What to do about a Flooded Hardwood Floor

Jim Williams
Posted in:
Cleaning & Maintenance

It's no secret that wood and water don't mix. If your home or commercial space is furnished with a hardwood floor, you have to remember to keep the floor dry and clean at all times. Easier said than done, right? In truth, accidents do happen: water pipes can burst and rainstorms can bring in unwanted water. You must prepare for the rare instance of water damage on a hardwood floor.

Dealing With Minor Water Marks

Small water stains happen in most households. Unattended pools of moisture create discoloration to your hardwood floor. To remove small white stains from a hardwood floor, simply buff the finish with a piece of soft cotton cloth and hardwood floor cleaner or even toothpaste, believe it or not. Do not exert too much pressure; you don't want to wear out the finish.

Dealing With A Flood

God forbid a flood happens in your house or business, here are the steps to take to deal with a flood.

1.) The first thing you have to do is remove excess moisture immediately.

2.) If any mud or silt is present use a non-abrasive brush and non-sudsing detergent to remove it from the floor entirely. Be sure to get any dirt out the corners and cracks, and follow up with a thorough scrubbing, using a regular wood floor cleaning product.

3.) If the floor cups as a result of the flooding, complete drying is necessary. In homes with a controlled heating system, turn off any humidification system and heat the residence to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Set furnace blowers on manual and let them run continuously. If there is no controlled heating system, open all doors and windows on a dry, non-humid day to promote ventilation. You can also rent de-humidifiers and heaters from your local hardware store.

4.) Once the space is dried, assess the floor to see if you need to replace any of the planks. If the floor has separated from the sub-floor and has loosened, you will notice buckling. Buckling means there is still excess moisture under the floor, and you will need to replace the damaged area. Repairs should not be attempted until the floor system and the floor itself are completely dry.

Dealing with Residual Mold and Mildew

After the flooring system is dry, there are still a few more problems that can arise, including handling mold and mildew. Before replacing any of the hardwood flooring sections, deal with residual mold or mildew.

1.) Clean mildew by scrubbing with a mild alkaline solution such as four to six tablespoons of washing soda mixed with every gallon of water. Rinse the floor well with clear water, allow it to dry thoroughly, and refinish it with a mildew-resistant finish. To remove mildew stains or molds from unpainted wood, add four to five tablespoons of borax to each gallon of warm soapy water and wash the wood. Dry it immediately by rubbing it with absorbent cloth.

2.) If mold has grown beneath the varnish and into the wood, then the finish will have to be removed. Scrub the wood with an abrasive cleaner and add four to five tablespoons of borax to each gallon of warm soapy water. Then, sand the wood and bleach any remaining spots. Wash the surface with a very weak ammonia solution, about two tablespoons of ammonia per quart of water. Rinse with warm clear water and allow it to fully dry.

3.) After drying, some of the lesser buckled flooring may be pounded back into place with nails and a hammer, but be careful not to crack the hardwood floor by exerting undue and off-center force. Also, use the smallest nail possible. Sanding may also minimize these problems. However, later problems with finish or the floor itself may occur, and it is always advisable to consult a professional to determine if your floor needs refinishing, replacement, or further drying.

There is always hope for a flooded hardwood floor, but the remedies will certainly be a long and hard process. Just be patient with the drying and repairing processes. It may take weeks or even months before the floor will fully stabilize and for remaining cupped areas to flatten out.