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Although beautiful, the major risk of hardwood flooring is water damage. Damage from water does not even have to come from a catastrophic event like a flood. It can happen with minimal exposure to water over a long period of time.
Many people think of “flooding” as an act of nature, the source of flood damage often comes from accidental overflows in the toilet, washing machine or bathtub. One source that seems less obvious is house fires. While most fires do not involve the flooring at all, water from a fireman’s hose can create extreme water damage to a hardwood floor.
Slower leaks that may not be noticeable but still cause significant damage over time include areas underneath kitchen appliances like dishwashers or refrigerators, areas in front of the bathtub where water may splash frequently, or near windows with poor sealant. Often these slow leaks can cause more damage. Because they are not noticeable, they often go undetected until it is far too late.
Regardless of how the water damage happened, it is important to assess how long the floor has been exposed to water. If you suspect flood damage while you’ve been away from home, it is usually best to call a professional to inspect your floor, even if the damage appears minor on the surface.
Spotting Water Damage
Sometimes it can be harder to see the damage caused by slow leaks. However, there are usually a few signs that point to water damage:
- The presence of a whitish haze usually means minimal water damage only; but dark spots could mean that mold has set in. It could be possible to treat mold damage on your own, but if moisture has reached the sub flooring, it is best to call a professional.
- If your floorboards are sagging in the middle, it indicates that moisture is present underneath the floor. This often means that water soaked through the finish and is now present in the sub flooring. Sometimes floorboards will return to normal after drying, but often you will need to sand them, and in some cases replace them completely.
- If the floorboard appears bowed with the center higher than the ends, it means that there is more water on top of the board, rather than underneath. Similarly, a thorough drying may allow the floor to return to normal. Otherwise you will need to sand or replace the floor.
- If the floorboard pulls away from the subfloor, it indicates that there has been long term, consistent water exposure. In most of these cases the floor will need to be replace entirely.
- Although it may seem obvious in some cases, never assume that you know the full source of the water damage. You will need to consult a professional to make sure all sources of moisture are eliminated. Any noticeable moisture should be dried immediately.
Repairing Hardwood Floors After Water Damage
The amount of time and labor needed to repair a damaged floor will vary greatly depending on the severity of the damage, but a few basic steps will help guide your assessment.
- First, you need to discover the source of the water. Again, never assume you know the exact location of the source. Consult with a professional, even a plumber, to make sure you have eliminated all sources of moisture.
- Thoroughly dry any exposed areas. Towels will help, but most jobs will require dehumidifiers, and other professional drying equipment.
- Consult a professional to measure the amount of water found in your subfloor, and keep the results in your records. An insurance agent can most likely help you take this measurement.
- Inspect closely for molds, and if any is found, make sure it is dealt with thoroughly. Mold in the home is a major health hazard.
Sometimes it might be necessary to remove a portion of the floor in order to salvage waterlogged floorboards that have swollen. If done quickly enough, it can prevent further damage that might result in the entire floor being replaced.
Finding Professional Services
A Minneapolis – St. Paul hardwood floor repair professional from 651 Carpets will be able to provide a variety of services and equipment to help repair your floor in the most efficient manner possible. We offer advanced drying techniques and services to disinfect your floor. In the event that your floor cannot be salvaged, we will be able to install a new floor, or at least provide an educated cost estimate.