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Please help me understand the extent of the damage that might have been inflicted. Interestingly, a few hours later, the drywall ceiling of the floor below shows no water damage. Is that a good sign?

How much damage can 3 gallons of water really do? I wiped and soaked a lot of it, but probably good 2 gallons still spilled somehow into the not-tiled adjacent rooms, under the wall.

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    Can you confirm it really was just the contents of the tank at the time it burst, (that is, the tank water supply did not continue to flow)? In most toilet designs I know of, if the tank were to burst the float valve would automatically open causing more water to flow in and make the mess much worse. Hopefully that is not the case for you... Feb 16 at 6:02
  • Yes, supply was shut off immediately
    – hyankov
    Feb 16 at 13:03
  • Would google the make and maybe model of your toilet. Years ago there was a certain make that was prone to cracking.
    – crip659
    Feb 16 at 14:20
  • I did the best I could to dry out the areas with a regular fan. - Then it's probably fine. A little water never hurt anything. I once had a 100y old house get shut down for eight months without a roof on it. - I mean, if someone overflowed the toilet, would you go tearing open the walls w/o evidence of needing to do so? And that's with gross water. This was mostly clean.
    – Mazura
    Feb 18 at 9:13
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    @gnicko It might not. There was a case years ago about defective tanks that had a bad habit of cracking. It is possible that it might be happening again, and a google search might show it, if a few people with the same make have the same problem.
    – crip659
    Feb 18 at 14:30

2 Answers 2

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It can do a fair amount of damage if the water isn't dried out. If you have home insurance, you should call the insurer and ask about making a claim, so that they can send a restoration company with some large dryers and a dehumidifier. It might simply require some industrial drying and that's it, but if it's going to cause mold to grow in the wall, you want them to fix that.

If you have the cash you can buy the industrial driers / dehumidifiers from a big box store like Lowes or Home Depot but you'll probably only ever use them once and they're expensive.

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    Should be possible to rent. Definitely don't get insurance involved unless damage in the thousands, which it doesn't sound like it is. Feb 16 at 6:14
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    Most good insurers will send someone round to take a look and give an estimate on the cost of repair without having you commit to the claim. This way you can get a sense for what the claim will cost you in terms of your deductible and/or premiums. If it's not to your advantage, you can simply walk away from the claim and repair it yourself. Feb 16 at 6:17
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    Need to careful with minor stuff and insurance. Some companies will even take asking a question to them about a problem as a claim item. Enough claim items and they use it to raise your rates. This depends on the company, think most don't do this.
    – crip659
    Feb 16 at 12:57
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    OTOH, water can do significant damage that's not immediately obvious. Especially if the surfaces are dried but the interior of walls/ceilings are not.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 16 at 12:59
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    Checked in the morning, most everything seems dry. No damage whatsoever to the ceiling of the floor below. I am running a fan just in case, but carpet is dry to the touch. I am hoping I might have gotten lucky. I am spraying Mold Control on potentially affected surfaces.
    – hyankov
    Feb 16 at 13:06
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Posting as an answer for visibility.

Actually turns out the damage was non-negligible. Of the entire 3gal tank, I've managed to capture about half before spilling away. But the gallon and a half that got away actually went through the floor and into the ceiling of the bottom floor.

I noticed the drywall ceiling sagging along the tape-line, so I called a remediation company. They cut the ceiling open and created a chamber around it using plastic sheets. We're moving air through the ceiling space and dehumidifying, for 3 days. Similarly, on the top floor where the flood happened, we're blowing fans and running dehumidifier.

This and the repairs afterwards would run into the thousands. So it wasn't exactly harmless. However, my prompt actions after the incident have definitely helped limit the damage. We don't even have to spray chemicals and there is no signs of mold.

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    "...run into the thousands..." makes me think that you should call some actual drywall contractors rather than a "remediation company" (there's nothing "dangerous" that needs remediation here) or consider DIY. The cost then might be 1/10 of that.
    – gnicko
    Feb 18 at 14:26
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    That's a good advice. I will get a quote from the remediation and compare it with other contractors' quotes. All it really needs is patching the rectangular hole in my ceiling with a new drywall sheet and then some painting. I am even thinking about matching the paint and not re-painting the entire ceiling. Anyway, the remediation itself (drying) is a north of a thousand. The machines running cost me about $160/day.
    – hyankov
    Feb 18 at 18:33
  • @hyankov That sounds crazy overpriced. When I needed to fix the fallout from a shoddy roof job, running a dehumidifier (able to extract all that you spilled in a day) plus two fans cost me about €100 upfront for the machine plus €2/day power bill. I doubt electricity is that much more expensive your side of the pond.
    – TooTea
    Feb 18 at 19:35
  • Yeah let me clarify - they've been running 3 commercial-grade air movers and one dehumidifier. That's $210 a day. Then there is the hourly rate of the laborers and misc fees. 3 days is easily adding up to $1000 here. Yeah, contractors are expensive in the US.
    – hyankov
    Feb 18 at 21:22
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    That seems crazy expensive considering the size of the leak. 1 hr. labor to cut a hole in the ceiling and get rid of the wet drywall, put a couple fans on it, or just let household air circulate for a week or so, (the wet stuff should all be removed at this point) and 2-3 hours to put in a drywall patch and match/paint it. $50-$100 if you do it yourself (depending on the tools you already own, etc.) and maybe $300-$500 if you hire a guy to do it. It should be a very small, one-man "side" job for a contractor to make a couple of extra bucks.
    – gnicko
    Feb 19 at 21:45

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