The news is often filled with stories about people dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters. A hurricane. A fire. A river that rises way beyond its banks.
So it’s natural to think your home is relatively safe if you live far away from places where these conditions occur. You’re not near an ocean here along the Front Range; you’ll never have flood damage impact your floors.
Where there is water, there is potential for floods. And with even a small amount of standing water comes the potential of damage to your flooring.
Imagine a dishwasher with a cracked water line flooding your kitchen. Or a frozen pipe that thaws and unleashes thousands of gallons of water into your home. It happens all the time.
Different types have different impact
Carpet will handle water damage differently than hardwood. Ceramic tiles will be impacted differently than laminate.
Yet when you have standing water, they all need immediate action to prevent further damage. Let’s talk specifics about some of the different types of flooring.
Carpet – Carpet is one of the most challenging flooring options to deal with after water damage. In most cases, there is no saving water-damaged carpet. As soon as you remove the standing water, pull out the carpet and padding too. Water-damaged carpets quickly grow mold or mildew, which can further damage your subfloor, baseboards, drywall, and more. Depending on how long your carpet has stood in the water determines if it’s worth saving. A professional restoration company or carpet cleaners can possibly save it if the water damage is only a few hours old.
Ceramic and porcelain tile – Tile is one of the better choices to avoid water damage. Of course, it depends on the tile. Porous tiles may absorb more water, so it’s important to take action quickly to remove water from the floors. Standing water can also penetrate through grout and leak down into the subfloor, so it’s important to begin cleanup right away.
Vinyl – There are many types of vinyl on the market today. Vinyl tiles or sheet vinyl may be water-resistant, but standing water may be able to filter through cracks and seams and impact the subfloor. The latest technology has brought luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) and luxury vinyl planks (LVP) into homes. These flooring options are waterproof, and will stand up to flooding for short periods of time. Again, it depends on the flood, what’s in the standing water, and if the water damage penetrates the baseboards and makes its way underneath to the subfloor.
Hardwood and laminate – Both hardwood and laminate have little tolerance for flood water. Hardwood absorbs a certain amount of water – think of how a tree absorbs water for growth. Your hardwood planks still have that same characteristic, and can absorb as much as 10 percent of their weight as being exposed.
Damage can occur to the hardwood or laminate itself, but it goes deeper than that.
As water seeps down through the wood, it starts to impact flooring glue. This degrades the glue, separates it from the subfloor and the hardwood planks, and gives the flooring a chance to move.
Swelling planks is another problem. As they absorb water, the wood swells. It can cause buckling and expansion of each individual plank. That causes a ripple effect throughout your home, causing planks to pop up along baseboards and edges. You’ll see cupping throughout, distorting the shape of the floors. It’s difficult to walk across a floor where the edges are varying heights.
And don’t forget about mold and mildew. It settles in quickly. It can also spread rapidly to places you see, and to places you can’t. It can spread through joints and other wooden connections, feeding down into your basement, up into your attic, and eventually impacting your entire house.
This isn’t just a moisture problem. Don’t assume you can suck up the water and get back to life as normal. It’s not that simple.
Water has a way of trailing and running anywhere it can find a place to move. That’s why you’ll often find damage down on the main living space, even when the start of the problem was a leak from the roof. Water trails and pools as it moves along, settling anywhere it can thrive and grow.
It can take weeks – months – before you have clear indication of the problem it’s become. But that can be doing serious damage to your house’s structure, as well as impacting your health.
Flooding – any flood – needs to be handled with care. Don’t wipe away the water and call it a day. Trust an expert to determine just how extensive the water damage is. And make repairs accordingly.
A quick look at the different types of floodwater
It’s also a good idea to understand what type of water you have inside your home.
Clean water – clean water can come from a variety of sources. If your toilet’s holding tank breaks, or the line breaks to the ice maker in your refrigerator, that would be clean water. This type of water damage poses no health risks, and you can clean up this kind of water damage on your own. It still can be a problem as it seeps down into floorboards. If it sits for more than 48 hours, it risks becoming graywater, which will pose more risk.
Graywater – graywater is water that may have contaminants or chemicals in it. It may come up from the drains in your shower, sink or bathtub. It may be from aquariums, a leaky waterbed, or a backup in your dishwasher. Graywater will cause more damage than a clean water flood, requiring a different level of cleanup to ensure everything is cleaned. If graywater sits for more than 48 hours, it risks moving to the black water stage.
Blackwater – black water is contaminated by sewage. If you’re near a river and it floods into your home, you have a black water problem. If your toilet backs up and floods on your floors, you have a black water problem. If the main sewer line is clogged, you have a contaminated living space that can be very dangerous to your health. When this type of flood occurs, be sure to call in remediation experts who know how to thoroughly clean your home and bring it back to livable condition.
After the flood
Flooding can cause all sorts of damage throughout your home. It can be a costly, time-consuming process to get your home back to livable conditions.
Your first step is safety. Get your family to safety, and call in the experts to help.
Second, hire a trained expert who will know full remediation practices to ensure your home is safe, top to bottom.
Only after your home is cleaned and inhabitable once again should you start the process of looking for new flooring. How can we help you select the right flooring for your needs?