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Do Hardwood Floors Need to be Replaced After a Flood?

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

It’s a fact: sometimes a water-damaged hardwood floor may not be salvageable in any way that makes financial sense. Severity and duration of water exposure is a major factor. For example, a hardwood floor totally submerged in standing water after an event like an outdoor flood or hurricane storm surge probably requires replacement. However, some less-severe scenarios present better chances for successful restoration.

How Wet Is Too Wet?

Common hardwood types have a “safe” moisture content (MC) of less than 10%. If exposure to water increases the MC above 12%, dimensional changes begin to occur as flooring planks swell against each other and cup, buckle and warp. If only a few boards are affected by short-term water exposure, those boards may be individually replaced or sanded down to restore a flat, smooth surface. Widespread water exposure over a longer time frame greatly diminishes chances for restoration, however, particularly if professional treatment is delayed.

Mold Also Matters

Mold growth becomes a factor if standing water seeps through a hardwood floor into the plywood subfloor. Water-soaked plywood and dust beneath the flooring provide a favorable environment for hidden mold growth. While spot treatments can address very limited areas of contamination, the only way to access widespread mold contamination in the subfloor is removal and replacement of all flooring.

For the best chance of restoring a hardwood floor after water damage, here are some contributing factors:

  • Rapid removal of pooling water before it is absorbed. Hours and even minutes count. Quick response by water damage professionals and use of wet/dry vacuums and powerful water extractors is critical to pull moisture out of the floor, ASAP.
  • Wood floors affected by water should be thoroughly scrubbed and sanitized before air-drying to mitigate the potential for mold contamination.
  • Industrial dehumidifiers must be kept running 24 hours a day to reduce moisture content. High-volume air movers are also utilized to circulate air continuously and expedite drying.
  • Drying a hardwood floor is a slow, extended process. Moisture content readings of the wood must be taken at regular intervals to determine when the optimum moisture percentage is achieved.

When the Flood Is Over, the Damage Has Just Begun…

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

flooring damaged from floodWhen it comes to water damage after a flood, it’s not over when it’s over. Flooding often delivers a one-two punch. First there’s the immediate initial damage to your home and possessions caused by submersion. Once floodwater recedes, however, the aftermath includes a period in which water damage continues to worsen progressively. That’s why rapid response by a qualified water damage recovery team is vital in the immediate wake of flooding. Even though the house isn’t underwater anymore, the damage has just begun.

Here are some examples of what goes on after the water goes away:

  • Mold growth begins within 48 hours following exposure to moisture. Toxic mold growth starts getting a foothold plus releasing airborne reproductive spores. Contamination intensifies rapidly unless/until professional mold remediation techniques are utilized to interrupt the cycle.
  • Health threats multiply. Floodwater often carries disease-causing pathogens such as hepatitis virus, e Coli bacteria, cryptosporidium and giardia which continue to infect the wet, enclosed environment of the house. Disease-carrying mosquitoes may also lay eggs in residual indoor water after a flood.
  • Saturated wallboard and ceilings begin to sag beneath the weight, losing structural integrity and eventually collapsing.  This is another reason why the interior environment frequently remains dangerous after a flood.
  • Corrosion begins forming on electrical wiring, outlets and switch boxes contacted by the water. Certain affected electrical components will require replacement for safe operation.
  • Laminate flooring starts peeling up. Hardwood flooring which has been underwater often begins to warp as it dries, pulling up and away from nails.
  • Soaked insulation inside walls and elsewhere tends to stays wet. In addition to supporting hidden mold growth, wet insulation loses its insulating properties and no longer functions to resist heat.
  • If a flooded basement is pumped out too rapidly, the weight of saturated soil surrounding the foundation may deform or collapse basement walls.
  • A slab foundation lifted by inundating floodwater may crack as soil begins to dry out and settle again. Embedded plumbing pipes may break, cracks may form in exterior walls and the roof may sag.

Post-flood Hazards To Watch Out For In Your Home

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

flood hazardsCarpet mold after flooding is just one of the issues that confronts a homeowner as the water recedes. Once-familiar surroundings can seem like an alien environment following major water damage. Before you’ve even come to grips with what’s already happened, you have to make decisions about what needs to be done next.

Not so fast. A flooded home is a source of hazards you need to be aware of. Before you enter the house and spend time on the premises, keep in mind these ongoing safety issues.

Utility Issues
Make sure power is turned off at the main electrical panel before you enter any wet areas of the home. If accessing the panel is unsafe due to residual water, leave the house and call an electrician. Natural gas lines may have ruptured as appliances were shifted by floodwater, posing fire or explosion hazard. Turn the gas off at the meter before entering the house.

