Water Damaged Hardwood Floors

Damage often happens near entry ways or foyers. Major water damageHardwood floors for the most part have been affected by rain water that has been lashing at the front door for an extended period of time. It is not necessarily the door, but the threshold that may have failed to keep moisture out. Older building materials often break down allowing water to seep on or under the floor.

Areas Must Dry Out First!

Before any flooring replacement is considered the area must dry out. This must include removal of the threshold to check for rotten wood or caulking seals that may have disintegrated. Also with the constant abuse thresholds receive, fasteners may begin to loosen with daily foot traffic. Once one loosens, the whole integrity of the threshold can be lost.

Other areas that receive complaints from damage often are plumbing lines that lead to water sources. Rain runoff from the property should also be considered along with other preventive tips you can find on our pages that deal with moisture awareness below.

Fans & Dehumidifiers

The example shown below represents what a water extraction team did two hours after a washing machine flooded approximately 400 square feet (engineered glue down to concrete) of a kitchen and laundry area. The amount of water standing on the floor wasn’t any deeper than one quarter of an inch but had traveled into areas one wouldn’t think of drying out; under cabinets. Those with basements should also consider the drying out procedure from below the sub floor as well.

How do you get fans under kitchen cabinets? The team drilled holes into toe kicks that allowed forced air to circulate under the cabinets. Had this procedure not been followed mold accumulation would occur. Needless to say the dry out procedure did the job as everything was left in place for 36 hours. Keep in mind the time will vary depending on the extent of any water intrusion problem and how long it was left unchecked.

So how did this situation pan out? The insurance company set aside money for removing the affected 400 square foot area, along with the installation of new baseboards and some drywall repairs. If you’re thinking of just pocketing the insurance money think twice. We’ve seen a similar situation where there was no noticeable damage to the wood floor after the dry out period, yet six months later slight rippling became apparent on the surface of the floor.

Free standing dehumidifer
Fans forcing air under cabinets
Free standing dehumidifer
Air circulating under cabinets

Mold Issues

The longer a water damaged floor is left unattended Testing water damaged floorthe increased likelihood of mold growth. With the increased awareness of mold related illnesses (some say the asbestos issue of the 21st century) today, it becomes imperative a mold detection expert be called in for older damages left unnoticed if you desire good indoor air quality.

But Can My Solid Floor Be Saved?

Regarding solid ¾ inch hardwood floors. In essence what happens is the water has reached the underside of the floor boards where it sits. This begins to force the boards to swell laterally as they begin to absorb the moisture. As the boards have no room to expand in this direction the only direction is up. The term cupping comes into play as the board edges begin to crush against one another creating those wavy patterns you may see.

Some make the mistake of thinking the floor has dried out, call in an inexperienced finisher that fails to recognize the areas have not dried out properly. In some cases dry out time to eliminate cupping may take months after fans have been removed. In all cases moisture meters should be used to check levels.

Floor Is History. Time & Cost to Repair?

Naturally time and cost will vary. The example below called for replacement of fifteen boards and 12 hours labor. Smaller repairs like this, many professionals will charge for materials and labor. Labor can vary anywhere from $65 to $100 per hour. Keep in mind if you want it done right be careful with the very low estimates. The material part is the toughest as hopefully replacement material can be found. This is often more troublesome for older prefinished floors than that of traditional sanded and finished floors.
Water damage before
Water damage after
Water damage before
Water damage after
A few notes on the above repair. In this situation the customer had a box of leftover material from the original installation. Other areas did need replacement (dark areas at end joints) but attempts to find matching prefinished material failed, so they settled for fixing the more visible damaged areas.
Find Pros