What to Do About Water Damaged Floors

Owning your home can be stressful. There are always situations that you didn’t account for or expect to happen. With living in the DMV area, we all know that the strong summer storms can take a beating on your home, especially on your floors and basements. Also, life can take a crazy turn at any second, and your pipes burst during an ice storm. Or say perhaps your laundry machine goes bonkers one day, and you walk into a pool party on your floor.

So what do you do to prevent your flooring getting destroyed? What are the steps that you take to repair the damage? We will dive into how to examine the extent, determine the best method, and how to prevent future issues for your home.




Examine the Damage


How much water got onto your carpet floor? It’s pretty common sense that if the water soaked through the carpet, carpet pad, flooring, and sub-flooring, you got a nasty problem on your hands. Pull up a corner to check the extent of the damage. If it’s through the carpet pad, then carpet shopping it is. 

How long did the water sit on your carpet? According to FEMA, you need to begin the cleaning process 24hrs to 48hrs before mold and mildew starts to set in and grow. If it’s beyond that time frame, new carpeting it is!

What was the water source that caused the problem? If your carpet was soaked with dirty water such as septic, storm flooding, or other contaminated water sources, then there is zero point in salvaging your carpeting. These water sources could or do contain health threatening bacteria. If it’s water that you wouldn’t drink, then say bye bye. 

Is the carpet able to be dried, cleaned, or sanitized? If pulling up and/or removing the water-logged carpeting will make the situation worse, then you should opt for new carpeting. It’s better to replace the whole room than a section to reduce the awkward appearance.  

When was the last time the carpet was changed? Sometimes based on the age of the carpeting, it’s just not worth spending the time, effort, or hassle. Save yourself the headache and just buy new.


Do you have plank(s) cupping, crowning, or creating a hump? Once the wood absorbs the water, it expands. The expansion creates evidence of the board edges turning up or whole planks buckling. At this point, the water damage is done. You will need to replace the plank(s). 

Are there black or darkening spots/stains on the flooring? If this is the case, then mold and mildew has started growing. You have to say bye bye to that section of flooring.

What was the water source that caused the problem? If your wood floor was soaked with dirty water such as septic, storm flooding, or other contaminated water sources, then there is no chance of salvaging the planks. These water sources could or do contain health threatening bacteria. All the flooring and sub-flooring will need to be removed and thrown away. Then the concrete below must be dried and sanitized numerous times. Once fully dried, then new wood flooring can be applied. 

Is the floor able to be dried, cleaned, or sanitized? Good news is that with wood flooring, you are able to repair a section rather than the whole room. Yet, your sub-flooring and concrete below must not be affected. Otherwise, you will have molding issues in the future.

Should I hire someone or do it myself? Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself to determine which route to decide.

Are you trained to detect mold/mildew or  length of water damage? If the answer is no, then I say leave it to the professionals. It’s not as easy as watching a Youtube video to solve this. You could uncover a bigger problem than you originally thought. It’s always helpful to make sure you won’t have bigger issues in the future. 

Do you have all of the tools to handle the job? Thermal imaging is commonly used to review the extent of the damage without pulling up your whole floor. In addition, there are a lot of tools and chemicals required to make sure the job is complete. This can range from industrial dehumidifiers, HEPA air scrubbers to rid of health impactful particles, air mover to evaporate water quickly, and more. 

Do you have time to deal with your insurance claim? Not only do the professionals work with you and your issue at hand. A lot of them will also work simultaneously with your insurance agent to build a restoration plan that meets your coverage to give you options.

How to protect your home for the future?

Know where your water valve for the home is located. A leak or rupture can take only minutes to cause extensive damage. Learning how and where to quickly shut off the water is key to saving your home flooring. 

Be proactive, by checking daily for leaks. Minor water damage can go undetected super easily and can cause a bigger problem down the road. Periodically check underneath sinks, around appliances with water factors (dishwasher, washing machine, refrigerator, etc). Look for areas of moisture or mold. Flaking paint, wallpaper, darkened stains, speckled marks, can be a sign of damp and or mold. If your walls feel cold to the touch or notice a musty smell, then consider adding additional insulation. Check windows and skylights for condensation in the mornings. Its presence can indicate higher than average moisture levels in your home.

Check your sump pump annually or periodically during heavy rain seasons. Majority homes with basements have a sump pump to prevent hard rain falls from creeping into your home. Check on it every year to ensure it is properly maintained. Yet during seasons of heavy rain, recommend checking more frequently. 

Maintaining your gutters of debris. Blocked gutters create damp atmospheres. If water is running down the side of your house rather than through the gutter, this can be a breeding ground for water damage.

Inspect your roof, both inside and out. Inside, check your attic for signs of water damage. Look for damp spots on joists or tea colored stains on plaster. Outside, inspect the roof itself for signs of visible damage, and ensure the flashing (weather protector) surrounding any chimneys is intact. 

Prevent pipes from freezing. Smart thermostats are not only there to maintain your electric bill. It’s also super helpful for alerts should your home drop below 50 degrees. Warm water needs to be able to circulate through pipes to prevent any freezing to occur. Exposed pipes should always be properly insulated. Snap-on pipe insulation is super cheap and effective.

Install a water leak detection device. These are relatively inexpensive, and it could save you thousands down the road. These devices will shut off your water supply in the event of a leak. Super helpful for if you are leaving your home vacant for weeks on-end. 

Lesson of it all, water damage is no joke. It is something that is not just a snap of the fingers to fix. When in doubt, throw it out. Let’s just leave it to the professionals, shall we?