Water damage on a hardwood floor can be a devastating sight. No homeowner wants to see discoloration to a bathroom floor, cracked floorboards in the living room, or black stains in the kitchen. Over time, real wood floors become worn with daily wear and tear. Varnishes lose their shine, finishes are scuffed, and boards are stained by daily use. With yearly maintenance and weekly cleaning, your hardwood floors can remain shining bright. However, water damage caused by a leak, excess humidity, or storm damage has the ability to ruin your beautiful hardwood if not acted on fast and efficiently.
What does Hardwood Water Damage Look Like?
Depending on the type of water damage that is affecting your hardwood floor, the evidence of water damage will look different. From water splashing outside your shower, to a leaky washing machine, or a broken pipe in your home’s foundation, water damage can affect your wood floors in a variety of ways. Whatever the reason, the first step is diagnosing the issue and acting quickly.
Minor Damage – Evidence of minor damage to a wood floor is a hazy or white stain on the surface. Treat this minor surface damage by buffing the surface with automotive polish or toothpaste, applying light pressure with a cotton cloth.
Severe Damage – When wood flooring is faced with severe damage, like a busted pipe or storm damage, signs are often obvious and need to be handled quickly to prevent permanent damage. Pooled water, squishy boards, and wet drywall and baseboard are common signs. Drying out the area is the first goal and if this can’t be accomplished quickly, homeowners should reach out to a trusted professional immediately.
Mold Growth – Signs of mold growth on your wood flooring is a black stain on the surface. Treatment of mold growth often includes removing the wax finish and treating the floor with oxalic acid crystals and hot water to kill the mold. After the mold has been treated, the area must be stained and sealed. Homeowners often hire flooring contractors or mold removal specialists to be sure the wood floor is treated correctly.
Subfloor Damage – A subfloor is the structural floor beneath the decorative finish of a hardwood floor. Subfloors are commonly made of plywood, but may be made of pine in older homes. Damage to subfloors can be seen from cupping, popping, or cracking boards.
Where Did the Water Damage Come From?
There are many areas of your home that can be affected by water damage. When water damage has been spotted, a floor to ceiling investigation needs to take place. Here are a few common areas that water damage can be traced to:
Broken Pipe Inside Home – Hidden in walls and cabinets, many of our household appliances have water pipes running to them. When a leak occurs, it can slowly do damage to the surroundings, including permanent and aesthetic damage to wood floors. When water damage is spotted near an appliance, such as dishwasher, sinks, washing machine, refrigerator, and hot water heater, turn off water to that appliance as step one to fix the leak.
Broken Pipe Outside Home – If you suspect the water damage may be caused by a broken pipe outside your home. Locate your meter and shut-off valve. If you find your meter is still running after you’ve turned off your shut-off valve, the leak is between your home and the meter.
Attic Leak – If drywall and ceilings in your home have also been affected by the water damage, an attic leak may be the source. Leaks can be checked by getting roof or attic access to your home. Checking for leaks in dark, confided, or slanted surfaces can be very dangerous, so please call a professional if this goes beyond your home improvement knowledge.
Broken Pipe in Foundation – A leak within your home’s foundation can be of the most costly and damaging to your hardwood floor. Leaks within the foundation not only are hard to determine, but require digging up the foundation to make the repair.
Surface Damage – A common cause of damage to hardwood floor is the surface damage and stains. Look for this type of damage near entryways, kitchen sinks, and bathtubs.
How to Prevent Water Damage to Your Hardwood Floor
Hardwood floors are a great asset to a home’s beauty and functionality. Here are a few tips to prevent causing water damage to your hardwood floors:
Keep areas dry of excess water. Consider entryways when it’s raining, floors leading in from the pool area, and stepping area when drying off after a shower or bath.
Do a yearly check of pipes leading to appliances. Change or repair the pipe at first sign of potential leakage.
Get ahead of storm season by repairing roof damage and door seals.
Be mindful of wet mopping wood floors. Consider changing your cleaning technique or be sure to completely dry the floor when completed.
Don’t go overboard with humidifier use. The excess humidity can cause too much water in the air.
Your Hardwood Floor Has Water Damage, What’s Next?
Each type of water damage requires a different method of repair. Excess water on your hardwood can damage the finish or cause the boards to expand. After you discover water damage in your home, it’s important that you act fast.
1) Find the cause. Common leaks include plumbing breaks, household appliance leaks, pipe damage, and tornado and hurricane damage. Do what you can to stop the leak once you’ve located it. Shut off the water to your home or leaky appliance to temporarily stop the leak. Consider the services of a leak repair specialist or a plumber, if repairing the leak goes beyond your home improvement expertise.
2) Dry the area. Start by soaking up all visible water. Next, keep the area well ventilated in order to dry it out. Keep the A/C on, open windows and doors near the area, and put on ceiling fans. Turn on kitchen and bathroom vents if the water damage is nearby. Consider buying or renting fans to point at the area. You may want to hire a contractor to professionally dry out your flooring. They will have access to a moisture meter, dehumidifiers, and water extraction vacuums.
3) Call your home insurance company. Reporting your claim to your home insurance company is an important step. Depending on your policy, fan rentals, full repair, wood finish and sealing, and mold repair may be covered.
If you weren’t able to catch the water until severe water damage has taken place, it’s likely your hardwood floor will need to be removed. Also, be mindful of potential mold growth after water damage has occurred. Florida is highly susceptible to mold growth due to the high temperatures and humidity.
If you have experienced water damage to your hardwood floor, the specialists at Accutech are here to assist you. Our trained technicians are happy to locate and repair your leak, as well as completely restore your home to its original condition. Along with floor restoration, our specialists are certified to restore tiled flooring, carpeting, paneling, ceiling, and drywall. Contact us today to find out more information about how we can prevent further water or mold damage and restore your home.