When your pipes burst water may seep, leak or even gush into your home and onto your flooring. When you discover wet flooring your first step is always to find the source of the moisture. In the case of burst pipes, turn off the water at the source and open all your taps to empty those pipes!
Once you stop the leak, call the plumber – but don’t wait to address your floors. Though different flooring materials will have different considerations, time is absolutely of the essence when seeking to mitigate damage.
The good news is that the water you are dealing with is clean water. This greatly increases the possibility of saving your floors because water from leaky pipes does not carry bacteria or dirt as floodwaters do.
In general, acting quickly to:
- Remove any furniture, area rugs or other materials from the area
- Dry the moisture on the surface using towels or even a wet vac if you have access to one
- Set up fans in the space and run them constantly
- Run a dehumidifier alongside the fans (you may be able to rent one from a local hardware store)
Taking these steps will help minimize the damage to flooring materials as well as decreasing the likelihood of mildew or mold growth.
Here are some special considerations depending on the type of flooring you are dealing with.
When carpet gets wet it quickly begins to soak up the moisture and transfer it to the pad and sub floor below. For this reason it is a good idea to pull back the wet carpet in order to expose its underside and the materials below. Mold and mildew are a significant concern with wet carpet because they can begin to grow in as little as 24-48 hours. If your carpet has been wet for longer than 72 hours it is likely not salvageable.
Drying carpet is a lengthy process – you should plan to keep fans and dehumidifier running in the area around the clock for approximately a week. Once the carpet is dry, it can be reattached and steam cleaned. You will want to take notice of any sign of discoloration or smell that could suggest the presence of mold.
Hardwood flooring can quickly be damaged by water, but the degree of damage is greatly dependent on how long the water remains. Water can cause staining, which can be fixed by sanding and refinishing the area, or it may cause buckling, which will require replacing boards. If your hardwood floors begin to buckle you can remove the damaged boards to allow for drying of the subfloor. These individual boards can be replaced once everything is dry.
If your hardwood floor is in an upstairs room consider running fans and dehumidifier in the room below in addition to the room where the damage occurred.
Once your hardwood floor is dry, clean it with a disinfectant and then determine whether repairs are required based on the appearance of the flooring.
Luxury Vinyl Plank/Tile
LVT is quite resilient when it comes to water. However, if water is left for an extended amount of time the tile material can break down and absorb moisture. If this happens, you will notice discoloration and possibly swelling and bulging of the affected tiles. These individual tiles can be removed and, once the surface underneath is dried, replaced.
Tile flooring is also quite durable when exposed to water. Typically, if the tile floor is damaged by a leak, it is due to the moisture seeping into and breaking down the mortar and adhesives. This becomes apparent when a tile is noticeably loose or sounds hollow when tapped. A tile flooring specialist can remove the tiles and often re-adhere them, but sometimes replacement is needed once everything is sufficiently dried.
Act quickly to get things dry when leaks threaten your flooring by following the steps above. If you notice changes in your floors afterward, don’t hesitate to contact a flooring specialist who can assess the situation and carry out the necessary steps to restore your floors.