Hardwood flooring is a stylish, suitable, and sustainable floor covering for kitchens. However, great care needs to be taken immediately if your dishwasher or plumbing breaks and sends water cascading onto your hardwood flooring. Wood expands when it absorbs water, which will cause the wood flooring to buckle if the water and moisture are not removed as soon as possible. Here are the flood damage mitigation steps that will be necessary if there's a flood in your kitchen from a broken dishwasher or water pipe.
- Turn the water off. The first thing to do is to turn the water off. If the dishwasher is the culprit, locate the water shut-off valve underneath the sink. It's located on the hose that goes to the dishwasher. If the refrigerator is the culprit, locating the shut-off valve may be a little trickier but this guide may help. Alternatively, shut off the main water valve.
- Remove the water. Remove the flooded water by using a wet vac and/or a mop. Be sure to move appliances out of the way so you can remove the water from underneath the appliances as well.
- Remove the wood flooring. It's important to also remove the wood flooring after a flood so the water can be removed from underneath the wood planks. The underside of the planks should be labeled and diagrammed so they can be reinstalled in the same layout at the completion of the damage mitigation efforts. Of course, great care needs to be taken so there's no further damage done to the wood planks.
- Remove water from the subflooring. Remove any water from the subflooring or underlayment by using a wet vac or a mop.
- Inspect the subflooring components. If there is a waterproof membrane, inspect it to determine if there are any holes in the membrane where water may have infiltrated further into the underlying flooring structures. If there is no waterproof membrane, remove the subflooring to inspect for water infiltration and/or damage to the supporting structure.
- Dry the flooring and subflooring. After the water has been removed from the flooring and subflooring, allow the components to dry before moving forward. The drying process is important to prevent warping as well as mold and mildew growth in the future. This process can be sped up by the use of dehumidifiers and fans. Depending on the size of the flooded area, the drying process may take several days to be completed.
- Inspect all components for damage. Before replacing the wood flooring, the individual planks and subflooring will need to be inspected for damage. If some planks are warped, they may need to undergo further flood damage mitigation efforts such as applying heat and weight to essentially flatten the wood back into place. However, unless the hardwood flooring is irreplaceable, it's usually more feasible to purchase new planks instead if the damage is that extreme.
- Reinstall the subflooring and hardwood floor. If the subflooring was removed, that will obviously need to be reinstalled first, followed by reinstalling the hardwood flooring. To ensure the flooring fits together as before, follow the labels that were created in step 3 above.
- Refinish the flooring, if necessary. If some of the planks were warped or damaged, replacement planks will need to be purchased and used. If new matching planks cannot be found, the wood floor may need to be stripped and all the planks finished with the same stain.
Due to the complexities involved in removing and reinstalling a hardwood floor, it's a good idea to hire a flood damage mitigation service instead of attempting to do the work yourself as a do-it-yourself project.