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When you experience water damage in your home, certain questions arise pertaining to the scope of work necessary to safely restore and return the affected rooms back to their pre-loss conditions. One of the most important and immediate questions is whether or not the flooring material can be dried or if it needs to be removed and replaced. Many factors come into play when evaluating this question, such as the type and age of the flooring material, the amount and contamination level of the water involved, and the length of time since the loss was discovered. While your own best judgment plays a part in answering the question, “to save or not to save,” there is no substitute for a careful inspection by a licensed water restoration professional. The following are some basic guidelines we use when examining floors for salvage-ability, which should give you a better idea of what to expect when faced with your own water loss claim. For the next few scenarios, we will assume that the quality of the water involved is Category 1, or clean water that has been released onto the floors within the last 48 hours.

In the case of carpets, the first thing we do is compare a reading of a dry area to that of an affected portion to determine the differential in moisture content. Next, a technician uses special tools to pull up a corner of the wet carpet and examine it from beneath. If the carpet backing is already separating from the glue of the carpet threads, this is called delamination, and that is grounds for removing and replacing the carpet in the entire room. The evidence of delamination is photographed for the insurance company and the carpet is replaced. However, if the backing is still intact and strong enough to dry in place, only the wet portion of the pad beneath the carpet is removed and the carpet is “floated” with an air mover tucked underneath and a dehumidifier nearby to dry out the carpet as its moisture is brought out into the air of the room.

With hard floors, sometimes it can be difficult to determine exactly what type of floor you have if you did not install or purchase it yourself. There are many high quality laminate floors that appear to be genuine hardwood flooring until you inspect underneath to find that they are simply locked into place and sitting atop a soft pad underlayment. If the amount of water is sufficient to cause a buckling or cupping effect on the surface, then laminate floors are removed and replaced rather than drying in place. An actual hardwood floor that has been glued down to the slab can sometimes be saved and brought back to its former appearance with the use of a specialized drying strategy using chambers of focused air movement and rapid dehumidification. In some cases, this drying strategy has even been able to reverse and flatten the visible buckling of individual planks, but a professional WRT (water restoration technician) can evaluate and determine if saving the floors is possible or even advisable, considering the cost of drying versus replacement and the current market value of the floors in question. 

Vinyl flooring is almost always removed in situations where a large amount of water was present for several hours. This is because the vinyl is not porous enough to effectively dry in place, and the glue beneath it will weaken and lose its bond over time as it dries naturally, also creating an unwanted food source for mold to develop. Ceramic tile is one of the most water-resistant flooring options available, but in cases where there was a large amount of standing water over an extended period, some of the tiles may eventually come loose and have to be replaced. 

No matter what type of flooring material involved, Category 3 or contaminated water from sewage or outside flooding is always grounds for removal of anything that isn’t permanently structural. These guidelines were created to insure safety and financial responsibility for you, your insurance provider, and the contractors you choose to perform your work.

Enviro-Clean Services in Houma, LA specializes in water restoration and cleanup. In the unfortunate event you discover water damage, do not hesitate to give us a call. We are available to help 24/7.

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