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How to dry out water under hardwood floor boards

Hi--

 

My washer leaked water into the hallway and the hardwood floor boards. Pretty sure there's water under the floor boards because I can hear a slight squishing sound when I step on the boards where the water was.

 

What's the best way to dry out the water? Worried that the wet will cause the wood to warp or mold.

 

Thanks!

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Posted 2012-01-07T19:52:13+0000  by ktjen ktjen
 

DryHero Water Damaged Wood Flooring Drying Service for Lincoln Nebraska

 

I own and operate DryHero and I've been drying water damaged buildings for over twenty years now.  In my experience in Lincoln Nebraska, water damaged wood flooring is an "it depends" type of evaluation.  Laminate, composite and engineered floors are great but they do not tolerate any significant level of moisture or water damage to their wood.

 

RESTORING A WOOD FLOOR

 

1.         Determine of the floor is salvageable.  Solid wood floors that have cupped but are not completely buckled stand the best chance for restoration.  

 

2.         Remove the bulk moisture.  Most of the moisture absorbed by a wood floor is not from the top surface but from the bottom.   Wood will continue to slowly absorb water if there’s a source for it to draw from.  Not removing the bulk water can cause the floor to continue cupping, even after the drying system is in place.

 

3.         Installing vacuum panels.  Professioanl water damage vacuum panels are the only way to dry a wood floor. Since the vacuum panels pull air through the flutes of the flooring, it’s more important to cover the highest number of planks as possible.  

 

4.   The faster you can dry the floor, the better off you’ll be.  Time is working against you.  Mold is capable of growing on most materials with a relative moisture level of 16% or higher.  A water damaged wood floor can remain above 18% MC for over a month.  The moisture, temperature and dust layer beneath a wet wood floor provides a pretty good environment for mold.  Leaving wet floors naturally air dry is not worth the potential risk.

 

5.  Apply the drying pie.  Basic drying principals must be respected with trying to save a cupped wood floor.  1) Temperature must be high enough to allow evaporation. Dry air, REALLY DRY AIR, is necessary when drying such a dense material.  This is when you bring in desiccant dehumidification.  3) Airflow.  This is where most restorers fail.  The finish on a wood floor allows very little moisture to move through it.  You can’t dry a wood floor by simply placing airflow on its surface.  Specialty drying systems are needed to achieve sufficient airflow through the floor to produce superior drying results.   

 

NEVER SAND A WET, CUPPED FLOOR

You never sand a wood floor until it’s completely dry.  Back in the 1990's, the company I was working for had a water damage restoration project that had cupped oak flooring.  About a month after we refinished the floor we received a call from the customer where he stated that the floor looked like a “washboard”.

 

Upon closer inspection, the floor was indeed crowned. We had to refinish the floors for the second time in two months.  Needless to say, this was embarrassing for the company and a major inconvenience for the customer. 

 

If you have questions regarding water damaged hardwood flooring, call us at DryHero at 402-438-2379 or visit  http://dryhero.com/services/water-damage-hardwood-flooring/

Posted 2013-08-26T14:35:08+0000  by dryhero

Hi ktjen,

 

Thanks for your great question and welcome to the community!

 

Sorry to hear about your squishy hardwood floors :smileysad:

 

In this post, I am going by what you stated the floor is,  solid (5/8" or thicker) hardwood planks, and not engineered, click-lock wood, or laminate flooring systems.

 

You said that you still hear water underneath the planks, and this quite frankly will be a tall order to dry out the hardwood floors without getting any accessibility to the subfloor underneath. In fact, the sound you maybe hearing could be the subfloor (if it is wood) as well as the hardwood planks themselves. 

 

 First inspect your entire floor before going over any of the steps below on the surface to check for any discoloration or failure of the top coat polyurethane and/or stain on the wood planks as well. Water hit the surface which is luckily a first line of defense, but if those layers were broken down, replacing them is necessary.  If refinishing them maybe in order, replacing a section or plank of the floor will be easier, as shown below...... 

 

The only sure-fire way to assist drying out your wood floor in a timely manner is to remove a plank/piece/segment/area of the floor and/or edge and from there, you can get access underneath. However, you may run into things such as if the wood was glued down, and running into damaging board(s) once you get a plank off. Water has to have an escape route to evaporate, so that is why you will need to create one for it, be it a plank in the middle of the room and/or a perimeter around its edge by removing floor moulding and creating a gap on the edge of wall where it meets the floor.

 

Without performing the steps above, the only other option I can think of would be to keep the room well ventilated, and see if you can get access to the floor from underneath and check moisture there. If you do decide to take up a board and you can put the old board back in safely (or find a replacement plank), please look at the images below to ensure a proper removal of a plank.

removing hardwood plank.jpg

Then there is the age-old method of letting the floor dry out as is, and giving the hallway proper ventilation on top by using a box fan or air mover to blow air aross the surface of the hallway. Depending on how much water spilled and how the wood was affected and install will determine how much the wood, if ever, will warp. While we do sell screws specifically made for floors to drive in the planks inconspicuously, I realize it won't solve any issues that may come up if you see mold spores coming up.

 

However, there is one item that can and will work best for stopping AND preventing mold/mildew. That product is called Concrobium, and shown below, it's a great item I would use on your hardwood floors and areas that meet the wall....

concrobium.jpg

As stated before, if you let the water dry out naturally, a lot of polyurethane and floor base moulding should of helped stop any moisture from going through the planks. However, if you run into soft or rotted spots, consider using a wood hardener to assist in getting the wood strong again. 

 

Good luck with this, and please update here for any further questions/comments you may need.

 

Regards,

aboveaveragejoe

Posted 2012-01-07T21:54:22+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
 
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