Great Stuff to fill cracks and then adhere sheathing around the sides of the window? What's interesting is that we have these same types of windows in multiple other places in the house and this is the only problem area. You would think that if this was an issue where they didn't flash anything properly, we'd be seeing a lot more issues in other areas.

If it is a flashing issue, really the only way to fix it is to remove enough siding/trim on the outside to properly flash it. Even if that was the case, I would still want to be able to verify that I fixed the flashing issue before covering things back up. But there are chances that it could be something else. There could be a crack or split in the window casing letting moisture in, water damage could have rotted out areas around the window, a sill plate that doesn't drain outward, or even a leak in the roof above that is coming down through the entire wall and just happened to be near a window, etc. Some of those require the window to be pulled out and in which case, removing the trim is not a choice.

It is easy to be an armchair quarterback in things like these but in reality, it is not that easy in your shoes. I don't know your skillset, willingness for disruption in your life (or your spouse and kids) or ability to finance a repair. I also can't see what (if anything) is causing moisture issues and it is impossible to tell you how to fix it until you figure out first what is causing the problem. Everyone is different and despite this being a DIY forum, I don't think there is any shame in calling in an expert to figure something out and perhaps shorten the discomfort to your life especially if you can afford it. If I were in your shoes, I would remove the plantation shutters and the drywall around the window and then with someone spraying water from the outside, see if you can figure out the cause of the leak, if any, or find any previous damage. If there is no leak and no damage, then you've wasted a bit of money in materials and time to fix it but can sleep easy at night knowing it isn't leaking. I value being able to sleep at night more than I do money. Once you've identified the problem, if any, then you can decide if you have the skillset, patience and time to fix it or it is better to hire it out. Likewise goes the repair process. Only you will have the correct solution for you.

Wish you luck!

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #34 on: December 07, 2021, 12:09:21 PM »
Anyway, let's assume that this is an issue with flashing that wasn't properly done, etc. How would I go about remediating it at that point? Is that something where I would strongly want to consider hiring out the work as it would likely involve removing the window and sealing the frame before reinstalling? Or is this something where you would just spray Great Stuff to fill cracks and then adhere sheathing around the sides of the window? What's interesting is that we have these same types of windows in multiple other places in the house and this is the only problem area. You would think that if this was an issue where they didn't flash anything properly, we'd be seeing a lot more issues in other areas.

If it is a flashing issue, really the only way to fix it is to remove enough siding/trim on the outside to properly flash it. Even if that was the case, I would still want to be able to verify that I fixed the flashing issue before covering things back up. But there are chances that it could be something else. There could be a crack or split in the window casing letting moisture in, water damage could have rotted out areas around the window, a sill plate that doesn't drain outward, or even a leak in the roof above that is coming down through the entire wall and just happened to be near a window, etc. Some of those require the window to be pulled out and in which case, removing the trim is not a choice.

It is easy to be an armchair quarterback in things like these but in reality, it is not that easy in your shoes. I don't know your skillset, willingness for disruption in your life (or your spouse and kids) or ability to finance a repair. I also can't see what (if anything) is causing moisture issues and it is impossible to tell you how to fix it until you figure out first what is causing the problem. Everyone is different and despite this being a DIY forum, I don't think there is any shame in calling in an expert to figure something out and perhaps shorten the discomfort to your life especially if you can afford it. If I were in your shoes, I would remove the plantation shutters and the drywall around the window and then with someone spraying water from the outside, see if you can figure out the cause of the leak, if any, or find any previous damage. If there is no leak and no damage, then you've wasted a bit of money in materials and time to fix it but can sleep easy at night knowing it isn't leaking. I value being able to sleep at night more than I do money. Once you've identified the problem, if any, then you can decide if you have the skillset, patience and time to fix it or it is better to hire it out. Likewise goes the repair process. Only you will have the correct solution for you.

Wish you luck!

The outside siding/trim is all covered with stucco:


Even the guys who I got quotes from (for the stucco/weep screed repair) didn't want to mess with opening up that 'overhang' ledge between the window and the weep screed because they were saying "can of worms". It seems like any work to uncover that area is going to result in a high cost repair since it's going to involve more plaster/patch stucco work.

If they have to break this area open, I'd imagine it ending up looking something like this but on a smaller scale:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ-4syxGvf4
« Last Edit: December 07, 2021, 12:44:24 PM by jeromedawg »

PMJL34

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #35 on: December 07, 2021, 03:03:13 PM »
You guys are killing me with these wild imaginations/possiblities. You're just feeding into Jerome's fears. Let me break it down for everyone...

