Water damage doesn't have to be major to be a severe issue. The most common types of water damage only affect small areas, such as leaking pipes that damage the drywall immediately adjacent to the leak. Dealing with a water-damaged wall, though, must have the water damage restoration done correctly, or you could end up with rot and mold problems.
Any mitigation plan must begin with an assessment of the actual damage. Begin by checking the wallboard. Certain materials are more resistant to water damage. For example, wooden or plaster walls may experience very little permanent structural damage, but there may be some aesthetic damage, such as warping. Drywall and sheetrock, on the other hand, can become soft and begin to crumble.
Check the wall by pressing the tip of a screwdriver gently into the damaged area. If the tip easily sinks in, the damage had compromised the wall material and it will need to be replaced. If the wall is still firm, then you may be able to save it.
The next step is making sure mold doesn't take hold. If you are keeping the wall material, simply wipe down the surface with a diluted bleach solution to kill any mold spores on the surface. If there is already some mold growth, scrub well with the bleach solution, but keep in mind that mold and mildew stains may be permanent.
You must also make sure there is no moisture remaining in the wall, as well as handling internal mold growth. If the wallboard must be replaced, it is simple enough to remove it and thoroughly dry it out, and then clean the wall cavity with your bleach solution. If the wall can be saved and removal isn't possible, there is another strategy. A small hole can be drilled and an extruder used to dry out the interior of the wall. Then, a moldicide will be sprayed into the cavity to kill any mold spores.
For walls that can be saved, repair requires little more than patching up any holes from the drying and cleaning process, then applying fresh paint. Use a mold-resistant primer first, then a couple of coats of your preferred paint.
With damaged walls, you will need to cut out all of the damaged wallboard and then replace it with new. Only then can you primer and paint it for the full repair.
Contact a water damage restoration service for more help if you have damage to any of your home's walls.