Drying a Hardwood Floor after a Flood

When your hardwood floor gets soaked due to flooding, it is urgent that you dry it as quickly as possible. If the water is left standing on the floor or if moisture remains trapped in the floor, extensive damage can occur that may result in the entire floor needing to be replaced. Residents of Southeast Michigan have contacted Action Extract to help them with their flood problems for over 30 years. Drying a hardwood floor after a flood requires knowledge, labor and the best commercial equipment available to do the job correctly.

The following steps will help you assess whether you prefer to call a professional or do it yourself.

Remove the standing water from the hardwood flooring. 

The first step in drying your hardwood floor is to remove the standing water. A wet/dry shop vacuum and several towels will work well for that purpose. Based upon the type of the water and how long the hardwood flooring has been wet will determine if additional service is required. A pitcher of spilled fresh water quickly cleaned up should not be considered the same as a leaky water supply line that may have been leaking for days.

In situations where many gallons of water have migrated throughout the area of hardwood flooring to equally deluge to a level below, a professional restoration firm should be called out to evaluate the damages. Wet hardwood flooring is such cases can permanently become damaged if specialty drying chambers are not immediately set up and left running for several days.

Clean the floor with safe chemicals

If the removed water has left a surface stain than a quick cleaning will help the drying step be less likely to make it permanent. Once the water is removed, you will need to clean the floor with a mixture of a detergent that is safe on hardwood flooring along with a disinfectant and water to remove staining or contaminates left by the floodwater.

This is especially true if the water has languished for several days as stagnant water will collect contaminates that should be eliminated so they do not spread or amplify. Remember preventing health threatening growths, such as bacteria and mold, from spreading is as important as drying the hardwood floor.

If the seams are needing special attention than using a toothbrush with soft bristles can really get in those small places and effectively clean away dirt and grime between the boards and in corners.

Drying the Hardwood Flooring

The next step in drying a hardwood floor after a flood is to dry the hardwood and the sub-floor beneath it. This step is next to impossible if the water is actually deeply trapped in the hardwood flooring and entombed beneath the flooring and sub-floor. If the flooring is buckling or cupping this is a warning sign you only have a limited window of opportunity to save the flooring. These evidences are an indicative of a worst case scenario and professional specialty drying equipment needs to be employed immediately if restoration is the goal.

The following instructions on drying a hardwood floor we are providing would only be effective if the water did not deeply penetrate the hardwood and did not get to the sub-floor. If the damages are only superficial then the following step could be effective at restoring the hardwood floor.

You can place a fan under the sub-floor and another on top of the floor, and open doors and windows to help circulate air. A dehumidifier can also be used to help the wood dry faster. It may take several days for the floor and sub-floor to dry completely using these methods.

Signs the Hardwood Flooring Needs Professional Drying

Water causes hardwood floors to swell. If the floor is not dried quickly enough, it can result in cracks, buckling or cupping. Buckling occurs when the hardwood planks pull away from the sub-floor. Cupping occurs when the center of the board dips down and the edges curl up. If the flooring does buckle, it may be necessary to remove some of the hardwood planks to relieve the stress that can cause more extensive damage. This is not for the faint of heart and consulting a professional water restoration company such as Action Extraction may be the better option.

If the hardwood planks do not buckle, and they go back to their original flat shape after drying, all that may be necessary is to resurface and re-stain the floor. If only a few planks have buckled, it may be possible to replace those planks and then refinish the entire floor. In the best case scenario the aesthetics have not been compromised and the original beauty of the floor has been restored.

Take Pictures of the Hardwood Floor Before and After

It should be noted that, before you begin the process of drying your hardwood floor, you should take pictures of the flooded areas should you decide to make a homeowners insurance claim. If you are inclined to go forward with insurance at the onset, it is highly recommended to allow the professionals to dry the hardwood flooring and discard the DIY option.

Insurance companies will require pictures, a measurement of the amount of moisture in the hardwood flooring using moisture detection equipment and daily graphs showing the drying process. In some cases the insurance carrier will allow for specialty drying equipment that is expressly made for drying hard wood flooring. These systems are very effective but require heat systems to run in concert with their placement and can be costly.

Professionals Can Dry Hardwood Floor Better

Action Extraction experts have a proven track record of managing insurance claims for homeowners when flood damage restoration is needed. They will take pictures, measure the moisture content daily and transmit that documentation to your insurance agent for you. Action Extraction will also deal directly with your insurance provider for billing purposes so that you have one less worry and can move forward with recovering from your flood situation.

Check out our article on 10 water damage restoration tips.

Real Life Story – Taken From the Files of Action Extraction

Drying Hardwood Floor after a Flood

In January of 2020 Action Extraction was called out to a home in West Bloomfield after an elderly woman discovered her toilet supply line had leaked and deposited standing water in several rooms of hardwood flooring. Although there was a small area of water damaged carpet, the hardwood flooring would be the only challenge.

We arrived to a worst case scenario as the buckling and cupping had begun to manifest, making perfect restoration a hit or miss proposition with even the best cutting edge drying technology.

To complicate matters the homeowner informed us she did not want to replace any planks as that would require sanding and refinishing throughout her entire first floor.

The target set before us seemed a bit challenging as her goal was a perfectly restored floor that once dried would look no different than the rest of the hardwood and require no sanding and finishing. This is typically not within the realm of certain probability but we were willing to give it our best as we do on all restoration projects.

In several hours we had all standing water removed, a hardwood floor drying mat system placed, and a heat system forcing heater air beneath the hardwood floor. The heat would radiate up from a chambered area of the basement forcing any trapped moisture in the hard flooring to become a vapor while at the same time the drying mats would be under continual suction, lifting water from wet materials.

Each day we evaluated and tracked the drying process and in 5 days  the hardwood flooring was completely dried and the homeowner was elated and relieved knowing no more contractors were necessary to work in her home.

Success Breeds Success – In Hardwood Floor Drying

If you experience a flood in your home, your best option is to contact us at Action Extraction immediately. We are IICRC certified and licensed, bonded and insured. Our state of the art equipment includes truck-mount extraction units, turbo dryers, heat systems and dehumidifiers that quickly remove moisture from the environment.

The equipment that will be required depends on the extent of the flooding damage. We are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you reclaim your home. Our experts at hardwood floor drying after a flood are waiting to serve you.