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Water damage to floating wood floor - advice needed!


About 2 weeks ago we had a small flood in the bottom floor of our split level, where water came in from the crawlspace (unplugged sump pump!), and covered about 1/3 of the basement room (1 inch deep in parts). We had the water mopped up in a couple hours.

The flooring in this room is a floating wood (engineered) floor, over a concrete slab. Under the floor is a foam silencing pad, with a moisture barrier. Since then, we have had fans and dehumidifiers going 24/7, but some of the floor has started to buckle.

We fear that the pad underneath the floor will remain wet, and that we have to have the entire floor taken up to replace the pad. We had Servpro come out, and they took moisture readings of the wood which were pretty high - far beyond where the actual water was in the room, but they said it can spread underneath the wood. They also scared the heck out of us, talking about the possibility of mold, keeping the kids out of that room, etc.

I would really appreciate some advice as to a good course of action. My thought is to have all the wood floor taken up (it is tongue/groove, there was no glue), replace the pad and dry the concrete, and put the same wood back down. Does this seem like the most sensible option? Is the risk of mold growth underneath the wood a real one? I assume the wood can be effectively dried out? FYI, we live in North Carolina, fairly humid.

Thank you for your advice.

Re: Water damage to floating wood floor - advice needed!

The mold will be there in no time if you wait or do nothing.

Remove the floor and pad, I think they're a total loss. Dry the concrete with the fans and treat with bleach/water mix. If the walls are affected too, treat them as well.

When everything is clean and dry, install a new floor. Make sure that the source of the leak is fixed, so this won't happen again.

Re: Water damage to floating wood floor - advice needed!

Thanks, I appreciate the reply.

Just curious, why would the wood itself be a total loss? With the exception of the couple buckled planks, the rest of the wood looks fine - even if there is mold underneath, can it not be dried out/cleaned as well? Apparently, it is common for this brand of floating floor (Kahrs) to be moved to a new home when the owner moves, it was created to be installed and uninstalled. At least, so says the advertising materials and flooring company. And the water was only on 1/3 of the flooring. It was expensive flooring, looks great, and ultimately I am hoping to preserve as much of it as possible.

Thank you!

Re: Water damage to floating wood floor - advice needed!

also....how to tell if the walls are affected? There are no visible signs from the outside, at least.

Re: Water damage to floating wood floor - advice needed!

When you disassemble a t&g floor then re-assemble it you'll find that many pieces don't fit like before. You can certainly try to salvage some of the planks.

Also, if you replace about 1/3 of the boards, you'll see that the new ones don't match 100% with the rest of the boards.

Getting and using all new materials will save you time, labor, money, frustration and cursing.

Re: Water damage to floating wood floor - advice needed!

If going to re-place the wood on the concrete I would place another moisture vapor, Arizona Polymer Floorings makes a product that is used to reduce the moisture vapor coming threw the concrete. It is used under and non-breathable flooring such as: epoxy, vct, and wood floors. They have a website you can check and see if you can order from them or buy from a distributor. The product just rolls on like paint.

Re: Water damage to floating wood floor - advice needed!

I had a very similar flooring issue to what you have had and then only way we got it sorted was to remove and replace I'm afraid to inform you!

Re: Water damage to floating wood floor - advice needed!

The materials 'floating' flooring is made of have almost no resistance to water. It will warp, swell, and buckle as the moisture moves onto the unsealed core, and there's nothing you can do except replace it. You won't likely get a good match unless you replace it all. In most situations I advise against using this stuff for this and several other reasons, but in a concrete-floored basement or other slab it's a pretty good choice since flood repairs are cheap, and floods common. While the slab is open, take measures to waterproof he concrete under it before re-laying the new floor.


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