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What happens if vinyl flooring gets wet & How to dry it out?

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With most floors water and is their biggest enemy. We need to be cautious when they became wet, cleaning them asap should be our biggest priority. On the opposite side, there is vinyl flooring.

What happens if vinyl flooring gets wet & How to dry it out

What happens if vinyl flooring gets wet?

If your vinyl plank floors get wet, the answer is simple. Clean it up. One of the big advantages of vinyl plank flooring is that it is water-resistant. This type of flooring is recommended for kitchens, bathrooms, and basements; all rooms in the house where you are more likely to have water spills or moisture. It won’t get water stains easily or suffer surface damage from spills or pet accidents.

For more information about cleaning and mopping your vinyl plank flooring, check out my article “Can You Use Swiffer on Vinyl Plank Floors“. Water still can sneak inside vinyl plank flooring so you may want to read more about when we go deep in how to prevent and dry everything out. Read also my extensive guide about best underlayment for vinyl flooring to. Make sure you buy right one.

Water Can Damage Your Vinyl plank flooring

One of the advantages often talked about for vinyl plank flooring is that it is generally water-resistant. That great quality about vinyl floors requires a little clarification, however. Water actually can do damage so you need to clean your vinyl plank floors.

Its surface is water-resistant to spills and accidents from an untrained pet. If spills occur you should clean them up quickly so they don’t sit on the vinyl for extended period of time. Additionally, those spills and pet accidents are usually a rather small quantity of water, not a flood of water coming in through a leaky window or basement floor during a storm.

Problem lies in subfloor or substrate

The sneaky offenders for causing water damage to vinyl plank flooring have to do with the subfloor or substrate. If your vinyl plank flooring was installed over a concrete slab then it should have been thoroughly cured and tested for moisture. If it was installed over a wood subfloor then leakage, flooding, or a wet underlayment can be the culprits. These issues are complex and best avoided.

Be sure your installer follows the manufacturer guidelines exactly and does not cut any corners to save you (or them) time or money. 

If you choose to install the flooring yourself, make sure you research exactly what you need to do in order to retain your warranty.

Vinyl plank flooring is often touted as an easy DIY home flooring project, and while that may be true, DIY requires hard work, time, and knowledge.

Even if you make sure your vinyl plank flooring is installed properly over a properly dry substrate, other things can happen in homes that can cause problems. Other causes of water damage can include:

  • plumbing issues with toilet, sink, or shower/bath
  • ground water moisture
  • leaking or overflowing dishwasher or washing machine
  • crawlspace moisture

If you discover any of the above issues present in your home, don’t wait for visible signs of damage to your flooring. Get your plumbing issues, or leaky appliances fixed right away. The longer water and moisture has time to work, the worse the damage to your floor, and the more complicated or expensive the fix to your flooring will be.

What Water Damage on Vinyl Plank Flooring Looks Like

Water damage on vinyl plank flooring is unattractive, as it is on any floor. If you are concerned you might have a moisture or water problem under your vinyl plank floor, look for these characteristics that range from mild in appearance to obvious:

  • Deteriorating adhesive – Do any planks seem to move when previously they did not?
  • Deteriorating or opening seams – Are any seams on your planks deteriorating or opening up?
  • Discoloration – If your vinyl plank floor is healthy there shouldn’t be any discoloration because of its stain resistant properties.
  • Bumps, ridges, or bubbles – Check by feeling for any of these, not only by looking, your fingers can find what your eyes may miss.

Moisture and How to Get it out of Vinyl Floors?

If the floor is flooded you may need remove the vinyl planks from the floor to assess the problem and the damage. Use your Shop Vac or a mop to pull up the floodwater quickly and begin running dehumidifiers and fans immediately. Then call your installer. If your vinyl is a floating floor or click clack, you may be able to remove a portion of the planks and use a Shop Vac to blow air under the floor to dry out the subfloor.

A Shop Vac is a vacuum that pulls up both dry and wet messes. It comes in a range of capacities all the way up to 2.5 gallons. It has the power to work as a water extractor just be careful not to exceed its capacity.

If you end up removing some planks to dry out the subfloor you want to make sure it is dry before replacing them. To check the moisture level of the concrete or wood subfloor you can use a moisture meter. 

The General Tools Digital Moisture Meter has four settings, concrete, drywall, masonry, and wood. By touching the prongs to the subfloor, you can determine when it is dry enough to put the vinyl planks back down.

If you didn’t have flooding, but do have a moisture issue turn on the heater and put some fans in the room. Run the heater (not too hot) and the fans for a couple of days. If the room in question is in the basement, it is a good idea to have a dehumidifier because basements sometimes are more damp than other parts of the house.

The medium sized dehumidifier by hOmelabs comes highly recommended. This dehumidifier is perfect for medium to large sized rooms that are generally damp. This makes them perfect for basements. The same manufacturer makes a larger version as well, but for most people this size will be just right.

This will extract up to 22 pints of air moisture per day, and has the benefit of a sleek modern appearance. Tuck it in a corner and forget about it.

If you forget about it, you don’t have to worry about it because it will automatically turn itself off when the tank is full.

It has the benefit of working quietly, even on the maximum fan setting. It is also UL certified (Underwriter Laboratories) which means it was inspected, tested, and passed standards for safety.

Check for Mold

If you’ve had flooding or a moisture issue, it’s a good idea to check for mold. Some types of vinyl plank flooring have mold and mildew resistance properties. However, even for those special types of vinyl if you have any cause for concern because of a plumbing issue, a leaky kitchen appliance, or flooding it you should check.

You can hire a professional to come in and check for mold, or you can buy your own mold kit and check for yourself. This DIY Mold Test kit comes equipped with a manual for how to collect samples, the supplies necessary, and includes the price of the lab analysis. The only extra cost is that you have to pay for the cost of shipping it to the lab. You get prompt results via email and can call if you have any questions.

Be cautious with mold, and use the customer service provided by the lab for this kit. Some types of mold are relatively harmless and easy to clean up with rubber gloves and bleach and water. Unfortunately, other types of mold are more serious and need to be handled with more care. Some types of mold cannot be cleaned up but instead have to be cut out. Be sure to talk to an expert about proper mold removal for more serious types.

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