1. If windows aren't properly flashed, it will be all windows in this house as it's all original with no additions/work. Not just this one. There is no evidence of water damage anywhere else.
2. The water intrusion was clearly identified by sprinkler pointing at the stucco exterior and as we know, stucco is porous and can only absorb so much water before it leaked through and to the felt paper and to the inside. This has been 100% remedied. Move on.
3. this is SoCal. Its not PNW or anywhere similar. Its a completely different ball game.
4. Posters telling Jerome to open up the entire wall and shoot a hose from the outside are just ignorant/rambling/typing to type. No licensed contractor would advise this. This recommendation screams ignorance.
5. If there is future water issues, he will know because the same/similar thing would happen in that the new drywall would discolor/trim would start showing signs of water penetration.

But it won't. This is just so black and white it's ridiculous. I won't be commenting anymore. Best of luck Jerome and others.


lthenderson

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #36 on: December 07, 2021, 03:30:04 PM »
You guys are killing me with these wild imaginations/possiblities. You're just feeding into Jerome's fears. Let me break it down for everyone...

1. If windows aren't properly flashed, it will be all windows in this house as it's all original with no additions/work. Not just this one. There is no evidence of water damage anywhere else.

Unless the flashing/caulking on properly flashed windows fails. I have seen windows on the south side of homes fail and ones on the north side put in at the same time remain intact and the only difference is sun and heat exposure.

lthenderson

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #37 on: December 07, 2021, 03:36:15 PM »
The outside siding/trim is all covered with stucco:

I don't work with stucco but one thing that catches my eye is the crack between the window casing and the stucco on the left side of your window in the above picture. I would expect this to be caulked. If water gets driven into the crack, you are relying on flashing only at that point to direct it out of harms way while it would take forever to dry out since it is isolated from exposure to sun and air movement.

jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #38 on: December 07, 2021, 03:52:32 PM »
You guys are killing me with these wild imaginations/possiblities. You're just feeding into Jerome's fears. Let me break it down for everyone...

1. If windows aren't properly flashed, it will be all windows in this house as it's all original with no additions/work. Not just this one. There is no evidence of water damage anywhere else.
2. The water intrusion was clearly identified by sprinkler pointing at the stucco exterior and as we know, stucco is porous and can only absorb so much water before it leaked through and to the felt paper and to the inside. This has been 100% remedied. Move on.
3. this is SoCal. Its not PNW or anywhere similar. Its a completely different ball game.
4. Posters telling Jerome to open up the entire wall and shoot a hose from the outside are just ignorant/rambling/typing to type. No licensed contractor would advise this. This recommendation screams ignorance.
5. If there is future water issues, he will know because the same/similar thing would happen in that the new drywall would discolor/trim would start showing signs of water penetration.

But it won't. This is just so black and white it's ridiculous. I won't be commenting anymore. Best of luck Jerome and others.


Haha thanks :)

In the meantime, I have the dehumidifier running under that blue tarp. I've probably collected over a cup of water since running it yesterday.

PMJL34

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #39 on: December 07, 2021, 09:33:27 PM »
Jerome, you don't get it...that's what dehumidifiers do. It will do that in any room in any space in your house. I'd bet your entire home is 60+ humidity.

But be my guest. Open up the whole wall. Tbh, why not open up the entire wall next to it and next to that one?

Paper Chaser

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #40 on: December 08, 2021, 05:58:38 AM »
You guys are killing me with these wild imaginations/possiblities. You're just feeding into Jerome's fears. Let me break it down for everyone...

1. If windows aren't properly flashed, it will be all windows in this house as it's all original with no additions/work. Not just this one. There is no evidence of water damage anywhere else.

This isn't necessarily true at all. I'm not suggesting that there's no flashing at all. I'm suggesting that if there is flashing in place, it could have small defects in the product or workmanship or something that has degraded over time and allowed water to get in. A seam that isn't fully sealed, a small hole or bend in the flashing, or cutting a piece an eighth of an inch too short can let water in and not be an issue anywhere else. There's clearly moisture on the wood framing in the pic that OP took of the inside of his wall, directly under the window (It's the dark stuff where the framing intersects).

2. The water intrusion was clearly identified by sprinkler pointing at the stucco exterior and as we know, stucco is porous and can only absorb so much water before it leaked through and to the felt paper and to the inside. This has been 100% remedied. Move on.
How is a sprinkler that runs once a day any different from rain water? Unless there's a leak present 24/7 on the outside of the wall there shouldn't be moisture getting inside of the wall. There should be something in between the stucco and framing that prevents water from getting inside of the wall. The moisture damage in this case would also probably be concentrated where the sprinkler or leak was, and not directly under the window.

3. this is SoCal. Its not PNW or anywhere similar. Its a completely different ball game.

Having moisture damage in a dry climate seems like even more reason to get to the bottom of this to me, but you're right. We're all just basing our suggestions from pics on the internet. A local professional that can see the whole situation in person, and understand the climate, building techniques, etc is the best option.

