Hardwood floors are a beautiful addition to any home. Not only are they pleasing to look at, but they can be resurfaced many times, making them capable of lasting a long time. Hardwood is also a great environmental choice. Since wood is a renewable resource, there’s less strain on the environment.
To maintain a healthy and functional hardwood floor, you must manage the moisture levels in your home. Excess moisture can cause wood floors to warp and crack, and mold can grow under the wood panels if excess moisture isn’t removed quickly. A water spill on a hardwood floor could cause problems if not quickly cleaned up. Wall 2 Wall flooring experts will tell you the best methods to clean up a water spill on a hardwood floor.
What Happens When Hardwood Floors Have Excess Moisture?
Excess moisture can be very damaging to hardwood floors. High moisture levels can be caused by moisture captured underneath the floorboards or by excess air moisture above the flooring. High humidity in a home can be a seasonal issue that can resolve on its own as the seasons change. Moisture can also be caused by a spill on a hardwood floor. Whatever the cause, high moisture levels can cause some serious damage to hardwood flooring and need to be dealt with.
Hardwood floorboards can start cupping in response to excess moisture absorbed into the boards. Cupping is when the floorboards are raised at the edges and curve inward toward the center, causing a concave shape.
Cupping is due to the uneven moisture levels inside the floorboard. There’s a higher moisture content toward the bottom of the floorboard compared to the surface, which tends to dry faster due to exposure to air.
Crowning is another way hardwood floors show damage due to high moisture content. When moisture levels remain high for an extended period of time, the floorboards absorb the moisture to saturation, and that causes the floorboards to rise in the center, causing the center of the board to be higher than the edges. This is the opposite of cupping; crowning has a convex shape.
Buckling is a third way hardwood floors show moisture damage, but this is a very uncommon occurrence. Buckling is when the floorboards pull away from the subflooring underneath, leaving a few inches’ gap in-between the hardwood floorboards and the subflooring underneath. Buckling tends to happen when severe flooding has been left standing for an extended period of time. To fix a hardwood floor that has buckled, you’ll need to replace the damaged boards with new hardwood flooring. Contact Wall 2 Wall for help with any buckling issues with your hardwood floors.
What Is the Proper Way to Clean a Water Spill on Hardwood Floors?
Leaving a water spill sitting on a hardwood floor for an extended period of time risks damage to the floorboards. The water could be absorbed into the wood, causing either warping or discoloration or both. The longer the water is in contact with the hardwood flooring, the more it can be absorbed into the wood, causing further damage to your hardwood flooring.
Water can also leak into the cracks between the floorboards, causing moisture to absorb into the subflooring beneath the hardwood floorboards. There’s also a potential for mold growth, which can begin as little as two or three days after a water spill. The more quickly you clean up any water spill on your hardwood flooring the less risk of damage occurring to your floor. Cleaning up the water spill during the first 24 hours gives the flooring the best chance of survival.
Remove Furniture and Carpeting
To clean up the water spill, you first want to remove any furniture that could be in the way or could also be wet. If there’s any carpeting over your hardwood floor where the spill occurred, you should move the carpeting and any padding from the area as well.
Next, you want to remove any water from the hardwood floor. You can soak up the water with absorbent towels, or if there’s an excessive amount of water, you can use a wet vacuum used to suck up water. Even after the water is removed from the surface of the hardwood, there may still be water seeped underneath the floorboards. Keep vacuuming even after the surface water has been removed until you see that water is no longer being sucked up into the wet vacuum.
Disinfect to Prevent Mold Growth
Once all the water has been removed, clean the wood surface with a disinfectant that doesn’t produce suds. Be sure to use a cleaning brush that won’t scratch the wood surface. This will help prevent mold growth from all the moisture that was sitting on the hardwood. Then use the wet vacuum again to make sure all the moisture has been removed after disinfecting the area.
Use Dehumidifiers and Fans
Once the area has been completely wet vacuumed and disinfected, it’s best to leave a dehumidifier in the area to absorb any moisture that may still be lingering between the floorboards or underneath the flooring. You want to leave the dehumidifier running for at least 24 hours or longer for more severe spills.
You can supplement with running fans on the highest setting to help circulate the air. Leave any windows open at least a few inches to help vent any excess moisture from the room. If the air is extremely humid or if it’s raining outside, however, leave the windows closed during this process. You can even turn on your air conditioner to help dry out the air. However, don’t use heat to dry the air out, as this can add moisture to the air and promote mold growth.
Once the area is dry, check for any mold growth. You may also use a moisture testing meter to determine when the moisture has been fully removed from the wood. It may take several weeks to show no more moisture. If you have any water damage that needs an expert’s touch, contact Wall 2 Wall for assistance.