Tips On Saving Your Hardwood Floors From Water Damage
Water and wood…Naah not the best combination you would see. If you have recently experienced a hurricane or flooding in your area, chances are that water has already penetrated your house and is now sitting on that beautiful hardwood floor you once adored.
Water on hardwood floors can completely ruin is as wood absorbs water quickly and this results in warping and discoloration.
This makes it important to remove water and dry your hardwood floor on an “ASAP” basis to minimize the damage.
Saving Hardwood Floor from Water Damage
Your first 24 hours are the most critical because the longer the wood is flooded with water, the worse it will get by every passing hour. If you take quick and timely action to remove the water off the hardwood floor and also dry it properly, you can surely save it from a lot of damage.
However, doing all of this isn’t an easy task as you need reliable water pumping machine and a powerful dryer that will ensure all the water has been properly dried out. Even after that you need to sand and refinish your hardwood floor to make it brand new again.
Though at 24/7 Water Damage Restoration we can do all of this for you but if you have the required tools and equipment with you and want to do the job yourself, here are our best tips on removing water and moisture form your hardwood floor.
What Happens When Hardwood Floor Absorbs Water?
During flooding, when your hardwood is fully soaked into water, it will slowly begin to absorb it. There can be other reasons for water damage like toilet overflow, roof leakage, pipe bursts, etc.
When wood absorbs water, it begins to expand and cup or warp. This usually happens when the sides of the flooring swell and rise higher than the center of the board which creates an uneven surface. Even if the water on the hardwood floor is topical, it will still penetrate through those microscopic cracks between the planks or be absorbed by plywood sub-floor underneath the hardwood. Eventually it will loosen the glue beneath it and the floor will start popping up.
Whenever there is water damage, it is crucial for you to remove the water as soon as possible and dry the floors. This will not only save the hardwood flooring but also prevent mold growth which is a bigger problem and pretty expensive to fix. US EPA says that mold growth can start within 48-72 hours of water damage and can spready very fast.
Does Your Insurance Company Covers Water Damaged Flooring?
This is a common question we get asked by homeowners that whether or not their insurance company will cover the cost of damage. It depends a lot on your insurance plan and the cause of damage. Roughly 20% of the homeowners in USA have flood insurance. So, if the damage occurred due to flooding, meaning that water came from outside the house, your insurance company is most likely not to cover it.
However, if the damage was due to a mechanical issue like pipe leakage, water heater bursting or toiler overflow etc. or even a structure damage to the house like roof leakage and ice damaging, then your insurance company is bound to cover the damages.
You should call your insurance company for further details on this.
If it is the policy that your insurance company will cover the damage, they will also be bound to pay for every other damage which is associated with the claim. This includes mitigation, water removal, damaged furniture and to restore the house in its original condition. However, paintings and floorings are deducted.
What to Do After a Hurricane or Major Storm
If the water damage is serious, the best thing to do is call a professional water or flood damage restoration company like us. We are experts in this area and have all the equipment that are required to bring back your property to its original condition. We know that during flooding every homeowner would be calling restoration companies. Don’t worry! We have a huge staff of certified members who are available 24/7 to help you recover your loss.
We highly recommend to call us if you just experienced a major storm. The sooner you call the shorter will be wait and lesser will be the damage to your property.
In the meantime, follow these tips on saving your hardwood floor and other valuables till we reach your location:
1: Find & Stop the Source of Water
Your very first step should be to find the source of water and stop it immediately. If water continues to penetrate the hardwood floor, you wouldn’t stand a chance to save it. Best is to find the problem and take every possible step to stop it before it gets worse.
2: Remove other wet items out of the area
Quickly remove all the wet furniture and other items outside in the sun or at least move them to a dry place. If you are moving the items to another room or place, make sure that the place has a waterproof floor or there is a layer of plastic between the floor and furniture.
If there is any carpeting on top of the hardwood floor, remove the carpet and the padding immediately. Carpets absorb water at a much higher rate than wood so they tend to get moldy and smelly first. Also remove any tack strips as they are sharp and may hurt you while doing all of the restoration work yourself.
3: Use a wet vacuum to suck up all the standing water
You definitely don’t want water to just stand there and damage your property. Best is to use a wet vacuum to quickly absorb as much water as you can. This process should be left with professional mitigation company like us as we have the special water extraction equipment that can suck the water quickly.