Toxic Hazards
Outdoor floodwater is contaminated by raw sewage, pesticides, fuel and other substances. Communicable bacteria like E. Coli commonly infects floodwater, too. Avoid contact with bare skin and wash thoroughly before handling food or eating. Residue such as mud left behind is also tainted.

Air inside a flooded house may be hazardous. Within 48 hours after exposure to water, toxic mold growth is triggered, releasing airborne spores that may cause severe allergic response or illness when inhaled. Carpeting and padding are highly absorbent so carpet mold after flooding is a virtual certainty. Because toxic water may have inundated HVAC ductwork, the system should be inspected and cleaned if necessary before operating the A/C or furnace.

Structural Danger
Water-saturated drywall is heavy and may collapse under its weight without warning. Stay away from bulging walls or sagging ceilings. Buckled flooring may cause trip and fall hazards. The home’s foundation may be compromised due to severe flooding, as well. Tilting walls or a shifting roof are signs that could indicate a potential structural collapse.

Whether its carpet mold after flooding or structural dangers caused by water damage, Rytech professionals are ready to respond.

Safe Document Storage: Prevention Is Easier Than Replacement

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

document storageSuccessfully salvaging documents after water damage is a complex procedure that goes far beyond simply air drying. Often, specialized technology such as commercial freeze dryers are needed to prevent damaging mold growth while removing moisture from paper materials. Moreover, if professional recovery methods aren’t applied in a very short time interval, certain documents and materials such as photographs may be unsalvageable using any technique.

Preventing water damage to important documents is far preferable to salvaging documents after water damage occurs. While water damage is usually a random, unexpected event, you can take advance preparations to make sure that, if and when it happens, damage to documents is avoided or at least greatly minimized.

  • First, decide which documents are most vital and/or cherished to protect in original form. For documents with high value in both content and original form, before properly storing, scan them to digital files, then store on an external hard drive or other storage media. Backups should be made and kept in a separate place.
  • Store vital papers in commercially available water-resistant and impact-resistant file cabinets with lockable drawers. Never locate these cabinets in the basement—it’s usually the first place in the house to flood with the deepest accumulation of water.
  • If storing documents or other paper materials on shelving, make sure they are on a shelf that is a minimum of six inches above the floor to reduce the chances of contact with pooling water. Don’t utilize the top shelf, which may be exposed to dripping through the ceiling. Also don’t store documents in contact with the wall directly behind. Saturated wallboard wicks water and may transfer this moisture on contact.
  • If you have a large amount of valuable documents stored in a specific space, install water alarms in the room to alert you of water intrusion.
  • For irreplaceable documents of greatest value, consider off-site storage in a bank safety deposit box or another commercial facility.

If you’re faced with the necessity of salvaging documents after water damage, remember that time is a critical factor in a successful outcome. Contact the water damage experts at Rytech, Inc.

The Importance of Fast Cleanup Following Floodwater Damage

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

floodwater damageFrom the moment floodwater damage occurs, the clock is ticking. Minute by minute, hour by hour, until qualified water damage personnel arrive and take control of the situation, everything gets steadily worse. That’s why any reputable professional water damage recovery service operates on a 24/7/365 basis. There’s no such thing as after hours or closed for the holiday. Rapid response is critical to any successful water damage and mold remediation process.

Here are some examples of how floodwater damage worsens as time passes.

During the First Hour:

  • Water infiltrates deep into the structure.
  • Carpeting and fabrics that have become wet stain other surfaces.
  • Anything highly moisture-sensitive like home electronics, many appliances and even certain types of delicate wood flooring or furniture that have been contacted by water may already be a total loss.
  • Wet books, photos and important papers will likely require timely professional restoration techniques to save them.
  • Household electrical wiring and other electrical system components pose safety hazards.

During Day One:

  • Wooden furniture in standing water begins swelling and is permanently deformed.
  • Soaked building materials like wood and drywall swell.
  • Pungent odor of moisture-activated bacteria pervades the house.
  • Corrosion or rusting process begins on uncoated metal surfaces.
  • In outdoor flooding, snakes and other wildlife may invade the premises.

During The First Week:

  • Toxic mold growth activated by moisture begins.
  • Waterlogged drywall and ceiling panels start disintegrating.
  • Doors and windows swell and distort, becoming stuck in the closed position.
  • Wooden structure components swell, warp and split, losing structural integrity.
  • Indoor air quality may become unsafe to inhale without masks or other protection.

After one week, a flooded house is dangerous to enter for anyone other than trained professionals with specialized equipment. Rampant mold growth, as well as other likely contaminants such as sewage, make the environment highly toxic. Deterioration of structural materials creates dangers of collapsing walls and ceilings. Standing water in a flooded basement may have permanently cracked the foundation. Costs of successful recovery increase dramatically.

Don’t waste time when floodwater damage occurs. Get an instant, informed response anytime you call the professionals at Rytech, Inc.