How to Prevent Water Damage on Hardwood Floors (Complete Guide)

Water pooling under a closed door, damaging hardwood floor

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Pipes, faulty appliances and everyday accidents can all conspire to create water-damaged hardwood floors and issues that go way beyond the cosmetic. Resting-water damage can become a major issue in any room, particularly in basements (often including basement water seepage), where it could be an indicator of potential structural issues.

Water risks aren’t only an indoor problem. The danger of flooding is no longer the sole concern of coastal and lowland homeowners; it’s a potential threat to ground-level rooms across the country. This guide will alert you to the pitfalls of water-damaged hardwood floors, what you can do to prevent them, and who to call when disaster restoration is necessary.

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The Hazards of Water-Damaged Hardwood Flooring

These dangers include slip-and-fall accidents, which cause half of all accidental deaths in the home and over 1 million emergency room visits annually. Pooled water can also become a hot spot for fungal spores like mold, which can quickly exacerbate allergies and asthma while causing nasal, ocular, and respiratory complications, even in those without pre-existing conditions.

Sitting water causes serious damage to hardwood, such as splitting, shrinking, buckling, and expansion. Homeowners can avoid advanced disaster restoration entirely if they act quickly. Remember: The first sign of water on a hardwood floor is cause for action. The faster you act, the less of a physical and financial price you’ll pay.

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What to Do When There’s Water on the Floor

It’s never fun facing flooding, leaks or possibly an undetermined source of water on your hardwood floor. Remember these first-action tips when floor water is present and safe enough to tackle.

Act Fast

Every hour water spends on your floor increases the risk factor and the likelihood that larger areas of the hardwood will have to be replaced. It’s a good idea to call a professional who can quickly locate the source of any leak. Turn off the power in the affected room while you wait. You should also remove any wet objects on the floor, such as rugs and furniture, and open windows and doors to speed up drying if the local weather allows.

Be Aware of Which Type of Water Damage You Have

Clean (or white) water damage is safest to clean and comes from baths, showers, and sinks. This is the least harmful type to hardwood floors and less likely to carry bacteria. Black and gray water are more dangerous to floors and people and are best left to professionals. Black water is typically highly contaminated, while gray water is probably coming from washing machines or dishwashers and will contain chemicals.

Steer Clear or Start Cleaning

Any amount of black or gray sitting water should be avoided by people and pets. Using towels, mops, wet vacs, fans, or dehumidifiers can be a proactive way to start the cleaning process before calling a professional (provided the spill is clean/white water). Don’t hesitate to get an expert to assess the effectiveness of any cleanup you attempted alone.

These tips are your first response to any water sitting on a hardwood floor. Homeowners can, however, put proactive measures in place and make their lives easier if disaster restoration is required.

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Best Practices to Prevent Water Damage

You may already have dealt with water-damaged hardwood floors, or perhaps you never have and want to keep it that way. Here are a few must-do’s in either circumstance.

1. Seal the Flooring

Hardwood floor sealants range from aluminum oxide and shellac to polyurethane and wax. Each method has its pros and cons and can have variable effects based on the floor’s traffic, age, and environmental exposure. The sealing process is delicate and must be done carefully and repeated either annually or whenever dullness, discoloration, or scratching becomes evident.

2. Adhere to Appliance Guides and Service Them Regularly

Paying attention to the right way to use your dishwasher and washing machine can prevent water accidents and undue wear and tear. Always follow the manufacturer’s guide and never let any performance issues develop into leaks. We also recommend regular plumbing inspections.

3. Be Tough on Mold

Keep the surface of hardwood flooring clean, particularly during warmer months, to discourage mold growth, but never allow standing water to be left behind. This comprehensive guide on identifying and beating mold is essential for homeowners to protect hardwood and their health. 

4. Add Flood Insurance for Floor Defense

The next few decades will put everyone at greater risk as climate change and rising sea levels influence the map, leaving homeowners more likely to experience a flood. Use these Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) resources, consider finding flood insurance to make home damage restoration more cost-effective, and read up to demystify the flood map reading process.

Taking better defensive and offensive actions against water damage will go a long way toward maximizing your investment in them. Here’s more insight to make sure you stay even safer in the process.

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The Risks of Tackling Water Damage by Yourself

It would be wonderful if a mop and bucket were all that was needed, but the reality is that improper cleanup procedures can make a bad situation worse. Here are some common pitfalls.

Home damage restoration after water leaks will require either a quick fix or advanced work. Each case is best handled – or at least appraised – by a qualified professional.

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Get Help with Water Damage in Frederick MD

Dry House Restoration’s experienced staff can help you with any questions on water damage and walk you through the entire home and water damage restoration process. We’re the 24/7 go-to team to help undo a disaster and make sure your living space looks as good as new. Contact Dry House Restoration any time and let us take care of your home restoration needs in Frederick, Maryland.