Hardwood floor water damage...What should I do?

nhbasketsMarch 4, 2010

Last weekend we lost our power for 2 1/2 days due to a wind storm that hit northern New England. We happened to be away while this happened and came home to a puddle of water on the hardwood floor in front of our refrigerator. We have an in-door ice maker and the ice in the shoot evidently melted with nowhere to go but my newly refinished floor. A 3' x 3' area in front of the refrig is now totally warped. I'm afraid to even see what is under the refrig. I've contacted our insurance company and they said we are covered, less our deductable.

My question now is, should we have this section of the floor replaced or just sanded down and refinished? If just a small section is done, will you be able to tell? During our kitchen remodel last year, we added additional hardwood flooring in the adjoining dining room and had everything refinished. It looked beautiful. I'm so heartbroken now.

Before the insurance adjustor shows up, any recommendations would be appreciated.

Below is a picture, pre-damage, so you can get an idea of the area.

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plumeriavine

Call in some floor men and get their opinions.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 11:33AM
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bestyears

Our neighbor had the exact situation -ice maker went flooey. Here's the interesting part -they got the insurance company to pay for new floors for the entire downstairs of the house because they couldn't match it exactly, and it all flowed from one room to the next. It took a bit of arm-wrangling of course, but just wanted to let you know that in case it is helpful. I would think, based on that, that you should be able to get the entire kitchen floor at least, and not just patch it.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 11:35AM
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sue36

I would get a few opinons/estimates. If the warping is only slight they might be able to refinish, but not if it is severe.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 11:39AM
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ccoombs1

If it's solid hardwood, give it a chance to dry out before you panic. Often when hardwood buckles from water, it will flatten back out and you will not even be able to tell it ever happened.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 11:45AM
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nhbaskets

Thanks for the quick responses! I have contacted our GC, who had arranged for the flooring company originally, to have them come and look at things. Having a totally new floor put in is appealing, however, the thought of the hassle it would create certainly is not. It's good to know that this is not unheard of.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 11:48AM
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gayl

This happened to us a couple of years ago, once in the bathroom, once in the kitchen. Each time, we were told to wait until it dried out, and it was amazing how much it improved things. However, while the bath did not have to be re-done, the kitchen did. They simply refinished it and it looked great.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 11:53AM
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weissman

I hate to bring this up, but be careful about filing an insurance claim particularly if it's not for a large amount. They may pay the claim but then raise your rates substantially, refuse to renew your policy and/or blacklist with other companies - this is true even for legitimate claims. Insurance companies are not nice people - some states do have or are planning legislation to abolish these unethical practices.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 12:15PM
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needsometips08

I had a kid's friend dump a glass of water on my hardwood where it sat for probably 6 hours. We have solid oak hardwood.

It buckled at the seams, but 2 months later it was perfectly flat again. It wasn't quick, but it did fix itself!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 12:34PM
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bluekitobsessed

I had a similar situation with an icemaker line that damaged the hardwood in the kitchen and an adjacent hallway. The insurer paid for replacement of the entire downstairs because the hallway hardwood had been discontinued. The adjuster indicated that if it hadn't been discontinued, they might try to replace only a few boards. (I would have fought her if that was a serious proposal, but it wasn't.)

I'll echo weissman's comment -- I sue insurers on claims like this for a living, and for a small claim it's not worth it.

The insurer should have brought in fans/blowers immediately upon you reporting the claim. Sometimes the fans/blowers can work wonders with drying things out, esp. if you're on a raised foundation.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 1:11PM
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mom2reese

We had a problem in our kitchen with a standalone icemaker, and the warping was terrible - made me totally heartsick. We had our flooring guy come out, and he advised us to give it some time to dry out. We did, and you can't even tell there was ever a problem! I wanted to say it took several weeks to fully flatten out, but I can't remember exactly... It's funny because at the time I was extremely upset (lots of tears) and angry with the incorrectly installed icemaker (lots fo cursing), and now it's just a distant memory.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 1:51PM
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nhbaskets

I am certainly optimistic with those who have said to give it time to dry out. That would be the best possible scenario. I also appreciate the comments about not filing an insurance claim for a small amount. Sad that you pay homeowners insurance for 26 years, never filing a claim, then have to worry about your rates going up for doing so.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 2:27PM
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cat_mom

One of the pipes to (at?) our kick-heaters under our island developed a leak at one of the welds, unbeknownst to us. I'd noticed some of the poly lifting at the edge of one of the floor boards in front of the island. Finally, when pressing on that spot, it felt wet. Eventually, that board and one or two on either side had started to warp or cup.

Following the pipe repair, we decided to wait and see if the floor boards would flatten out on their own before calling in the floor guy for repair or replacement. They flattened out perfectly. You've got nothing to lose by waiting (unless your insurance company's clock is ticking).

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 5:02PM
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pickle2

I agree with waiting (unless you have some insurance time limitation to file a claim). Even engineered hardwoods can flatten out with time. We had a leak in our powder room. The floor by the leak looked awful at the time we discovered the leak, but recovered within a couple of weeks. Amazing.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 6:20PM
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