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What to do if your hardwood floors get wet

Water is the ultimate enemy of hardwood. The typical thinking is often this: “I had my floors waxed and sealed, so they should be fine, right?” Wrong!

Wood is porous, so it soaks up water. While the sealing process will increase water resistance, hence, giving you a little more time to wipe things up, but it can’t eliminate the fact that it can be absorbed.

Don’t panic, but do act quickly

Dry the hardwood out as quickly as possible to reduce any amount of warping or cupping.

These are the steps you should follow.

  • Remove wet objects immediately. That includes rugs, furniture, towels, etc. When the Northeast experienced Hurricane Sandy, we heard of one house where the entire first floor was flooded, including a hardwood floor covered by a large rug.
  • With water, the rug was estimated to weigh 1,000 pounds, but two women got it out by themselves because, as one said, “There’s no option--a wet rug will only destroy it.”
  • Liquid lurks in the pores and seams of hardwood and causes mildew and mold to grow.
  • Use a wet vacuum. You can get them in most hardware stores. Only stop when there’s nothing left in the canister.
  • Disinfect. If dirt gets into the pores of the floor, it will hold onto water and cause more damage. Scrub, and then use the wet vac to eliminate any leftover water.Dry. Use dehumidifiers, fans and, weather permitting, open windows.Look for mold. Mold wreaks havoc with your belonging and with the human respiratory system. Examine the flooring when it looks dry and if you see any mold in the wood’s pores, scrub it with a manufacturer-approved cleaner.
  • Get a wood moisture meter. You can find them in hardware stores for less than $50. It can take several days before a wood floor completely dries, so keep using the fans and dehumidifier until the moisture meter indicates dryness.

Never wait for the floor to dry naturally

If you just let puddles sit, you’ll only have to replace the damaged boards or even the entire floor. Hardwood is easy to maintain but it does need some TLC so it lasts for many years.

For more information, visit the Dragon Scale Flooring showroom in Laurel, MD.