Flooded Floors? How And When To Save Them

After water damage, deciding whether to keep damaged floors can be a big -- and expensive -- decision. How can you be sure it's safe to clean and restore carpets, hardwoods or underlayment? While you don't want to waste money buying all new materials, you also don't want to risk further damage or health problems. 

Here are tips for deciding what to keep and what to get rid of after water floods your carpets or wood floors.


It's recommended to remove and throw out the carpet pad no matter what the level of water damage was. This is because it's hard to ensure complete drying and easy for mold or other problems to remain hidden. But what about the carpet itself?

Whether or not to dry out the carpet is determined by the type of water that flooded it: sanitary or unsanitary. Sanitary water is essentially clean water, such as from a burst clean water pipe. Unsanitary water is much more common in household flooding, and it includes rain and flood water from outside the house, sewer or unclean toilet overflows and water from waterbeds. 

Sanitary water is a flood that some carpets can survive. After controlling the influx of water, remove all items on the carpet (if possible) and avoid walking on the carpet.  Punch small holes in the submerged portions of the lower drywall to facilitate drying. Remove the carpeting from the tack strip to elevate it for drying. Place circulating fans around the space to speed up the drying. If the area is excessively moist, dehumidifiers can be added to further reduce humidity and to quicken drying. The goal of the drying-out process is to have the carpet dry within 12 hours. Otherwise, you risk permanent damage.  

Unsanitary water flooding should most likely end with you removing and throwing out the carpet along with the pad. Bacteria, mold and fungus can grow too easily in such water. If you decide to try to keep the carpet, work with a professional carpet restoration service that uses disinfectants and protective equipment. 


As with carpeting, it's key to begin drying out hardwood floors immediately. Use circulating fans and dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture from the air and speed drying. Pull up the hardwood flooring to examine it for signs of bubbling, peeling, or warping. Warped sections of wood should be replaced, although the entire floor often does not need completely repaired.  

After it dries, check the hardwood for either white or black stains. Hazy white stains indicate surface damage and can be cleaned by buffing the wood with an abrasive and cloth. Once the stain is buffed out, stain the wood again and apply sealant.

Black stains are deeper damage and mean that the wood may need replaced. If you want to try to clean such stains, do so in an isolated area. Remove the wax with steel wool or sandpaper. Using a mixture of oxalic acid and water, buff out the stained section completely. Stain the wood to match the rest and add sealant before replacing the boards.  

If you're at all unsure about how to properly repair your flooring materials -- or if you have severe or stagnant flooding -- it's best to contact a professional cleaning and restoration service that specializes in floors. With quick action and experienced help, you can often save your floors and your wallet. For more information, talk to a company like Concord Carpet Care.