Whether from a spill, a leak, or excess humidity, moisture can damage a floor quickly. Worse, mold can begin developing as soon as 24 hours after your floor gets wet, so it's important to act quickly as soon as you notice the problem. These tips will help you salvage your flooring and prevent further damage.
- Recognize the warning signs. These will vary depending on the type of flooring you have, and some are obvious, such as wet carpet in the living room or puddles of water near the bathroom sink. Some can be easier to miss, like grout lines changing color or wood planks curling at the edges. In general, you should investigate any change in color or texture.
- Get rid of the excess moisture. Mop up any puddles of water, but don't stop there, as the water may have already been absorbed into the floor. Fans and dehumidifiers can be used to remove moisture you might not be able to see. Carpet can be especially vulnerable to mold, but other flooring, such as linoleum, can trap water and cause mold to grow where you can't see it.
- Identify the source. You'll probably notice when someone spills a drink or the bathtub overflows, but if the problem isn't obvious? A small leak that doesn't get fixed can be worse than a burst pipe that has you calling the plumber immediately. Regularly check for moisture around sinks, pipes, and even appliances like refrigerators and air conditioning units. If you suspect humidity, air conditioning can help keep it at a tolerable level.
- Assess the damage. Unfortunately, not all materials can be saved, particularly if the damage is extensive. Carpet padding is highly absorbent and should be thrown away before it grows mold. Likewise, water damaged subflooring can rot, and in severe cases this can spread to other parts of the house. The flooring itself can sometimes be cleaned and reinstalled, whether carpet, hardwood, or tile, but you need to act quickly.
As always, you should consult a professional if you're unsure about any of these steps, or if the damage is excessive or recurring. Your floor is an integral part of your home, and the time and money you'll spend replacing it can be saved if you learn how to stop a problem in its tracks.