If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having sudden and unexpected water on your floor, time is of the essence and its important to act both quickly and efficiently.
In this guide, we’ll go over not only how to get water up off and out of your floor, but also how to clean up afterwards.
The longer water stays on your floor, the greater the risk you run of it soaking in and causing serious water damage.
Some floors like tile and vinyl may be more water-resistant than others, but in the case of floors like laminate flooring – the water should ideally be removed immediately as damage can occur within literal minutes.
If left to seep in, water can and will work its way into any cracks or gaps it can find and can result in a myriad of issues such as:
Any flooring, whether its wood, carpet, or even tile, will be ruined if exposed to water for too long.
Wood floors will buckle, warp, and begin to separate.
Carpet will begin to mold and mildew, creating a health hazard.
Tiles will separate or even begin to lift up off the floors.
Mold isn’t just limited to carpet. In the right conditions and with enough moisture, mold and mildew can grow just about anywhere, wood and tile being no exception.
Once this occurs, getting rid of it can be difficult and costly, not to mention the serious health hazards it presents.
In some instances, if water seeps in deep enough, it can begin to damage the subflooring and even the floor joists beneath it.
Repairing and replacing subfloors and floor joists is a time-consuming process, but once damaged they can completely compromise the structural integrity of the flooring and need to be addressed immediately.
Depending on where the water is located, like along any nearby baseboards for instance, water might manage to wick its way up into your drywall.
This poses all of the risks of water damaged flooring, with the added inconvenience of having to replace drywall as well.
Water Removal In Case Of a Completely Flooded Floor
First and foremost, if there has been a huge storm and there are downed powerlines outside your home, do not step in any puddles or standing water inside your home.
Inspect the exterior of your home, and look for things like foundation cracks or obvious structural damage that could indicate it isn’t safe to go inside.
That being said, once it’s safe to go inside your home, you’ll want to begin removing water as quickly as possible.
For standing water, the quickest method is going to be using either an electric pump, which can be bought or rented from a number of hardware stores.
You’ll want to pump the water out gradually, especially in the case of larger volumes of water such as basement flooding, as anything more than about 2 feet per day can result in structural damage.
When using equipment such as an electric pump, always be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely, and use safe practices when it comes to electrical equipment in areas with standing water.
Most Effective Methods To Soak Up & Remove Remaining Water From Floor
If an electric pump just isn’t an option, there are other methods you can employ that won’t work as quickly, but will get the job done just the same.
This one should be fairly self-explanatory. Wet & Dry vacuums are great at getting water out of areas it shouldn’t be, and like electrical pumps can be bought or rented from certain hardware stores.
Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines while operating, and use safe practices when operating electrical equipment in areas with standing water.
In some instances, a large floor squeegee may be a viable option. Best used in areas with a built-in floor drain, or where the water can easily be squeegee’d out of the house.
Floor squeegees cost between fifteen and thirty dollars, and can be picked up at just about any hardware store.
With squeegees, just be sure there isn’t any sharp rocks or debris, otherwise you run the risk of damaging the rubber component and ruining the squeegee.
Mop & Bucket/Towels
Worst case scenario, you can always rely on a good old-fashioned mop, bucket, and towels.
Probably the most time-consuming method, but they don’t require electricity, and might be better at soaking up surface moisture that a wet vac or squeegee might miss.
They’re also readily available just about anywhere, so they’re highly accessible.
Another option is a spill kit, which you can acquire most easily online.
Typically sold by how many gallons they can remove at a time, they usually include reusable absorbent “socks” that will soak up water or various other fluids, buckets, and a variety of other things you may need to remove water from an area.
Just be sure not to use one for anything it isn’t expressly intended for per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
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Post-Water Removal & Drying
Once all the water has been soaked up, it’s time to get the moisture up out of the floor.
This is especially important in the instance of wooden flooring of any kind, as the longer it remains in contact with moisture the more damage it will incur.
