A wood flooring can incidentally or accidentally get wet or flooded with water. A quick mitigation can be important in preventing further damage as well as restoring your floor. Therefore, what do you do if water spills on your hardwood floor?
Water is a great enemy to any wood and in particular hardwood floor, when the two mix the outcome can be devastating. Wood boards are highly absorbent and when exposed, they absorb it, swell and start warping.
The longer water-wood contact, the more it is absorbed and the deeper it gets. If you can act swiftly there will be high chances of saving your wooden floor from water damage.
Water is likely to penetrate into wood especially when the finished is damaged or not properly done. The seal may also get damaged when water is let to stays on the surface for a longer time.
There are also unseen cracks in the finished surface due to wear and tear that can still allow moisture to penetrate and reach the wood. Liquid spills can also enter through seams between the planks.
Engineered hardwood floors can still suffer the same fate with prolonged exposure to water. The adhesives used to attach the materials can get weakened.
Wooden floors can get wet in a number of ways; pet accidents, water spills while cleaning, pipe leakages, flooding from outside, hurricane or storm, toilet overflow, appliance leaks such as cloth or dish washing machines, leaking roof or through underground from a high water table.
Removing the water quickly and drying the floor reduces chances of a great damage and also prevents possibility of future molds growths which are hazardous to both humans and pets health. Uncleaned spills may also lead to dark stains on hardwood floors that are usually tough to remove.
How do you save your hardwood floor from water damage?
Before figuring out on how to save your wood from water, begin by establishing where the water is coming from and try to block. If it is a leakage from a pipe or an appliance, you can lock the control tap or knob. Here are further steps to take:
1. Remove any water soaked items from the floor
Soaked objects such as carpet, rugs and furniture has to be removed from the room and be taken outside in the sun or another area where they can dry. Ensure they are completely dry before you take them back inside. A damp carpet can cause a moldy and smelly floor as well as worsening the level of damage to the wood.
2. Soak or vacuum the water as much as possible
Immediately use towels or mops to soak up if you are dealing with small spills or puddles. For large accumulation of water, use a wet vacuum to suck up all water that is standing. Continue running the vacuum even if no water is visible on the floor. You will realize water is still collecting in the canister and you will have to continue for a while. This completely removes water even from the invisible wood pores and plank seams.
3. Clean the surface using a disinfectant
Small debris are likely to remain on the floor even after clearing the water. Such dirt particles could still be retaining some moisture that will enhance the growth of molds and thriving of bacteria. Use a disinfectant to clean without scrubbing the floor, apply your favorite hardwood floor cleaner, Rinse with a mop dampened with clear water and dry your floor.
4. Use a dehumidifier to completely dry the wood
Some traces of water that has penetrated the planks may still be intact even after vacuuming. A dehumidifier will help in completely drying the wood. Place it at the maximum output and set it at the center of the room and let it run for around 2 or 3 days.
5. Use fans to clear moisture
Set large fans to face the floor, open the windows slightly for about 3 inches and door wide open. Run the fans at the highest speed to drive out any moisture in the room. Ensure your fan is clean with no dust. You could also turn on your air conditioning system without any heat. Heat may cause wood cupping and splitting especially if it has not dried completely.
6. Dry a sub-floor if you have any
If there is a level below the damaged floor dry it as well. If there is a room beneath, place fans and open windows to drive away any moisture. Place another dehumidifier there and run it for 2 days. Do not open windows if it is raining outside as this will add more humidity.
7. Inspect if dry and check for molds
Molds grow mainly in humid and warm areas. Besides changing your floor appearance, they are dangerous to humans and pets when they grow in a home. They can cause allergy and affect respiratory system. If you see any sign, immediately scrub the wood floor with baking soda, vacuum and continue with drying process.
8. Conduct a moisture test
Your floor may take up to 5 weeks to completely dry. Use a moisture testing meter to establish if there is any moisture. If it detects any, then you will have to continue with the drying process. A moisture test is usually important before wood sanding, refinishing or replacing. Do not proceed with any activity unless the moisture content is between 6 and 9% respectively.
9. Sanding and Refinishing
For flooding or heavy water damage you will need to sand and refinish your wooden floor or replace the damaged boards. Water usually wears down most seals such as polyurethane and therefore need for replacement. A proper finish ensures protection against minor water exposure, minor damages and daily wear and tear.
What to do after a Hurricane or Storm
Serious flooding of your floor caused by a hurricane or a major storm need professional mitigation. You could contact a restoration expert who will come with relevant equipment to deal with the situation. Due to high demand of such services during a hurricane, the experts may take longer to arrive at your place. In the meantime, you can try as per our guide.
Insurance is another body to approach when your floor is severely damaged by floods. Few homeowners have flood insurance as part of their plans. Majority are covered under plans that take care of damages caused by mechanical problems such as broken pipes, power outage, toilet overflowing and house structural issues among others. But don’t hesitate to call your insurer in the event a bizarre situation.
Always act fast to save your wood floor from water damage due to a spillage or flooding. The longer it takes, the worse it becomes and the difficult in bringing back your floor back to life. Always perform regular cleaning and protect your floor against damages to keep it beautiful and long lasting.