Originally Posted by ctc
Thanks Nestor_Kelebay! Should be even concerned about the water damage on the ceiling/wood at this point? Would you recommend that I replace them? My house is 6 years old, so woods are not that old.
How long does it take to dry out? The plaster is very soft near the water lines. Will it do any bad damage in a long run if I don't replace them? Do you think I still might have some water left there that need to be let out?
No, you don't have to be concerned about the wood. Wood handles the occasional flood much better than most building materials. Your wood won't be affected.
If your house was built 6 years ago, you won't have plaster on your ceiling, you'll have drywall.
What you're likely to see as the ceiling dries out is some areas where the paint peels off and the joint compound between the drywall sheets may be rough. In some areas, the paint itself might roughen. Just wait until the ceiling is completely dry, and then scrape off the loose paint using a tungsten carbide blade paint scraper. This paint scraper has a blade that normally won't cut into drywall in good condition, and if you're careful, it hopefully won't cut into the dried up drywall on your ceiling.
Repairing drywall is not very hard. Just buy some "all purpose" joint compound, thin it with water so that you can spread it easily and spread it on the ceiling with a standard 11 inch by 5 inch wide plastering trowel. When you do that, have a helper hold a bright light close to the ceiling to cast critical lighting on the ceiling which will make the ceiling look rougher than it really is. An inexpensive flood light works well for this. You both apply joint compound and scrape or sand it smooth with the aid of a bright light close to the ceiling shining on it at a sharp angle to make it look rougher than it really is. Apply the joint compound and sand it smooth only in those areas where the ceiling looks rough. When the ceiling looks "not as bad as it was" under that critical lighting, it'll look "not too bad" under normal lighting. When it looks "not too bad" under critical lighting, it'll look pretty good under normal lighting. And so on. By working with the aid of a light shining at a sharp angle to the surface, you get a better idea of where you need to apply joint compound and where you need to remove it to get a smooth surface. It's really a matter of getting the surface smooth. If it's smooth, it will seem flat for lack of evidence to the contrary.
I would leave the ceiling alone until it's dry to the eye and the touch everywhere. Then, I would buy a cheap "hygrometer" from Lee Valley or any place that sells hobby supplies. A hygrometer is a meter that measures relative humidity. Split a clear plastic bag open and tape three sides of that plastic over the worst part of the ceiling using painter's masking tape (which can be removed without damaging the paint, hopefully. Slip in your hygrometer, face side down so you can read the scale, and tape down the 4th side. Now, check the hygrometer reading for another month, or until the relative humidity stabilizes. Once it's stabilized, then there's no more moisture evaporating from the ceiling. Then you can start your repairs.
The only time you should poke a hole in your ceiling to allow water to drain away is if you see water "blisters" forming behind the paint. You're probably gonna have to repaint the ceiling anyway, so there's no harm done in wrecking the existing paint. The water that spilled onto your ceiling spread out under the ceiling joists and got absorbed into the ceiling drywall and joint compound before the first drop of water dripped from the ceiling. All the drywall up there is soaking wet anyway, cutting a hole in it isn't preventing damage, it's causing more damage.
Just give the ceiling time to dry and then plan to repair it once it's completely dry. It isn't that hard. I've been fixing plaster and drywall (along with fixing everything else in my building) for over 20 years, and it's not that hard to do.