Important: Depending on the nature of water damage, you may have to remove the base boards and some sections of the drywall as well. This may sound like a daunting task but is very important as it helps to avoid mold growth because drywall absorbs water like a sponge which can cause it to accumulate to much moisture. Flood damage companies usually remove drywall 18-inches above the highest point that the water has reached to ensure that the removed part is completely dry
4: Cleaning the Surface with a Disinfectant
The most important thing is to prevent mold to preserve your hardwood floors. You may also use a non-sudsy disinfectant for this purpose. After finishing up, use a wet vacuum to remove the leftover water.
5: Using a Dehumidifier
Most likely you will have a dehumidifier at home. It is time to make the most of it. Simply place it in the center of the room. If you have more dehumidifiers, you can also place them in the same room. Ensure that you clean the water every few hours until help reaches. The dehumidifier should run for at least 24 hours and up to three days or even longer if required. We recommend using it for several week. You should also limit foot traffic to the area while the floors are drying.
6: Use Large Fans
You can speed up the drying process by using large fans. Make sure to point the fans towards the floor and also keep the windows open for better ventilation. Fans will help to evaporate the excess moisture and also create better ventilation which is required. In case it is raining heavy outside or the temperature is humid, keep the windows shut. Only let the rooms doors open and use the dehumidifier continuously. Also make sure that the fans are on the highest level and set to full speed. If there is an oscillation feature, that is a plus.
You can also supplement your fans with air conditioning but do not apply any heat. Heat will cause splitting and cupping which is not good and will result in more moisture on the area which leads to mold growth.
Finally, ensure that fans are clean and there is no dust on them before you turn them on. All the plugs and wires should be out of reach of water.
7: If There is a Level Below the Water Damage Area, Reduce the Moisture in the Sub-floors as Well
There is a high chance that water would have seeped through the leakages and holes and reached the sub-floor underneath the hardwood floor. You have to dry this area as well. If there is a room underneath the damaged area along with an unfinished ceiling it will help a lot. Use fans in this room as well along with a dehumidifier to speed up the process.
In case the ceiling is finished, you can then cut a small square hole in the ceiling which will help the sub-floor to dry out faster.
8: What If Boards Start to Pop-up?
There is a high chance that wood will swell as it absorbs moisture which will cause the wood buckles to pop-up. You won’t be able to walk across the floor; in which case you should remove a board or two for better ventilation of the sub-floor.
9: Check for Signs of Mold or Mildew
Once the floor has dried out completely, you should check for signs of mold of mildew. You may smell or see any signs of growth in which case you should immediately scrub the floors using a mixture of baking soda and water. If the mold has spread out too much, you can consult a mold/remediation company. Here at 24/7 Water Damage Restoration, when we look after your property for flood damage restoration, we take care of mold and mildew as well.
10: Using Moisture Meter
On average it can take up to 6 weeks for the floors to fully dry. During this, it is extremely important that you wait for the floors to dry before you think of sanding them. If you are too impatient, you will have to face the consequences very soon.
To ensure that the floor has dried out completely, use a moisture meter to test the moisture content present in wood. These are very inexpensive instruments, easily available online. Before you sand the floor, use the moisture meter and test for moisture in multiple places. Chances are that some areas on the floor would have more moisture than the others. Ideally, the moisture content should be between 6-9% before you think of installing hardwood or sanding it.
Your insurance company might be in a rush to close the case. You should let this happen; else you will face more damage later on.
11: Sand & Refinish the Hardwood Floors
This is where you will want to sand and refinish your floors to get the clean and aesthetic look back. The water would have worn out the polyurethane and some portions or pieces may require complete replacement. Even if you see some polyurethane left on the floor, it will be a lot thinner and somewhat compromised as well, which means it won’t last for too long. So, the best idea here is to refinish the floors.
Majority of the water damaged floors can be sanded and refinished. If there is minor cupping, it will sand out during the process. In most of the cases, only the damaged sections require replacement but it all depends on how much water was absorbed and how well the floor was dried. Best option here is to get in touch with professionals.
Notes on Finding Contractors
While it is entirely up to you as to which contractor to choose, you aren’t obliged to use the contractors that your insurance company recommends. As a matter of fact, this is illegal for them to do this. You should call the one with which you feel comfortable. As a reputable company we take pride in the quality of our work and highly recommend you to hire us in case of an emergency. You can check out reviews form other people about our services.
You never know when a calamity strikes your home. Flooding can put a great toll on your hardwood and the only way to ensure that your beautiful floor remains the same is to quickly get rid of water. Though the above tips will help you a lot but surely, they cannot be performed in a timely manner from a single person alone.
So, don’t hesitate to hire 24/7 Water Damage Restoration experts. Call us today and get a free of cost estimate.