Drywall issue (see pics): what could it be?

27 Replies

One of the houses we're looking at has some strange drywall issues (mold?). Has anyone seen anything like this before? It's in two different locations in the house, both facing the outside wall although there are no apparent issues from the outside. Does anyone know if this could be a serious problem or perhaps an easy fix? We're unfortunately not able to see it in person so our realtor provided us with these images.

We're still very new at this and appreciate any imput!

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Yep, water intrusion.

Siding or flashing issue on the exterior of the house?

@Kate H.  It could be a roof leak.  In any event, I would consider it a "serious" but not major issue, whose repair is generally straightforward.  You should have a qualified person look at it.

water intrusion. somewhere above that, you are getting water inside the wall. either a window directly above it or you have a roof issue in that general area. you need to get it fixed right away. its not gonna get better with age. 

looks like poor construction from the start  ...take your money and run.  I can only imagine what the remainder of the house looks like.  ...if the quality of the construction is good then I would probably have reason to believe this problem is isolated to this particular area. another question I would ask would be about flooding in the area. pay a trusted professional and save yourself from a disaster!  a good resource is the neighbors who live nearby

Thanks for all the replies! 

The fact that a similar thing is in two different locations/rooms worries me and points to that it's perhaps not an isolated problem. It's a relatively new house ('04, concrete block structure) but the house already needs a lot of repairs. We're trying to determine what to bid on the house (if anything at all) taking into account these issues, and how much we should discount our bid. 

remember the cardinal rule about real estate ... it's the location first...you want the bad property in the best neighborhood...all the money is made in the buy. you buy wrong and your dreams will take a hit. trust no one with a conflict of interest ...the most dangerous sharks have beautiful pearly whites ...pay an old retired rehabber to ride around with you! nightmares aren't just for halloween night...

@Kate H. , there will always be another deal. A relatively new house that already needs so many repairs is probably best left to someone with a lot of experience and a contractor already in place. Either that, or offer unbelievably low.

We had a similar issue with a much older home & yours may also be an easy fix if you have it assessed correctly.

The poorly fitted gutter/flashing interface on our upper roof (to the right of the galvanized stack we removed) finally let go & a very small finger sized hole let in the moisture.

The fix could have been a simple bandaid but I decided to replace the 1987 roof instead. 

(24 square on a Sunday with 8 guys helping $5k).

But it then required the 'surgical' removal of one section of moldy kitchen ceiling drywall.

CBS ...the leak could be anywhere  ...locating the water intrusion and where it manifests itself could be yards apart ...faulty plumbing, roof leak, poor drainage from clogged gutters and the outside grading ...whether it's above or below.  The wood on the floor will tell a better story. you may need simple weep holes below floor level ...depends on the flashing and grade level.  even the experts have trouble with water leaks... the most obvious source would be exterior cracks probably from settling normally. ...in Florida worry about sink holes in some area's

I would recommend getting a Contractor out for a second opinion. I own a property that was gushing water in my laundry room. The ceiling was about to cave in due to the roof leak. This was all solved by a can of Bull (Black Tar, Wet or Dry) that stopped the leak. It was a valley in my roof that was not sealed correctly and water was all running to this area. Sometimes people pass over the simple things. If a contractor figures it will take $5,000 to replace the roof, go ahead and figure in $10,000 just in case and put the offer in anyways. The worst that can happen is they reject your offer.

Thanks for all the tips. So you guys think it could still be a roof issue, even though the problem is at the bottom of the drywall? Roof seems to be in good shape, but something is definitely going on. 

One strange thing though is that the same issue is apparent in two rooms on opposite sides of the house but facing the same side (west), it's pretty much perfectly "mirrored", for lack of a better word, so I'm thinking a construction issue.

Will definitely do our due diligence (if we even get it under contract!) and keep pricing in mind.

