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Water Under Floorboards? Here’s How to Repair the Damage

You come home and immediately notice something is off. Your floor seems damp. Moving inside, you find yourself in a small pool of water—water that has already damaged the electrical wires of your home, and may allow mold to grow. 

No one wants this to happen to them, but unfortunately, water damage under floorboards can happen to any one of us at any time.

Not only do you need to repair the damage, but you also need to find the source of the leak, which can be difficult.

Each week here at ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, we help businesses and homeowners in Chicago, IL and surrounding areas recover from water damage.

In this guide, we want to pass on our knowledge on how to fix water damage under floorboards

Let’s dive in. 

Why Is Water Seeping Through My Floor?

water under laminate floor

Finding water under floorboards is never pleasant. The first thing you’ll want to do when you see water under floorboards is to locate the source of the problem. 

Several things can cause water to seep under floorboards, from leaky pipes to septic issues

Here are the top reasons why you might see water under floorboards:

  • Ceiling leaks
  • Plumbing Issues
  • Underfloor heating leaks
  • Groundwater

You’ll want to inspect the area above and around your floor. Is the water coming from the ceiling or the ground? 

Look for any plumbing issues and turn off your water meter to better locate the source. If you detect a leak coming from a leaky pipe, reach out to a professional plumber for help. 

Sometimes, the issue may be a lack of insulation or waterproofing. When excess groundwater is the root cause, water may seep in through the basement or ground level. 

If that is the case, you will likely have cracks that allow the rising water table to permeate your foundation. 

What Happens If Water Gets Under Floorboards?

electrical fire hazard danger due to water under floorboard

Water under floorboards presents a danger to electrical components and can also become a health hazard by promoting mold growth and damaging surrounding materials. 

Tap water contains ions with electrical conductivity. While these are harmless in solid form, water dissolves them and causes positive and negative ions to separate. The process allows electricity to flow through. 

1.    Electrical fire hazard

When electrical outlets come into contact with water, the current exponentially increases. Thus, water damage can potentially result in electrocution or an electrical fire

2.    Mold growth

Mold is also a serious concern after water damage and takes only between 24 and 48 hours to grow. Due to how quickly water damage can become toxic, it’s crucial to take immediate action. 

Mold exposure may result in several symptoms like the following:

  • Rashes
  • Trouble breathing
  • Congestion
  • Eye Irritation
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat and congestion

Although rare, health problems can be severe and include mold poisoning. If you have a suppressed immune system or are sensitive to allergens, you are more at risk for developing complications from mold exposure. 

3.    Structural damage

In addition to the health risks it presents, water under floorboards can create costly damage. 

The damage can spread to your walls, your electrical outlets, and appliances, and permanently ruin your flooring. Even if you have tile flooring, water damage can destroy the glue.

Unfortunately, water can damage almost any material. 

5 Steps to Get Rid of Water Under Floorboards

water under floorboards repair

As soon as you notice water under floorboards, start by addressing the cause. Here are five simple steps you can take to get rid of water under floorboards. 

1.    Remove coverings and dispose of paper products

If you have rugs or mats covering the wet floor, you should immediately remove them. 

Though you may have to discard soaked carpeting or mats to avoid mold growth, you can always contact a water damage restoration company like ServiceMaster of Lake Shore here in Chicago to see what they suggest.

If you plan to keep any wet floor coverings, thoroughly clean them first. 

Paper products like books and magazines are prone to mold. If you have these in the room with water damage, it’s best to dispose of them.

If you need to salvage them, do so with caution. 

2.    Begin drying the area

Start placing towels on your wet floor to absorb excess water. 

Next, carefully mop the area to ensure you target any residual wetness. If you have access to a dehumidifier, place one near the wet floor at its highest setting to remove any remaining moisture.

To isolate the affected area, you may consider using a tarp to block any cracks. When necessary, shut any doors to prevent the water from spreading further. 

If the water leak is excessive, you may consider renting a pump from a hardware store to soak it up. However, the best thing to do is call a trusted water damage restoration company like ServiceMaster of Lake Shore to assess the damage and professionally restore the water damage.

