Having a hardwood floor is one of the best ways to bring an elegant aesthetic to your home and boost its value. Hardwood, when properly cared for, can last for many years, unlike alternative options such as carpeting, which will need to be deep cleaned and replaced more regularly. Alternatively, hardwood floors are very low-maintenance, requiring only a little bit of soapy water and a mop to clean most of the time. As a result, they are a perfect investment in most homes.
Nevertheless, hardwood floors do have their own requirements for care and you will need to put in a bit of effort to make sure they stay in good shape. One thing that hardwood floors are sensitive to is water damage. This article will help you to identify water damage and, if it occurs, take steps to repair it while preventing further harm.
How To Identify Hardwood Floor Water Damage
Hardwood floors, while extremely durable, are also quite vulnerable to moisture. You need not have a flood for water damage to occur. Sometimes, all it takes is an imbalance between the moisture in the air and the moisture in the wood. That’s why you should always keep an eye out for the signs of water damage, even if you don’t think it’s something you necessarily have to worry about.
One of the most telltale signs of hardwood floor water damage is known as cupping. This is what happens when moisture causes the wood to expand, pushing the boards together and deforming them in the center. This leads to the edges of the board being higher than the center. This can occur when you have spills and can also occur from moisture imbalances in the wood.
Another sign of hardwood floor water damage is called crowning and is essentially the opposite of cupping. While cupping occurs when the edges of the boards are higher than the center, crowning occurs when the boards, being pushed together as a result of expansion caused by moisture, raise up in the center. If either cupping or crowning is left unchecked, it can lead to buckling, which is when the boards actually begin to lift off of the subfloor, causing a great deal of damage to your hardwood floor.
Other signs include the floor cracking, the boards separating, or the wood becoming weak and soft. If any of these signs occur, you have hardwood floor water damage and must take steps to prevent further damage and fix what has already occurred.
Preventing Further Damage
The first thing you will have to do if you notice hardwood floor water damage is to halt the spread of the damage. To do that, you will need to figure out of source of the moisture that is harming your floor. This can be a leak, a spill, a floor installed over a concrete slab that was not fully dried, or often simply an imbalance between the moisture in the air and the moisture in the wood. If this is the case, diagnosing the problem will not be as simple as just finding out where a pipe is leaking. You will need to procure a moisture meter, which is a type of device used to read the amount of water in the wood. You will also need to check the relative humidity (RH) in the air and compare the two. If the humidity in the air is higher than the moisture on the floor, that extra water could be causing the hardwood boards to warp and split. If this is the case, you will need to correct the moisture imbalance. This may require an inspection of your HVAC system. Problems with your heating and cooling system can lead to problems with your wood floor. You may need to install a dehumidifier in your home in order to get the excess moisture out of the air. If the air is too dry, causing the wood to dry out and shrink, you can install a humidifier into your furnace. If you take regular take care to inspect the moisture in the air and in the water, it will go a long way toward preventing further water damage.
Repairing Hardwood Water Damage
Chances are, by the time you have noticed hardwood water damage in your home, it has already caused some real problems in your floor. While this is bad, there are steps you can take to fix this damage, with the necessary repairs depending on what type of damage has occurred. If you notice signs of crowning, this can be repaired by simply sanding the floor back to normal after removing the source of the moisture on your floor. You will have to clear out the entire room, vacuum away all debris and set down plastic covering to catch the sawdust.
You can then carefully sand down the crowned boards very carefully with a fine grain of sandpaper. Sanding can also help to fix cupping damage although if the floor is sanded excessively without removing the source of the damage it can ruin the hardwood floor. If you notice that your wood floors are buckling, you may have to remove and replace some of the hardwood planks if they have become too warped to be salvaged. If the damage has proceeded too far, you may have to replace your hardwood floor entirely, which is why it is important to identify and solve problems as quickly as possible.
If your floor is damaged, or you suspect that it may become damaged, you can often take steps to solve this problem on your own. However, often you may need to seek the help of an experienced professional flooring company who can fix most of your problems for you. If your home is in the Portland, Oregon area, Wall2Wall Hardwoods is an excellent resource for diagnosing, repairing and preventing hardwood floor water damage. Contact us if you suspect you may be dealing with a problem related to moisture in your floor.