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Wood Floor Water Damage

Dealing with wood floor water damage is something you hope never to have to do. But it does happen. Running faucets, burst pipe you didn’t know about (low hot water pressure can be a hint of a link somewhere), sitting water you were unaware of, whatever the cause, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do right now to your water-damaged hardwood floor so that you can prevent any more damage from being done to it.

Steps to Take If You Have Hardwood Floor Water Damage

Step 1 – Identify the Source

Seeing water on your hardwood floors can cause immediate panic. Take a deep breath and identify where the water is coming from. Once you have identified the source, turn off the water or ensure that there is no more water to come from where it originated.

In our case, it was a leaking flexible hose under the sink; luckily, our wifi water sensor notified us.

Step 2 – Remove the Water Fast

Getting the water off your hardwood floors is something you need to do quickly. Wood soaks up water because it is a porous material, and time is of the essence at this point.

Dry your wood floor with towels, or if you have a Wet Vac (it’s an essential homeowner tool), vacuum up the water and dry off the remainder with a towel.  The longer the wood is exposed to water, the more it can soak up, causing the wood to swell.

If the water has been on your wooden floor for some time, then the boards may begin cupping. They may dry out and flatten out again, but you will need to give them some time.

Placing a fan in the area to move the air around can help dry the wood faster. Having a dehumidifier is also a great thing to have. It will remove the moisture from the air and wood. Heaters are another good way to dry out the floors. If it’s possible, open the windows and run fans to circulate the air more effectively. This can help speed up the drying of the wood floors. At this point, you are trying to remove the moisture that has gone into the wood.

The more you can remove the water and moisture, the better you are to save your hardwoods. This may take some time (up to a week), depending on how long the floors have been exposed to the water.

Click here to see some good dehumidifiers

Step 3 – Inspect the Wood Floor and Clean

Once you have removed the water, inspect the wood floor to see what kind of damage has been done. Give the wood time to dry out while you complete the next few steps.

There are two types of damages that may not be immediately visible. The first one is cupping. This is when the ends of the floorboard are higher than the middle, caused by the wood absorbing the water and swelling.
The other is called crowning, and it is the reverse of cupping. It is when the middle of the hardwood plank rises up instead.

Because the water will have seeped into the pores of the wood, you will want to give it a good cleaning to make sure that the damage is in the wood and not a superficial stain on top. Also, depending on the type of water, you will want to make sure you take the proper precautions in cleaning it up and using the right cleaning supplies.

Related: What to do if you have wet carpet in your basement.

Step 4 – Contact Your Insurance Agent

Depending on your insurance and the cause of the water damage, the repairs or replacement could be covered under your house insurance. The amount of coverage you have (if any) will be depending on your policy, but a call to them is a good step to take while you wait for the wood to dry.

Step 5 – Contact a Hardwood Repair or Refinishing Technician

They will come in and inspect the flooring and use a moisture meter to determine how much water is in the wood and decide what the best steps are from there.

Step 6 – Remove and Replace or Refinish the Hardwoods

Depending on your area, you will either need to replace the existing hardwoods with new flooring, or you will have to refinish the floor by sanding it down, restaining, and sealing it. If the cupping is severe, you likely need to replace the wood, as sanding it down will not be enough.

If the water damage is fairly localized, and you have extra wood from when the hardwoods were installed, then you can remove the damaged planks and replace them with new ones after you have dried the subfloor and surrounding area.

Determine how big of an area you will need to replace (use this square foot calculator), and then use this hardwood flooring calculator to determine your cost to replace it.

Do Damaged Hardwood Floors Need to Be Replaced?

Just because your floor has some water damage does not mean that they need to be replaced; you will need to consider the following:

  1. Source of the Water – Was it clean, greywater, black, or saltwater. Each of these has its own issues.
  2. Visibility of Damage – Can you see the damage, or does it not appear to show the water damage?
  3. Amount of Damage from the Water – How long was the wood exposed to water

Read More About Wood and Water Damage Issues:

Final Thoughts on Water Damaged Wooden Floors

While having water damage on your wood floors can be devastating, there is no need to panic. Take these steps one at a time and determine if you can do the repairs on your own or if the damage requires a professional.