What To Do With Your Flooring When Your Basement Floods
With all the rain we’ve had in Kansas this year, many area homeowners are experiencing basement flooding and damage to their flooring in the form of wet carpet, buckled hardwood floors, swollen laminate flooring and puddles appearing concrete or tile floors.
The dangers associated with excessive moisture seeping into your basement flooring are:
- damaged and ruined flooring
- foundation damage
- mold forming and spreading throughout your basement
- damage to furniture and other property
Before you set foot in a wet basement, make sure to turn off the basement breaker switch to make sure you aren’t in danger of electrocution. If you don’t know which breaker goes to the basement, turn off the main circuit breaker to be safe. If your circuit breaker is in your basement, you may need to call an electrician before going down to your basement.
When the power to the basement has been shut off, the first things you will need to assess are to what extent your basement is flooded and how much effort it will take to remove the moisture. Is your floor wet in only one spot, multiple locations or is there water everywhere? Move all furniture and personal belongings out of the affected area to prevent any further damage and unplug everything until the basement is completely dry.
For minor puddles and isolated areas where water appears on any flooring surface, you could dry the affected area yourself by renting an extractor or carpet cleaner, running a commercial dehumidifier (in the basement only, not the entire house), use powerful fans to circulate air and towels to soak up the water. Make sure all furniture is dry and if any boxes are wet, remove the contents and make sure everything inside is dried as well.
If your basement carpet is wet but not under water, dry it as best you can with towels, running an extractor or carpet cleaner and running fans and/or a commercial dehumidifier to get it as dry as possible. You will need to get the floor dried within the first 72 hours or you run the risk of mold appearing. Don’t let the temperature in the basement get above 75 degrees, or you could accelerate the rate of bacterial growth throughout the basement.
Next you will need to roll back the carpet to determine if your underpad is soaked through or simply damp. If it is soaked, you will need to cut out the affected area of pad and replace it. You’ll also need to replace any soaked and rotting tack strips. Both are an inexpensive fix and won’t be visible when complete.
Wet Hardwood Floors
The rule of thumb is – the harder the wood, the slower it absorbs moisture. But on the flipside, harder woods are slower to release moisture as well. Another factor to consider with hardwood flooring is whether it was pre-finished or finished onsite. Hardwood floors sanded in-place usually have a continuous finish and absorb and release moisture much slower. Pre-finished wood flooring usually has beveled edges which allow moisture to be absorbed much faster.
Once you have absorbed the moisture on the wood floors, you’ll need to determine if you can salvage the flooring pieces. If you’re unsure how to thoroughly dry a wood floor, it’s best to call a professional. If the boards have cupped but not completely buckled, they might be salvaged. If the floor is severely cupped, the nails holding the floor to the subfloor may come loose and cause creaking and the floor may not lay completely flat and restoration will be more difficult. Never try and sand or refinish a wet, cupped floor because this will result in a crowned floor.
Wet Laminate Floors
Laminate floors do not handle moisture well and the high-density fiber core becomes swollen when it absorbs moisture and will not be salvageable. You will notice swelling at the end of the planks if they have taken on moisture. You will then need to inspect the substrate for moisture as well. If water has penetrated through and swelling has occurred, it is likely that the floor can’t be saved.
Wet Concrete and Tile Floors
Sealed concrete is the best option when it comes to withstanding moisture. It doesn’t let moisture penetrate the surface, and when paired with a waterproof paint, nearly eliminates water damage to the floor. If your concrete floor has water, simply mop it up or soak it up with towels.
Ceramic and stone tile floors, like those used in showers and bathrooms, also take on moisture very well. Like concrete, you can simply soak up any water and let it dry. Be careful, however, to understand where the water is coming from. If there is water seeping up from underneath the tile, mold can form and the mortar underneath can loosen. Once you’ve identified the source of the water leak, you can make a better-informed decision on how to protect your basement floors.
Basement Under Water
If your basement floor is sitting underneath standing water, your options become more limited. After you’ve turned off the power to the basement and secured your possessions to a dry area, you need to try and locate the source of the leak – possibly a leaking foundation, a failed sump pump, a storm sewer backing up through your floor drain, a leak through basement windows or a plumbing leak could be the culprit. If you can’t identify the source of the leak or can’t get it stopped and the floor dried yourself, you’ll need to call a professional for help.
After a rainstorm hits, check your basement immediately for any water or moisture appearing on your floors. If you notice your floors are wet, turn power off to the basement before walking around on the floors. Unplug all electronics and move all furniture and property to a dry area. Depending on what flooring you have in your basement, follow the appropriate instructions for drying out your floor and replace any damaged sections. Your sheetrock may also need replacing, so it’s a good idea to have an inspection done to make sure your basement is safe and sound going forward.
If you have any questions about wet or damaged flooring, call Jabara’s at 316-267-2512 or come to our downtown Wichita showroom located at 1816 N. Broadway to speak to one of our flooring experts.