Avoiding damage: Expert tips for drying hardwood floors post-leak

Drying your hardwood floors immediately and completely after a leak is imperative to keep your floors looking great and your family healthy.

Leaks can happen for a variety of reasons, but they can be detrimental to the health and appearance of your hardwood floors.

How leaks can damage your hardwood floors

When your hardwood floors come into contact with moisture of any kind, be it an appliance breaking, a leaky roof, or other spills and accidents, the wood will absorb this moisture.

When wood absorbs moisture, it will begin to expand and swell. This can lead to uneven warping of your floorboards and these boards may even cup, lift or splinter.

This can look very bad and be unsafe, so it is best to dry any water from the surface of the wood immediately.

How to know if your hardwood floors have water damage

Although you might not always be present at the exact moment when a leak happens, the signs of water damage on wood floors can often be fairly obvious.

Any dark spots that are not usually present on your wooden floors can be a sign of hidden water damage, as these spots may be mold or mildew.

This would not include any of the natural grain and knots that would be present in the natural pattern of the wood.

Cupping or bulging of the floorboards is another way to easily tell that your floors have water damage.

This means that the floorboards sink in the middle and have raised edges or rise in the middle, and form rainbow shapes. It is best to get these wooden floors dry as soon as possible.

How to dry hardwood floors after a leak?

There are a few steps to follow to ensure that you remove as much moisture from your hardwood floors, as quickly as possible. These steps include:

  1. Remove any wet objects from the floor. Your floor will continue to soak up water from surrounding objects, so it is best to remove them from the floor and let them dry somewhere else.
  2. Dry any visible water immediately. Using a wet or dry vacuum can help you to remove excess moisture from your floors quickly and easily.
  3. Scrub your floors. After you have removed all the visible water you will need to use a non-sudsy detergent or baking soda to ensure that there is no dirt that could be hiding water in the wood.

Other helpful tips

Water could be hiding in the pores and subflooring even after you have dried the surface of your hardwood floor.

There are some extra steps to follow, to ensure that your floors are truly dry. This includes:

  • Turn on a humidifier. Leaving a humidifier on in the room where the leak was, for at least two days, will ensure that all of the moisture is pulled from the pores of your wood and the subfloor.
  • Remove several floorboards. Removing a floorboard every five to 10 feet, it will allow your boards to expand without warping too much.
  • Turn on several fans. Turning on several fans in the room, usually in each corner of the room, will increase airflow and evaporation.
  • Open all of the doors and windows. This will also increase the airflow in the area.
  • Turn on your air conditioner or heating system. This will help to dry out the air in the room, which ensures that your floorboards will dry out completely.
  • Use a moisture testing meter to track your progress. If the reading in this meter is below five percent, you will be able to use your hardwood floors again.

Mold and mildew

If you are not sure where the leak to your floorboards was coming from in the first place, it could still be causing damage even after you have dried your floors.

A continuously damp environment can create the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow.

Mold and mildew may pose significant health risks to anyone who comes into contact with these substances. Exposure to mold has been known to cause allergic reactions and breathing problems.

It is important to inspect the pores of your hardwood floors for any signs of mold and mildew after you have dried the surface.

If you find any mold or mildew, you will need to scrub your floors with a non-sudsy detergent or baking soda to destroy the mold, mildew and spores.

Final thoughts

A leak is usually accidental, but when it comes to hardwood floors, they need to be dried immediately.

Ensuring that your floorboards are completely dry throughout will minimize any warping and potential health risks.