Originally posted by @Kate H. :

Thanks for all the tips. So you guys think it could still be a roof issue, even though the problem is at the bottom of the drywall? Roof seems to be in good shape, but something is definitely going on. 

One strange thing though is that the same issue is apparent in two rooms on opposite sides of the house but facing the same side (west), it's pretty much perfectly "mirrored", for lack of a better word, so I'm thinking a construction issue.

Will definitely do our due diligence (if we even get it under contract!) and keep pricing in mind.

I didn't realize you are in Buffalo NY our area. The ice buildup we had last winter was the cause of many similar leaks. In fact we had several in 3 different buildings we own but we got to them before mold or wall damage formed.

Mike Sherwood has a meeting here every month locally & there are a bunch of young guys who are good at assessing issues like this.

How many years ago was it that there was a huge recall on defective drywall?  I never saw any myself , so I don't know what it looks like or what goes wrong.  The picture doesn't look like water intrusion to me, with no apparent problem directly above the subject area. 

Where the water appears isn't necessarily an indication of where it came from.  I had a problem show up when I was having a floor refinished. The floor was getting wet starting from an inside wall. It was the roof flashing at one of the valleys.  No wall damage and I would not have known for a while except for having the floor refinished and a line of dampness wicking down the middle of the floor.  Another case was due to ice dams.

@Pat L. This house is in SW Florida though, so no ice build-ups there! We're relocating to Florida soon.

@Geoffrey Hoffman The house was build around that time, however, I don't think it's Chinese Drywall since the copper wire in the electrical outlet right next to the affected area looked fine.

Good info @Colleen F.

@Kate H. is there a basement or is the house built on slab? Your situation is on the ground floor level right? What is the grading or drainage like? Does it drain away from the house or toward?

It is possible water is wicking up from the ground.

You need a termite inspection. 

Water doesn't go from ground up, it goes from roof down. Termites go from ground up. Slabs in the south are at extreme risk for termite infestation.

Seems like we could all keep guessing but in reality what you need is a contractor or an inspector to take a look at it. Might be something simple or something very expensive. Either way knowing before you purchase will allow you to not only know what is exactly going on but also what it would cost to fix. 

Originally posted by @Kate H. :

Thanks for all the tips. So you guys think it could still be a roof issue, even though the problem is at the bottom of the drywall? Roof seems to be in good shape, but something is definitely going on. 

One strange thing though is that the same issue is apparent in two rooms on opposite sides of the house but facing the same side (west), it's pretty much perfectly "mirrored", for lack of a better word, so I'm thinking a construction issue.

Will definitely do our due diligence (if we even get it under contract!) and keep pricing in mind.

 Something like this is almost always a roof or window leak. Water leaks down inside the wall, soaks the insulation and collects at the bottom of the cavity. I'm not sure how one can say the whole house is of "poor construction" from just your 2 photos but if this is all that's wrong, I wouldn't let it keep me from purchasing. Have a contractor or inspector look at it; I'll bet the cause is obvious. 

hi kate. i am in buffalo, ny too. i would be happy to look at it for you. let me know

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Originally posted by @Kate H. :

One of the houses we're looking at has some strange drywall issues (mold?). Has anyone seen anything like this before? It's in two different locations in the house, both facing the outside wall although there are no apparent issues from the outside. Does anyone know if this could be a serious problem or perhaps an easy fix? We're unfortunately not able to see it in person so our realtor provided us with these images.Hello.  I am in nothwest Dallas County and have almost 40 years of experience.

It might be because of plastic that a lot of cities made builders do.  But it would cause that kind of a problem.  They have since then backed off that idea.  That might be the problem.  I can't really tell from the picture you sent.  Good luck!

Most likely a roof leak trickling down the studs in the behind the sheetrock. I professionally cleaned hundreds of roofs from those ugly black streaks. Its an algae called gleocapsamagma. Its alive and eats your shingles searching for the cheap Limerick manufacturers use to make the shingles. Clean them before your roof starts leaking is the best way.

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