The process is pretty straightforward, so we’ll outline it below.
1. Move any furniture or damaged items out of the area
Furniture, rugs, or any other items that may still be housing moisture that could come in contact with the floor should be removed from the area.
If there is carpeting and it has hardwood underneath it, now would be the time to pull it up.
Make sure nothing that could keep moisture in contact with the floor is touching it.
This is also a good time to inspect for any serious water damage, such as mold growth, buckling, etc.
2. Ensure the source of the water has been addressed, if applicable
In the event of a naturally occurring flood, there isn’t much you can do here.
But if the water was a result of improper drainage from outside spilling into the house or from a burst pipe, you need to ensure the issue is addressed before going any further, otherwise you’ll just be repeating this process all over.
This really is an important step, and even if it can’t be done right away, you should make sure you’re taking the necessary measures to have it addressed while you continue to dry your floors
3. Disinfect the area
Using a simple solution of half a cup of bleach per gallon of water is the quickest and easiest method for sanitizing most floors after they have been flooded.
Mop over them lightly, giving extra attention to areas that seem to need it, and be careful not to leave any sitting water as you go.
It may seem silly to get the floors wet again, but this will help prevent mold from growing or kill off any that may be just starting.
4. Get fans and dehumidifiers running as soon as possible
Straight to the point. Angle your fans towards the floor, and turn them on their highest setting for maximum air flow.
If you can, use multiple dehumidifiers to pull as much moisture out of the area as possible, and be sure to keep them emptied and turned all the way up.
Once you’ve gotten everything you can with conventional methods, this really is the best way to pull as much lingering water out as you can.
5. Open windows if possible
Opening windows allows the area to air out, quite literally.
This may not be a viable option, such as in areas where it’s actually more humid outside, or if there’s a chance it may rain and put you back at square one.
Watch the weather, and use your best judgment on this one
6. Check floors for dryness with a moisture meter
Easily acquired at hardware stores, a moisture meter will help you ensure that you’ve gotten all the water out of your flooring.
The process could take several days, or even a week or more depending on the environment, so be patient and keep checking on it.
This will also provide you with ample opportunity to monitor for things like mold, buckling, or warping.
Water Removal From Basement Floor
When removing water from a basement floor, you’re likely looking at the daunting prospect of attempting to get water out of a cement slab.
If left to dry out on its own, however, serious issues like a cracked slab can occur, which can lead to further water seeping in and even issues like major structural damage down the line.
Drying out cement flooring follows many of the same guidelines outlined above, but with the added benefit of usually having a floor drain built in.
Ensure the floor drain is working properly and isn’t the cause of the flood, then remove the water as usual, the squeegee being an excellent tool for pushing the water towards said drain.
Once the surface moisture is gone, get rid of any lingering debris, and make sure the floor drain is still clear.
Basement flooding is often a result of plumbing issues, so it’s important to disinfect the area, especially if it came into contact with waste water.
For this, most floor cleaners will do the trick, just follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on any product used.
Alternately, the tried-and-true bleach water concoction will do the trick; just be sure to let it set for 10 minutes or so before mopping it back up to kill any dangerous bacteria.
From there, fans, dehumidifiers, and as much air as you can get moving through the area are your best bet again.
Keep fans on the highest settings, and make sure dehumidifiers are being emptied as often as necessary. Again, this process may take several days, so be patient and let the equipment do their jobs.
When To Call A Professional
Any time you feel in over your head, or uncertain of how to proceed next, don’t ever hesitate to call in a professional for help.
In instances where the power lines are down and you suspect it is unsafe to enter the home, dial 911 first, and then consult a professional from there if you’re still concerned for your safety.
Professional water damage specialists have access to training and equipment that makes them uniquely able to handle the problem quickly and efficiently, so even if you’re half-way through the project and feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, stop and make the phone call sooner rather than later.
It may be the difference between saving your flooring and replacing it entirely.
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