When water collects in any area of the house for an indefinite time period, there is bound to be some damage. With wooden floors, the possibility for damage is further exacerbated as it is not always visible. Left unchecked, water damage can entail a lot of expensive repairs, particularly for hardwood floors.
6 Common Causes of Water Damage to Wooden Floors
Many people assume that water damage occurs after heavy rainfall, flooding or burst pipes. However, sometimes, an unnoticed leak could also be responsible. It’s a good idea to know all the possible causes so you’re not caught by surprise. The following are the most common causes of water damage to wooden floors:
1. Leaky Pipes
Pipes don’t always burst, many of them just leak. A small leak can also ultimately contribute to extensive water damage. It’s a good idea to always check the pipes when you spot a leak anywhere.
Increased rainfall can collect in different areas of the house. Your roof and attic are the most susceptible portions of the house; but rainwater can also collect in your basement as well.
3. Ice Damming
This happens when ice creates a small dam of water in your roof. While it commonly occurs there, it is possible for ice damming to happen in the basement as well. The collected water is unable to drain and will stay there until the ice melts.
4. Overflow of Toilet
Malfunctioning toilets can make it very common for an overflow in your plumbing. If it occurs frequently, it can start to allow moisture to collect on the sub-floor level of your hardwood floors.
5. Appliance Malfunction
Malfunctioning dishwashers and washing machines can also cause a lot of water damage. They’re also usually situated in the basement or a small room where excess humidity can collect and lead to moisture damage and mold.
6. Increase in Water Table Height
If the height of the natural water table increases, it could increase moisture in the sub-floor levels. This can not only result in damage for hardwood floors but also increase the chances of structural damage.
All of these scenarios increase the moisture and humidity levels in the home. If addressed properly, it is possible to avoid getting water damage. With a 70/30 chance of water damage to wooden floors, it’s always best to apply the proper measures, even if you aren’t sure.
4 Common Signs of Water Damage on Wood
Damage to wooden floors in your home should be identified and fixed as quickly as possible. Knowing the common signs is a necessity. The following are some of the most common signs of water damage on wood.
1. Soft Boards
This is a sign when water damage has occurred to a large extent. Soften floorboards are completely rotted and drying won’t always improve them. They have to be completely replaced. In this case, the moisture has also reached the sub-floor level and could have even spread to another floor. Damage is usually extensive when you have soft, wooden floorboards.
2. Swelling of Planks
This is another sign of prolonged water damage. The wooden boards will absorb the excess water to the point where they start to swell. This also pushes the other planks and the edges will start to rise. You’ll end up with an uneven surface. In many cases, this can allow water to seep into the cracks and to the sub-floor level.
3. Cupping of Planks
Sometimes, the boards won’t always swell when they absorb excess water. They can start to warp and cup upwards or downwards. This gives them an uneven finish as well. Much like with swollen boards, the water can seep down into the sub-floor level.
4. Appearance of Mold
Water damage, particularly to wooden floorboards increases the chance of mold. Signs of mold include obvious mold, or you might just smell the mildew. Proper treatment is essential at this point. If not contained properly, the mold can spread to other areas of the flooring and negatively impact indoor air quality.
These are the most common signs of water damage and you should always try to get help immediately. To correct water damage, prompt response and treatment can make a bigger impact.
How Can You Fix It?
Fixing wooden floorboards that have suffered water damage can be time-consuming but it’s not impossible. Additionally, you don’t always need to get them replaced. With prompt action and a good solution, it is possible to reverse the water damage done.
Identify the Source of the Water
The first thing you need to do is identify the source of the excess water and fix it. If the water damage is happening because of a leak, it won’t be solved until you fix the source. Leaky pipes will continue to increase moisture levels. A rising water table can require a bigger fix than just changing the floorboards.
By identifying the source of the moisture, you can start to work out a proper solution. The good news here is that most water damage is usually superficial and can be fixed quickly. Nonetheless, to be on the safe side, carefully evaluating the source is a good idea.
Dry the Area Properly
The first thing you need to do is to start by drying the area. Mop up or wipe away excess moisture. To make sure that you’re getting the water out, you can also use a water vacuum cleaner. This allows you to remove moisture that might have seeped deep into the wood.
Always make sure that when you want to dry the area, you do not apply any heat. The heat tends to create the perfect environment for mold to form. Instead, use large floor fans that are aimed at the floor. In some cases, you will have to make sure that the sub-floor is dried first. If the sub-floor remains moist, the underside of your wooden floorboards will not dry properly.
Ventilate the Area to Reduce Moisture
When you are propping up fans to use on the floorboards, make sure to open your windows, a little bit. Additionally, open the doors of your room and other connecting doors. This improves inner ventilation. If there is too much humidity indoors, you might have to use dehumidifier in the room to get rid of the moisture in the air.
You should also keep an eye on the weather conditions. If it is raining or if it is too humid, you should keep your windows closed. Using a dehumidifier will also be required for two to three days. You will have to leave it running on a 24/7 basis.
Looking for Signs of Mold
Once you have dried out the wooden boards and the subfloor, look for signs of mold. The most obvious sign is going to be a slight, musty smell. This is a sign of mildew. When this happens, you will have to treat the boards to kill any mold spores. If you don’t try to stop them at this point, the mold can begin to grow and spread.
You should also be careful when you see signs of mold. Some mold can be black mold which is very dangerous for your health. Exposure to mold can also lead to toxic poisoning which can lead to health complications.
Check the EMC – Equilibrium Moisture Content
It’s not always possible to identify the extent of moisture damage or how much it has spread. Instead of hacking away at your wooden floor, you can easily use an electronic meter to check for excess moisture. This is also a very useful tool to identify signs of water damage on the subfloor.
When looking at these readings, make sure you note them down with the date you checked them on. Many insurance companies can require credible proof of water damage. With an EMC reading, you can strengthen your claim.
The steps mentioned above play a major role in helping you handle water damage to the wooden boards in your home.
Get Water Damage Addressed by the Professionals
Handling the water damage can be done on your own but, if you do not have the time or the equipment, it is a good idea to work with the experts. Many professionals have de-humidifiers, water vacuums, mold treatments and more that they can apply to your wooden boards as needed.
Moreover, they also have the right expertise and are able to work with any kind of water damage to your home. With the help of their expertise, you can work out repairs, effectively contain the water damage and maintain your wooden floorboards with ease.