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My dishwasher leaked in the night of Aug 1, the water went down into the basement ceiling, and went out to the exterior on top of the basement window. I noticed the leak the next morning. There might be water leak before I bought this house one year ago, but I'm not sure.

Multiple fans are now being used to dry the cabinet and the structures in the ceiling, 3 50-pint dehumidifiers and one AC are used to dehumidify the basement room (RH 35%), and one air purifier to reduce the dust in the air.

I wonder if I can DIY the water mitigation or I must hire some professional. My goal is to prevent structural damage and mold. Is air dry enough? Is desiccant needed? I saw somewhere on YouTube a spray is applied after drying. Is it necessary? What spray I shall use?

Here are some photos.

Where dishwasher was installed. Right side is slightly lower than the left. enter image description here

Basement enter image description here

Outside enter image description here

By the window of the basement enter image description here

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Inside of the basement ceiling, around dishwasher, from right to left enter image description here

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  • The spray is bleach. Generally around a 5% mix with water. You can buy bottles of "mold killer" spray but it's literally just bleach and water so if you need a large amount it's best to just mix it yourself.
    – jesse_b
    Aug 4, 2023 at 12:21
  • 2
    Pros don't have much in the way of magic tricks. They just have a lot of equipment and supplies on hand so they can respond easily and help folks without initiative. Your situation looks manageable. There are some good answers here so I'll see myself out. Good luck.
    – isherwood
    Aug 4, 2023 at 13:54
  • This sounds like it was a one time event. However, it's also possible that you mean that this happened over time. Even if it was a one time event, someone could describe it the way that you have if the duration was anything from the result of a single load in the dishwasher to a leak forming while you were on vacation and lasting a month. A lot of longer-term water issues and needs for mitigation depend on how long the issue existed for. Please edit to more thoroughly describe how long this was happening for and/or how long the leak existed, at least to hours/days/weeks/months.
    – Makyen
    Aug 4, 2023 at 18:10
  • @Makyen It's a one time event, and happened on Tuesday night, and was found next morning. There might be water leak before I bought this house one year ago, but I'm not sure.
    – bobby_yan
    Aug 5, 2023 at 15:58
  • @jesse_b When shall I apply the spray? After how long of drying? Or other indicator? Thank you.
    – bobby_yan
    Aug 5, 2023 at 16:22

2 Answers 2

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Remove all the stuff (like the false ceiling and the wood paneling/drywall) that is wet and can be replaced easily as its a barrier to let the structure dry. The structural wood is wet, and wetrot/dryrot is your worst enemy. dryrot Kind of a misnomer as the fungal spores are active when moist and eat the cellulose in the wood, which is what gives is strength. The wood becomes soft when this happens and will cause major $$.

Stuff that is an alcohol/glycol based fungicide is what you want. I made my own boric acid/borax glycol mix that is way cheaper than what you can buy, but suggest getting Boracare or Lignum. The wood looks like it may have fungal spores already, so the water has woken them up for a feast. Some of the water cleanup people are hacks and some really know their stuff, but you should do something about it.

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  • When shall I apply the spray? After how long of drying? Or other indicator? Thank you.
    – bobby_yan
    Aug 5, 2023 at 16:22
  • Box fan; 24h. Unless it's a Friday. Then we'd either just do it and run away, or it gets 3 days.
    – Mazura
    Aug 5, 2023 at 16:58
  • The spray can go on wet, but you really want it to be dry and not water left like the other post said and the fan on it. Hopefully you threw away the ceiling tile that is shot and had a fan on it over the weekend. If you use a concentrate like Boracare, you cut it with water and you spray as directed, its not a whole lot. also don't use primer on the wall until its dry as a lot of primers will keep moisture in. Killz mold and mildew is great once it dries to deal with any mold. Aug 7, 2023 at 6:26
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The general rule on water damage is

  1. Make sure no additional water gets in
  2. Dry stuff out
  3. If damaged, do your best to replace it

Most of the problems with water damage are long-term. Wood will rot, mold can grow, etc. Wood can discolor with water exposure. That's normal and does not indicate a problem by itself.

Drywall is a more middle-of-the-road problem. If it's dried quickly, you can usually fix it with paint (put a layer of primer on just to be sure, however). If it absorbs too much water, it will distort and need replacing.

Your ceiling tile is clearly shot. The water softened the gypsum and made it sag under the weight. It will also likely stain. I would highly suggest replacing it.

The mold should go away on its own. There are mold killing products out there if you want to directly knock down any for your own peace of mind, but just remember mold spores live in all air. Ventilation and drying usually does the trick by itself. You can use desiccant products like Damp Rid to hasten the drying if need be, but a simple fan can do the same thing.

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  • A spray can of Killz may be useful for the mold. Might as well spray it around while inside the walls.
    – Smith
    Aug 4, 2023 at 14:55
  • @Smith When shall I apply the spray? After how long of drying? Or other indicator? Thank you.
    – bobby_yan
    Aug 5, 2023 at 16:21

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