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Help! There’s a Water Bubble in My Wall: What Should I Do?

You’ve recently noticed blisters or bubbles behind the paint on your walls. You suspect water damage, and you’re wondering what to do.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

With over 20 years of experience in the water damage restoration industry, we’ve helped hundreds of Chicago-area customers get rid of water bubbles in their walls, and we know exactly what it takes to fix and repair them.

In this blog, we’ll help you learn how to handle water bubbles in your wall, why they form in the first place, and how to avoid them.

Why Is There A Bubble In My Wall?

why is there a bubble in my wall

There are a few common causes for bubbles in the wall. 

They include the following:

  • Trapped moisture. Trapped moisture is the most common reason for paint blisters or bubbles. In some cases, moisture gets trapped during the painting process, especially if the area has high humidity or if the building materials (like drywall) were wet before painting. Once moisture is trapped under the paint, it forms a bubble or blister. Sometimes, the blister will pop, and the paint will peel off the surface. 
  • Leaks from plumbing fixtures or a leaky roof. Sometimes, plumbing or roof leaks (common after rain) can cause blisters or bubbles on painted surfaces. Over time, the moisture from these leaks damages the drywall behind the paint, which can cause widespread sagging, blistering, or bubbling in your ceiling or walls. 
  • Poor-quality paint. Occasionally, blisters or bubbles on a painted surface have less to do with the surface than with the paint on top of it. Low-quality paint often contains fillers, which make it difficult for the paint to adhere to a surface. In some cases, this can cause bubbles and blisters to form. How the paint was applied also matters – using a roller or brush incorrectly can introduce air bubbles that remain once the paint is dry. 
  • Heat. Excessive heat can cause bubbles to form in the paint. Sometimes, hot temperatures can cause the thinners in fresh paint to vaporize and expand, which leads to blistering and peeling. 
  • Paint applied on incompatible surfaces. Paint doesn’t adhere to every surface, and using the wrong paint on the wrong surfaces may cause bubbling or blistering. Examples include painting dusty, dirty drywall, painting walls covered in a thin layer of grease or dirt buildup, painting door jambs that were not properly cleaned or prepared, and trying to apply water-based latex paint over oil paint without priming the surface first. 
  • Improper thinning of paint. If too much thinner or diluting agent is added to the paint, it may cause the paint to bubble. This occurs because the thinner compromises the paint’s binding agents, causing air bubbles to form.

If you’re not sure why the paint on your walls is bubbling or blistering, remember that moisture is the most common cause. 

One easy way to check for moisture problems is to purchase a moisture meter from your local hardware store or request a water damage inspection from a professional team like ServiceMaster of Lake Shore. 

Should I Pop The Water Bubble?

water bubbles ceiling

If you’re relatively confident that the moisture behind a water bubble comes from a clean water source, like a roof leak, it may be okay to pop it. 

If you suspect that the water behind the bubble may be wastewater (from a plumbing leak or toilet overflow, for example), do not pop it. 

Doing so can expose you to unclean or contaminated water, making you and your family sick. 

Instead, contact a water damage restoration company for immediate service.

Regardless of where the water bubble occurs, remember that it is usually an indication of something much more serious. 

Behind the bubble, there’s usually extensive water damage and, perhaps, mold

Whether you choose to pop the bubble or not, you’ll need to address the damage that caused it before you can repair the area. 

How to Fix a Water Bubble in Your Wall

Anytime a water bubble is caused by contaminated water, you’ll need professional assistance to repair the bubble and fix your wall.

However, if you don’t suspect contaminated water, you can drain the bubble and repair the damage. 

Here’s how:

1. Pop the bubble

Spread a layer of clean towels on the surface beneath the water bubble. 

Cut a slit into the bubble at its lowest point using a sharp knife. This prevents the bubble from forming a “cup,” which catches water as it drains. 

Use your hand to squeeze the bubble from top to bottom to remove all water and air pockets from behind it.

2. Peel back the paint

Next, you’ll need to use a paint scraper to remove the paint from the affected surface and assess the damage.

Inspect the surface for signs of mold growth, including discoloration or a musty odor. Be sure to feel the drywall behind the water bubble. 

If it’s soft and squishy, you’ll need to remove that portion of drywall.

3. Allow the area to dry

Use dry towels to pat the affected area and remove any remaining moisture. 

Next, place some fans in the area to remove any remaining moisture before you begin your repairs. 

Remember that it can take as long as two days for the area to dry, especially if the bubble was large or contained a lot of water. 

4. Repair the damage

If you have to replace drywall, do that before you begin repainting.

Even if you didn’t remove drywall, place a thin layer of spackle over the damage to create a dry surface for the paint to adhere to. 

Once the spackle is dry, paint and prime the area as you normally would.

What to Avoid Doing

You’ll cause more damage if you do any of the following:

  • Pop a bubble if you’re not sure where the water came from. If you recently had water damage from sewage backup and now you’re noticing water bubbles, you should not pop them on your own. Because the likelihood of encountering more contaminated water is so high, contact a professional restoration company for assistance.
  • Rush through the repair. After a water bubble forms, you’ll need to drain it and allow the area to dry completely. If you rush this process or paint on a surface that’s still damp – even slightly – you may wind up with the same problem all over again.
  • Pop large bubbles. If the water bubble is very large or located in a sensitive area, like the ceiling or near electrical fixtures, do not pop it on your own. Instead, contact a water damage professional for more assistance. 

Tips to Prevent Paint Bubbling

 prevent paint bubbling

Prevent paint bubbling (and frustrating repairs) with these tips:

  • Always make sure the surface is dry before you paint.
  • Hire a professional to repair water-damaged areas before you paint or refinish them.
  • Use high-quality paint that’s been professionally thinned or diluted
  • Clean and prepare all surfaces before painting.
  • Always use primer on surfaces that were previously painted with oil-based paint.

Are you Dealing with Water Damage in Chicago or Suburbs? We can Help!

Water damage can cause all sorts of problems, including blisters and bubbles on painted surfaces. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to deal with these on your own. 

The ServiceMaster of Lake Shore team is standing by to help you address and repair water damage and reclaim your space. 

Contact us today to request your free quote!