If the flooding was of a long duration on a surface-finished floor, rough sanding to remove the finish will accelerate drying. After wood floors have been covered with wet mud and dirt, they need to be cleaned, flattened and possibly replaced. |
Do not repair the floor until moisture meter readings on the top and bottom of the boards and subfloor are at normal levels. When flooring is stabilized, determine the damage. If the flooring has loosened from the subfloor, repair the necessary areas or the entire floor. If it is cupped, sand it flat. If the floor is flat, fill if necessary and screen and recoat.
If the subfloor is plywood over concrete, it is unlikely that the plywood and concrete subfloor will dry out in a reasonable time. Full removal to concrete usually is best to allow the slab to dry.
In cases where you have determined that the flooring system has not returned to normal levels, do not succumb to pressure from involved parties for a quick fix. If you must proceed, have a full release signed due to the risk of more moisture problems.
Cleaning. Before the house dries out, scrub all woodwork with a stiff but nonabrasive brush, plenty of water and a non-sudsing detergent to remove mud and silt from corners, cracks and crevices.
Floodwater may accumulate in partitions and exterior walls. Drain these areas as quickly as possible of insulation and structural materials. Remove the baseboard and drill holes between studs a few inches above the floor. After the insulation and frames have dried, replace the baseboard.
Use your regular cleaning product for a final, thorough floor washing. If refinishing is necessary, wait until moisture has dried from wood framing, between walls and floors, and backs of trim. This may take several months. Consult an experienced professional for refinishing, or follow instructions on standard brands of finishes and varnishes for household use.
Flattening. Wood floors probably will be buckled, but if it's not too late, remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling. Leave them alone to dry. Dry wood as fast as possible without aggravating shrinkage or deformation. Open windows and door wide enough to give good ventilation on dry, non-humid days. Maintain a temperature of 50 degrees to 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in the house.
Sections of subfloors that separate must be replaced to avoid buckling. When floor coverings are removed, allow subfloors to dry thoroughly, even though it may take several months.
In vinyl floors with wood subflooring, the floor covering should be removed so the subflooring can be replaced. With concrete floors, removal isn't necessary except to hasten drying of the slab.
Loose tiles may be replaced individually if the floor hasn't been soaked. If water has seeped under sheet flooring, remove the entire sheet.
After the house is dry, there are several possibilities for renovating the floors. Some of the buckled flooring may be pounded into place with nails. Some humps may be removed by planing or sanding. Heavily planed floors may never be used uncovered, but a smoothed old floor can serve as a base for a resilient hard-surface floor covering.
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