3.    Clean and disinfect

It’s a good idea to brush or scrub your floors with detergent before letting them air-dry. 

Especially if you think you have mud or dirt in the floor’s crevices, scrubbing a little will help you minimize damage. 

Choose a cleaner that can disinfect your flooring and doesn’t create suds. If you have hardwood floors, ensure your product is safe for wood. 

4.    Ventilate the room

Set up fans to ventilate the area and turn them on at the highest setting. 

You can also open windows to let in air and sunlight. If you live in a humid climate or it’s actively raining, however, rely only on the fans. 

If you’ve got an additional floor level beneath the water damage, place fans there too and aim them upward. 

5.    Call ServiceMaster of Lake Shore

After you’ve taken the steps above and you’re in the Chicagoland area, you should contact our professionals to help with the rest: (312) 707-8597

Our experts will tell you how extensive the damage is, measure the remaining moisture, and begin repairing.

Using our high-quality equipment, we can minimize your costs on fixing the water damage and ensure your safety.

How Long Will It Take To Repair Water Damage?

water under floorboard detection

The length of time it takes to repair water damage depends on a property’s size and the water source.

Large properties may take longer to repair but the process may be finished within several days. If the affected area is small, our technicians may complete the repair process in a few hours. 

Other factors that may affect the length of time a repair takes include the type of room in the property, the materials involved, and whether plumbing repair is necessary. 

How To Protect Your Floors From Water Damage

There are several steps you can take to prevent water damage on your floors. As long as you’re diligent with maintenance, your risks of having water under floorboards will be minimal. 

1.    Update your sealant

Maintaining your floor sealant will not only prevent water from seeping in but also ensure your floor lasts longer.

If you have pets, sealant becomes an even larger concern because of constant clawing. You’ll want to choose one with waterproof capabilities, such as polyurethane, wax, or oil. 

Always clean your floor before applying sealant. Use a large broom to brush on it when you’re sealing a concrete floor such as a basement.  

2.    Keep up with your plumbing

Old or damaged plumbing is a common cause of water leaks.

If you have an older home, you should also check for corroded pipes. Ensuring you have modern plumbing in good condition is crucial in preventing water leaks. 

3.    Watch out for leak sources

You should maintain and repair any AC systems or heaters that may potentially leak water. Clean your filters and replace them regularly. Also, make sure to soak up and mop any spontaneous spills. 

You can also build sensible habits like never letting umbrellas drip on the floor when you come in on a rainy day.

Keep towels or rags accessible so you can quickly grab one in case of a spill. 

4.    Rely on mats

Floor coverings provide an added layer of protection against leaks and spills. 

Mats and rugs can absorb moisture in places prone to wetness, like bathrooms and doorways. 

Larger carpets in dining areas are also helpful in protecting your floors. 

5.    Choose the right cleaners

Be cautious when buying floor cleaners. If you have hardwood floors, make sure to only purchase safe products. 

You can apply the same concept to mops. Depending on your flooring material, you can choose from several products to find an ideal fit. 

Why Should I Hire a Professional To Repair Water Damage?

Though you can clean up simple spills and leaks easily, larger water leaks can be costly and cause extensive damage. 

Not only will hiring professionals help you solve the problem more quickly and efficiently, but the repair will extend beyond fixing the source of the leak. If your ceilings or pipes need repair, for example, hiring a professional will save time.

In addition, the best way to avoid serious health risks is by repairing your water damage professionally.

Renting or buying heavy-duty equipment is costly and time-consuming. The process can be overwhelming.

Lastly, by hiring a professional to repair your water damage, you can receive help with filing insurance claims. 

Do You Have Water Under Your Floor in Chicago? We Can Repair the Damage!

Spills and leaks are an inevitable part of life. Even when you’re diligent about maintenance and repairs, sometimes unexpected water damage happens

If you live in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs, your best chance of mitigating risks associated with water damage, contact us today.

You can also reach us at (312) 707-8597. Our experts will save the integrity of your property and ensure your safety after any water damage