Water Damage – Drying Wood Floors

By Rick Hovanec

Hardwood floors provide a beautiful addition to a house that doesn’t fade when color fads change. They also survive flooding and other disasters better than other kinds of flooring or floor coverings due to their dense composition. They are not invulnerable though and do require certain maintenance if you wind up with water damage in your home. If this happens, you need to call an established water damage restoration company to make certain they are cared for properly.

Hardwood does not rot from exposure to water, and it resists picking up odors. Prolonged exposure causes the floorboards to buckle, cup and warp. This doesn’t mean they have to be underwater either. If the air moisture content (relative humidity) is too high, the effect is the same, just slower.

First, a restoration specialist will extract any visible water on the floor, then use a specialty floor drying system that utilizes mats to create a suction on the floor, drawing out trapped moisture. This will halt further damage. If possible, they will be placed underneath the floor to speed up the process. These specially designed fans will also remain in place until the humidity is reduced to at least 20 percent. This prevents mold growth if any spores are present on the wood.

All of this is needed to achieve the goal of getting the moisture content down to under 12 percent. This level has to be met before the wood can be properly sanded or refinished. If not, the wood will continue to buckle, cup and warp. The difference is that it will happen at a slower rate that you may not even notice until the floorboards begin to separate from the sub-flooring. Once this happens, the floor will have to be completely replaced.

Hardwood floors are much more resistant to damage from flooding than other types of flooring. Even with that, you cannot simply allow hardwood to dry on its own. It is important to call in an established water damage restoration company to inspect your flooring to determine if you need their services.