Following a burst pipe, is soaked flooring salvageable?
March 27, 2014 1:13 PM   Subscribe

So the hot water pipe leading to our kitchen sink in our house burst during the night and I came down to find our kitchen, bathroom & half our livng room under 2 inches of warm water. Now everything is tidied but the floor material - vinyl - is damp on the underside. What to do? Damp slushy snowflakes inside.

The vinyl was put down by the previous owner on top of tiles & badly-done concrete. It doesn't go all the way to the wall because it post-dates the nailed-down kitchen cupboards, sink installation etc., and this is why I'm pretty sure there's water under most of it, and under the cupboards. Every corner of vinyl that I've pulled up has been damp underneath. The house is already damp (pre-WWI: no damp-proof course).

On the other side: pulling up all the vinyl would be hugely disruptive so I don't want to do it if I don't have to.

I'm putting a dehumidifier on every night and I've turned the heating up, but is this enough? I don't think air can circulate under the vinyl as easily as the water did. Should we take up the vinyl right now to let the tiles & concrete dry up before putting in new floor material? I'm worried that if we wait and see if it dries, then mould will grow in the places we can reach and can't, at which point we will have to do everything Very Quickly what with there being children in the house.

If you've been in a similar situation I'd love to know how you handled it.
posted by ianso to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In the US, the recommendation is usually to contact your home insurance company immediately as this sort of water leak can cause major problems if it's not dealt with correctly. The insurance company will want to be involved in remediation. If you ever want to sell the house and there are signs of water damage and no insurance records that demonstrate correct remediation and mold-prevention occurred, it could impact how much your home actually sells for. The insurance company can send over industrial grade fans and dehumidifiers to get rid of the moisture quickly. I noticed your profile says you're in Belgium, so I'm not sure if the same applies, but it would be worth checking.
posted by quince at 1:24 PM on March 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: When this happened at my place, it was carpet, not vinyl, that was wet. They took the carpet up from the floor by slashing it with a carpet knife, and slid several heavy duty drying fans, which have apertures that are made for this, under the carpet. These ran for about 3 days.
posted by thelonius at 1:38 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We just went through this.

1. Call your insurance company IMMEDIATELY.
2. They should put you in contact with a water-remediation company. Get them out quickly.
3. Do everything your insurance company tells you. Call your rep before doing anything or paying anyone.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:54 PM on March 27, 2014

Best answer: Run fans. I had water in the basement this year (long, boring story), kept the heat at 72, ran a couple of box fans and the dehumidifier, and I think everything's dried out okay, though there may be some water damage I haven't found yet. The only mildew was in rugs that I got out of the house fast before they caused too much trouble.
posted by theora55 at 1:55 PM on March 27, 2014

Best answer: Umpteenthing that you call your insurance pronto, before you do anything else.

The vinyl is toast. It's going to have to come up simply to make sure the floors dry-out and there's no water trapped that could eventually lead to mold/mildew. Similarly, the cabinets are going to have to come out, so that the walls behind them can be checked. I assume your walls are regular sheetrock? If water got to the walls, then the sheetrock is probably toast, too.

I'm sorry this happened to you.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:03 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the responses, I think on balance I'll follow your collective advice and phone the insurance company ASAP. Thorzdad, the walls are plaster over brick walls or concrete.
posted by ianso at 2:11 PM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

The vinyl needs to come up and you want to get the floor underneath (and any wet areas at base of walls, cabinets, furniture) dried out as quickly as possible. The good news is you know when the moisture started. You want everything to be dry within 48 hours (preferably much quicker) to avoid mold growth. This will mean opening up any concealed areas water may have penetrated, removing any water resistant materials like that vinyl and moving as much warm air through the space as possible as quickly as possible.
posted by meinvt at 4:17 PM on March 27, 2014

Might be worthwhile checking with your neighbors to see whether this happened to them (or whether their water heaters leaked) because during run-off season utilities are often careless and allow water pressures to spike (higher water levels in storage mean higher pressures in gravity-fed systems), and if so, you conceivably could get the utility to cover deductibles.

You should also check the pressure relief valve on your water heater even if the pipe that burst is corroded, but especially if it isn't, very.
posted by jamjam at 8:52 PM on March 27, 2014

I used to work for a house disaster remediation company, but YMMV etc. I would agree that calling your insurance company ASAP is a good idea. Without further details I would say that your vinyl will need to come up and possibly your plaster depending on how far the water went. You want to make sure that your restoration company dries everything out ASAP before mold can start to form. Good luck!
posted by snowysoul at 9:51 PM on March 27, 2014

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