If your home has recently flooded, and you have wood floors, obviously you want to do everything you can to save them. Leaving too much water behind can encourage the growth of mold and mildew as well as lead to cupping and buckling of your floors. Once this happens, they have to be replaced altogether. There are a few special steps involved in cleaning wood floors after a flood, but it's fairly simple when you know what to do.
Remove the Water
After you've taken all the furniture out of the room, you'll need to rent a wet vac to remove all the standing water. But it doesn't stop there. Even after the floor appears to be dry, give it another round just to be sure. The vacuum will continue to suck up water that has seeped into the pores of the wood.
Be sure to empty the vac as often as you can. This will keep the suction stronger and help prevent water from leaking out once it gets too full.
Clean the Floor
Once you've vacuumed thoroughly, the next step is to use a non-sudsing, wood-safe cleanser on your floors. This will remove any contaminants like dirt, oil, grease, and anything other micro-particles adhering to the wood. Because these contaminants can hold water deep in the pores, cleaning is a critical step.
After cleaning, use the wet vac once again to remove any water that was possibly left behind.
Place a dehumidifier in the center of the room and allow it to run on the highest setting for the day. Check the pan regularly and empty as needed. Once it stops filling, you can be fairly confident it's safe to move on to the next step.
Also, running fans concurrently can speed up the process. And only open windows to facilitate drying if it isn't raining or excessively humid outside.
Check Your Basement
If you have a basement, check the ceiling for any wet spots that are continuing to drip. This could indicate water trapped in the wood subfloors above.
Drill a small hole in any areas that are wet or still leaking to allow air to flow freely and facilitate the drying process. If the ceiling is too wet to drill a hole, you may need to cut out a square and set it aside to dry. If it remains intact once it's completely dry, you can put it back in place, filling in the seams with compound.
Test the Floor For Moisture
Once you're fairly certain your floors are dry, you should test them to be sure. You don't want to move furniture back in if damp areas are still present as this could not only ruin your floors, but the legs of your furniture as well. To run the test, use a moisture meter that's right for the depth of your floors. The pinless meters are a popular choice as they don't require nailing pins into the wood to get an accurate reading.
There are a couple things to keep in mind. First, you want some moisture to be present, and how much will vary depending on your climate. Second, be sure to test several areas of the room, taking an average once you're done.
Normal readings for wood moisture inside the home shouldn't exceed 12%. If you live in a area of low relative humidity, a reading of 7% is considered pretty good. If you're in the 16%-20% range, you know you haven't quite removed enough water. Anything over 20% will lead to the decay and degradation of your floors, and this is also the magical number at which mold can start growing. Run the wet vac again as many times as it takes. And keep meter-testing until you get the readings you want. If you would like help cleaning and restoring your home after a flood, contact a company like Spotless Carpet Cleaners & Janitorial Services Inc.