4. Posters telling Jerome to open up the entire wall and shoot a hose from the outside are just ignorant/rambling/typing to type. No licensed contractor would advise this. This recommendation screams ignorance.

It comes down to cost/benefit. OP's wall already needs drywall work. Cutting out a bit more drywall to have a better idea if there is actually an issue or not is cheap insurance. A 4ft x 8ft sheet of drywall is under $10 at my local Lowes. You could probably take out a fair bit of drywall and still only have $100 or so extra cost vs what's already there. And that's if you have a pro come tape/mud/finish for you. Assuming that things are fine as they are, closing it back up, and having future water issues is not only the hassle of going through all of this again, but will cost more than the $100 or so that it might take right now. Didn't OP just spend like $1mil on this house? It seems like it shouldn't be a big deal to spend $100 more to have more confidence that their expensive new home doesn't have issues that could become long term and ugly.


5. If there is future water issues, he will know because the same/similar thing would happen in that the new drywall would discolor/trim would start showing signs of water penetration.

Cool, so he'll just get to do all of this work again, plus whatever it takes to actually fix whatever the issue is. I'm sure that's super appealing to the OP, and he won't be cursing himself the whole time for cheaping out to save a couple hundred bucks.
Water damage doesn't just stay the same. It gets worse over time. Small problems become bigger. What might cost a little now will grow and cost more to fix in the future. Even if this is a $10k repair, that might be better than going through all of this again in a few years, or when they need to sell the house and having it cost way more then.

affordablehousing

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #41 on: December 08, 2021, 10:51:25 AM »
I think the only professional needed here is a psychiatrist. Whatever the issue is, between the obsession over drainage, this wall, the rat poop, and messy cabinets, a 30 year old tract house is never going to look or be built perfectly, unless you do serious work to it. Either this house gets properly and thoroughly remodeled, or it continues as just a typical moderate quality spec build from the 80's. The market in OC supports nice homes at high price points. The OP insisted on getting a cheap house or a house "at a deal." There isn't anything precious about this house, nothing historic, design forward or inherently valuable other than its dirt. I vote you either just patch it up and forget about the moisture and assume you're right about the sprinkler, or remodel the whole home, get rid of the carpet and the generic tile, put in nicely finished smooth drywall, rip out the old vinyl windows and replace with a nice clad window, redo the stucco with a nice smooth dryvit, put in nice cabinetry and fixtures in the kitchen, modernize the stairs, upgrade all the doors and hardware, redo the landscaping, put in a metal roof, put in a modern heat pump, do some nice decorative concrete work, etc...

You either really do it, or you just get it done. I see a point to a $500K renovation, or a $500 fix, but the OP continuing to get him, his kids and his wife sick from the psychosomatics of anxiety just isn't worth it.

Model96

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #42 on: December 09, 2021, 03:18:01 PM »
In the interests of keeping this thread constructive, why don't you test the flashing under the window by squirting a bit of water onto the window glass from the outside. The water will trickle down to the base of the window and should come out of the weep holes at the front. If some ends up inside you have identified a problem. You could get your squirt spray bottle and do similar experiments for the caulking/cracks around the window frame etc.
Your dehumidifier theories don't make sense to me, but there's no harm if it makes your family feel better.

NaN

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #43 on: December 10, 2021, 10:30:30 PM »
BTW: The previous owners completely suck. I was trying to get a model # off the baseboard and noticed this:
Notice the timestamp - that shows the date this baseboard was manufactured. Which means they likely did this repair in the past few years. Unless they decided just to replace the baseboard and nothing else. Either way they clearly failed to disclose and IMO lied about the repairs in this area by omitting the information.
When we had the mold inspection done, the inspector pulled the baseboard back to initially uncover the drywall that had been cut and replaced. We inquired with the sellers about this and they played dumb and wrote it off as though they didn't know... or ignored it all together. Super shady. Not sure if there's any recourse for something like that.

Speak to a lawyer ASAP.

Edited to add: And send the previous owner / realtor a picture of this and a demand letter saying you expect them to pay for all these repairs or you are going to small claims court (if under your small claims amount) or to sue. See how they react. If they lawyer up then you know you are on to something.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2021, 10:34:05 PM by NaN »

BudgetSlasher

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #44 on: December 15, 2021, 06:50:11 AM »
BTW: The previous owners completely suck. I was trying to get a model # off the baseboard and noticed this:
Notice the timestamp - that shows the date this baseboard was manufactured. Which means they likely did this repair in the past few years. Unless they decided just to replace the baseboard and nothing else. Either way they clearly failed to disclose and IMO lied about the repairs in this area by omitting the information.
When we had the mold inspection done, the inspector pulled the baseboard back to initially uncover the drywall that had been cut and replaced. We inquired with the sellers about this and they played dumb and wrote it off as though they didn't know... or ignored it all together. Super shady. Not sure if there's any recourse for something like that.

