Removing drywall from a wall may sound like a pretty simple thing!
The truth is that is really is pretty simple, and there’s a couple key things to remember before getting too deep into the job.
One of the first things we look for is any electrical wiring or fixtures that might be located in the wall. For example, when we’ve got a receptacle, we know there’s going to be some wiring involved even though we don’t know if it’s coming up through the floor to that receptacle or whether it’s actually coming from above or from another direction behind the drywall.
In this way, we check all around the wall and on both sides to find all of the plugs and switches. This gives us a good idea of how much wiring may be in the wall and some idea of where it may be coming from.
Once we have this information, we can then turn off the electrical breakers at the breaker box. We always shut the power off to all those we identified earlier just in case we happen to nick one of the wires. If this happened, we could easily short something out and potentially even start a fire or even get electrocuted. These consequences are never good, so we avoid them at all costs. That’s one of the benefits of working with a licensed electrician is that they understand how all of this works!
Another important and potentially dangerous thing that could be in the wall is plumbing. Plumbing may be in the form of water lines, drain lines, or any other lines that may carry liquid. Plumbing may be a bit more difficult to find, but when you are cutting through a wall, you want to make sure you’ve checked everything first to prevent costly and potentially dangerous mistakes.
When working around larger plumbing fixtures such as sinks and bathroom showers, baths, etc, we always shut down the main water supply just in case.
The next thing that we do is remove all outlets, lighting and other fixtures from the wall we intend to demo. That means kick plates, lighting, HVAC covers and grates and anything else that may be attached to the wall. It’s important to get all of this out of the way before we start that demo. If not, we run the risk of damaging these items and potentially causing a dangerous situation for our crews.
We always remove baseboards as well. The way we do that is to use a pry bar to pull up one corner and that gives us the leverage needed to completely remove it.
The next thing we do is take our utility knife and go up to the top of the wall to cut along the corner seam. The reason we want to do this is because when the drywall was originally hung, there would have been a corner bead in there. If you don’t make the cut along that bead, then you risk ruining your ceiling by tearing the paper off with the drywall. That can cause a lot of unintended damage when we are trying to preserve the ceiling.
We then take a drywall saw and carefully make a cut through the drywall and take that cut down the wall horizontally. We usually pick a spot about 4 feet off the floor to do this and make sure it’s a hollow spot and not at a stud. The cut doesn’t necessarily have to be straight, it just gives us a starting point so that we can get a hold of the drywall. We are very careful when we do this to work around studs, and also so we can feel if we come up against a wire or anything.
Once we get the line cut all the way across, then we can actually start pulling off the drywall. We’ll take our prybar and get into the cut to start pulling the piece of drywall off. Sometimes the entire sheet will back off of the studs depending on how well it was installed, the types of screws, nails, or adhesive that was used. If it was installed really well, then we may have to take the drywall off in chunks.
Once we get the first bigger piece off, then we can see inside the wall and get a much better picture of any electrical or plumbing that might be in the way.
Depending on the size of the wall, we may make other vertical cuts to reduce the size of the drywall pieces that we are taking off to make sure no one is injured.
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