Wood floors are tricky. Unlike drywall and insulation, that upon contact with water must be discarded and there is no financial sense in trying to dry them out, wood floors experiencing water damage are often worth trying to save. Especially the nice expensive kind!
After contact with water the grains in the wood to swell and crack which on the surface could lead to swelling and then buckling. The grains in the wood are saturated with water, so the wood panels in your floor would slightly expand. If this expansion is not stopped by drying out the wood panels, the floor would eventually buckle; the panels would rise up from the subfloor in an arch shape.
The drying protocol that in used in the property with wood floors is has to be one specifically adapted for such floors. Make sure you hire a professional for the job even if it appears easy! It’s not enough to crank up the drying equipment and dry the floor as quickly as possible (as often less knowledgeable restoration companies that are on a tight schedule would try to do). Wood floors need to be dried gradually and evenly across the affected area. Sudden and unequal drying could cause cracking or splitting.
Using a certified professional with reliable and effective drying equipment is critical in a situation of hardwood floors. Using the correct equipment can accelerate the drying process, but shooting dry air on the floor from above and below as well as from different directions. Sometimes your restoration professional would opt to remove a wood panel every few feet to create another opening to the cavity in order to force air in, as well as to relieve the pressure between the wood panels as those swell from the moisture. This can expedite drying and prevent cracking of the panels. Another technique used in many cases is to create a small containment above the wood floor, to limit the air space that is necessary to dry along with the floor. The entire floor would be tented with plastic and machines would force dry air into the containment and onto the floors. A lot of times this can really reduce the time of the drying process.
Another common mistake is to sand the floor when it is still slightly moist or wet. When the wood is saturated, it expands and becomes slightly cupped on the surface (the edges of the panel rise up slightly). If the floor is sanded while still wet it would appear leveled once you are done sanding, but it is deceiving. Once the floor dries back to its normal shape, each panel will become crowned leaving an uneven surface. It will be permanently damaged.
If for any reason you choose to attempt the drying of your hardwood floors on your own, make sure not to use direct heat to dry hardwood floors, since this can cause uneven drying, which will lead to cracking. Even continuous air flow is most conducive to drying. Try opening all windows and floors, and turning on fans for better circulation. If your floors are dear to you – even if it doesn’t look like a big deal at first – turn to a professional and ask for a cost effective deal, it will be worth your while in the long run.
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