Speak to a lawyer ASAP.

Edited to add: And send the previous owner / realtor a picture of this and a demand letter saying you expect them to pay for all these repairs or you are going to small claims court (if under your small claims amount) or to sue. See how they react. If they lawyer up then you know you are on to something.

This is definitely an area where speaking to a lawyer will bring clarity and how likely the OP is to succeed. My knee jerk is that it's pretty grey, but where I have lived disclosure is often limited to known material defects, and not repairs made; the seller saying we had handyman Jim replace fix the issue and he adjusted the slope of the gutters (or even just telling the seller something was fixed) so we thought it was fixed really weakens that known bit. But the OP lives in CA and more likely than not that the disclosure laws there are stronger and/or require disclosing completed repairs.

You may have implied this but, IMO, if the OP is going to go the route of using a lawyer the demand letter should come after/through the lawyer. Better to have a lawyer through everything that is legal or associate with than bring them in partway through.

I disagree that if the seller hires a lawyer after receiving a demand letter that references sueing, especially through a lawyer, it shows anything. I think it is just as likely to work with a lawyer (especially if they happen to know one), as it is to respond on their own trying to fix things, or just ignore it until there is an actual lawsuit.

And I definitely agree with acting sooner rather than later.


jeromedawg

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Re: How high up should I cut this drywall?
« Reply #45 on: December 17, 2021, 02:33:45 PM »
BTW: The previous owners completely suck. I was trying to get a model # off the baseboard and noticed this:
Notice the timestamp - that shows the date this baseboard was manufactured. Which means they likely did this repair in the past few years. Unless they decided just to replace the baseboard and nothing else. Either way they clearly failed to disclose and IMO lied about the repairs in this area by omitting the information.
When we had the mold inspection done, the inspector pulled the baseboard back to initially uncover the drywall that had been cut and replaced. We inquired with the sellers about this and they played dumb and wrote it off as though they didn't know... or ignored it all together. Super shady. Not sure if there's any recourse for something like that.


Speak to a lawyer ASAP.

Edited to add: And send the previous owner / realtor a picture of this and a demand letter saying you expect them to pay for all these repairs or you are going to small claims court (if under your small claims amount) or to sue. See how they react. If they lawyer up then you know you are on to something.

This is definitely an area where speaking to a lawyer will bring clarity and how likely the OP is to succeed. My knee jerk is that it's pretty grey, but where I have lived disclosure is often limited to known material defects, and not repairs made; the seller saying we had handyman Jim replace fix the issue and he adjusted the slope of the gutters (or even just telling the seller something was fixed) so we thought it was fixed really weakens that known bit. But the OP lives in CA and more likely than not that the disclosure laws there are stronger and/or require disclosing completed repairs.

You may have implied this but, IMO, if the OP is going to go the route of using a lawyer the demand letter should come after/through the lawyer. Better to have a lawyer through everything that is legal or associate with than bring them in partway through.

I disagree that if the seller hires a lawyer after receiving a demand letter that references sueing, especially through a lawyer, it shows anything. I think it is just as likely to work with a lawyer (especially if they happen to know one), as it is to respond on their own trying to fix things, or just ignore it until there is an actual lawsuit.

And I definitely agree with acting sooner rather than later.




I called a lawyer today. He asked for the transfer of disclosure statement so I sent it but after describing the issue with the timestamped drywall we found, he basically said our case is weak because we knew about the wet wall and mold prior to any of this. He was saying that we would have to prove that somehow we're worse off finding out about this prior undisclosed repair vs if it was disclosed or if there was never any repair (at least in the case of mold, etc). There was another issue I had posted about regarding our discovery of a rat infestation and where we noticed droppings during rentback, which we inquired about, but the seller and their agent didn't provide any answers to. So not sure if that is another thing to build a case (in which case the goal of all this would be to get them to pay for all of the remediation costs that we have already spent or will spend as pertaining to the damage from the rodents and also the mold)

On a somewhat unrelated note, we just discovered a leak in the supply line somewhere else in the house (well, somewhere between the powder room toilet, the furnace on the other side of the wall/firewall and possibly the ceiling above). We will likely be contacting insurance for this and may end up just doing a PEX repipe versus a one-off fix for a portion of old pipe that has failed. The plumber who came out to assess thinks this had been going on for a while (probably months) and has gradually gotten worse to the point where it is now (first found out about this while swapping furnace filters - dripping inside of the air return box on the wall side)
« Last Edit: December 17, 2021, 02:36:24 PM by jeromedawg »