The rainy season is here in South Florida and if it’s any indication of the past month, it’s going to be a wet one. The June storm brought on by the feeder bands from Tropical Storm Andrea drenched the area with rain that measured in the double-digits over the course of the day. Many streets and homes were flooded, and many floors ruined.
Whether you have carpet, hardwood flooring, laminate, stone or tile flooring, when your home floods there is no doubt going to be water damage to the floor. The first step in dealing with flooding is to clean the floors. You want to make sure to remove any standing water. The longer standing water sits on your floor, the greater the damage will be. The excess moisture must be removed from both floors and subfloors. Use fans to help dry the wet surfaces. Follow with dehumidification to eliminate any additional signs of moisture intrusion. After the area has been dried and dehumidified, it should be treated with a disinfectant to keep mold from growing.
Flooding can wreak havoc on natural stone and tile floors. Flood waters carry debris, dirt and harmful contaminants that can cause staining and other problems. Often times, it will take months before you see the damage done by flooding.
If you have wall-to-wall carpet in your home and the floodwater was clean seepage, drying and cleaning by a professional may be all that is needed. However, if sewage-contaminated floodwater has come in, the carpet and padding need to be discarded and replaced as soon as possible. For carpet that has been soaked more than 24 hours, we recommend it be replaced.
If you can’t remove the carpeting, use a wet/dry vacuum to pull up the water; you want to dry the carpet as quickly as possible and circulate the air with the air conditioner and fans to minimize mold growth. A dehumidifier can help remove moisture from the air, but keep windows closed when using.
With hardwood floors, flooding causes the wood to expand and become wider. The floor boards will either buckle or cup, causing damage and an uneven floor. With hardwood flooring you need to dry the floors as quickly as possible and use a dehumidifier to remove moisture. As the moisture is drawn out of the air, it will also be drawn out of the floorboards, helping to counteract the cupping or buckling. Once the floor is thoroughly dried, it can be sanded and refinished.
Laminate flooring is not designed to hold up under flooding conditions, so if you flood you are going to need to replace the floor. Why doesn’t laminate flooring hold up in flood waters? Laminate flooring is constructed in layers: a wear layer, design layer, inner core layer and a backing layer. The top wear layer is backed by layers of particleboard, which when saturated with water can swell and warp. Standing water on a laminate floor can cause the seams between planks to swell.
No matter what type of flooring you have, if you have had flooding it’s highly recommended to have it evaluated by a flooring expert. The floor may appear fine, but an experienced expert will be able to identify signs of damage that you can’t or that may take time to appear.