Standing water and damp building materials are rich breeding grounds for mold, rot and bacteria. Professionals use moisture meters to identify how much moisture is present.
It is generally more cost effective to replace damaged flooring than repair it. The longer moisture remains in place the more damage it causes.
If you don’t take action after a water damage incident, mildew and mold will quickly begin to grow, wood floors will buckle and warp and metal materials may corrode. This can complicate flooring repairs, jeopardize your health and impose serious biohazard contaminants in some cases.
Start by shutting off the water source and plugging it if possible. Next, remove carpeting and rugs, as well as anything made of cloth that can’t be washed in hot water (such as clothing, books and stuffed animals). Open windows and doors and use floor fans, wet/dry vacs, air conditioners and dehumidifiers to push out the moisture. If the area still seems saturated, it’s time to call in a professional. The specialist will have tools to pump out and dry the space more effectively and quickly.
If water stains remain for more than a week, mildew, mold and fungi begin to grow. The wood in floors may swell, warp or rot and the structure of the house is at serious risk of damage. If the mold and mildew are allowed to progress, it will lead to health issues such as skin problems, rashes, headaches, nausea and fatigue.
Mold can cause respiratory problems and other serious illnesses. It can also release toxins that have been linked to cancer and other diseases.
After all standing water has been removed and any soaked materials have been discarded, it’s time to begin disinfecting. All surfaces should be scrubbed and disinfected with warm/hot soapy water and a chlorine bleach solution or other product labeled as a disinfectant. This is especially important for food contact surfaces like countertops and kitchen appliances. Be sure to wear a mask when cleaning and disinfecting areas with mold. It’s best to have professional help for severe water damage, especially if the floodwater contained sewage or other contaminants.
While clean water spills, like those from a bathtub or sink overflow, can be easily mopped up, gray and black water damage requires a much more thorough cleaning. This includes a deep scrub with wood-safe disinfectant and a dehumidification process.
A dehumidifier removes humidity and dampness from air by converting it to condensation and drawing it away into a tank that must be emptied regularly. It is especially important to use a dehumidifier in basements, where it can help prevent mildew and mold from growing.
Dehumidifiers vary in size and strength. Portable dehumidifiers are cheap and lightweight, but restoration professionals use industrial-grade machines that can run continually until the space is completely dry. They’re often placed strategically around the affected area along with other heavy-duty equipment such as industrial air movers. This helps to ensure that all materials are completely dry, preventing warping or other signs of deterioration. This also allows paints, cement and other construction materials to cure as needed.
During the drying process, a restoration specialist may notice signs of mold or mildew growth that could complicate Floor Water Damage Restoration. Mold growth not only jeopardizes floor repair, but also health and safety. If mold is found, a specialist will clean the affected areas to eliminate it.
The specialist will use large box fans and a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process. Then they’ll cut out water damaged subflooring following the chalk marks, cutting close to the floor joists. They’ll pry up the rotted materials and discard them in heavy-duty trash bags.
If the wood is severely warped or buckling, it’s probably time to replace the entire floor. Additionally, if the water meter has shifted, this is a sign of continuing water damage. All of these issues need to be addressed promptly before a permanent disaster occurs. Water damage under floors can be hidden, but is still a serious problem that requires immediate attention. If left untreated, the problem can worsen and lead to more expensive floor replacements.