Bathroom sink overflowed for about 8 hours and flooded rooms. What now?
July 25, 2017 3:05 PM   Subscribe

I've read previous flooding questions but they don't completely cover the flooring materials and concerns I'm dealing with right now. I could really use some advice.

My bathroom sink overflowed and poured water onto my floors for roughly 10 hours before it was discovered. I immediately bailed and mopped the water.

Three nearby bedrooms are covered in knock-off, self-installed laminate flooring. The floor in the rest of the house is very old tile that was laid over a terrazzo floor at least 20 years ago. The grout is disintegrated in many places and several tiles throughout the house are cracked (replacing the tile has been on the to-do list for when I stumble onto $7 billion).

I can hear squishing under all areas of the laminate flooring in all three bedrooms and also see water at the threshold and where the flooring meets the baseboards. Elsewhere, water is seeping up around and through the cracks in the tile throughout roughly 80 percent of the rest of the house.

There appears to be no damage to baseboards and none whatsoever to the walls.

I live in Florida, it's July, humidity is high.

I'm very worried about mold. My husband believes everything will be fine if we run the ceiling fans and AC to give it a few days to dry up. He owned the house prior to meeting me and has dealt with flooding before (damaged air handler, plumbing issues) across extensive amounts of the house. He says it's dried up just fine in the past after a few days. He says since there's no carpet/padding, etc and the flooring is essentially waterproof, things should resolve themselves shortly.

I'm getting a lot of mixed feedback on the internet about what to do. Most of the sites that suggest we're going to die of mold in the next three hours are water damage specialists so that's why I'm asking for objective opinions here.

I admit I can be a worrier about things like this so I'm all right letting the house dry itself out if that's sounds okay. On the other hand, I'm not sure doing nothing is the right approach.

So, what would you do if your laminate and tile flooring flooded for a few hours?

(By the way, part of me is scared to death that the entire flooring will have to be ripped out and we'll have to move out while it's happening and it will be a bazillion dollars and, and, and. If you've got stories like this with a good outcome, I'm all ears.)
posted by _Mona_ to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
I had a similar flood under cheap laminate, and while the laminate warped a bit, it mostly settled back down and some time with some fans and dehumidifiers seems to have handled it. (This was in Texas, so equally hot but much less humid.) I'm not gonna swear there's no mold on the concrete subfloor, though - I never ripped the flooring up to check.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:34 PM on July 25, 2017

Something similar happened to me last summer. The bathroom tile itself was fine after a mopping, but the restoration company came out and put two dehumidifiers and two big fans in the room beneath the bathroom where the water had dripped. I believe they also sprayed something to prevent mold. The fans ran for two days. My cost was just under a grand.

Now, the hole they had to put in the ceiling to fix the plumbing that caused the flood....that was a little more. But I was told having the hole did help things dry out by getting air flowing between floors.

If the humidity is as high as you say it is, and is consistently high, you might want to call someone and get it truly dried out.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:40 PM on July 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

America became straight up hysterical about mold after Hurricane Katrina. There are hundreds of thousands of types of mold and I 100% guarantee you that you are already living with mold in your home. It is primarily a cosmetic problem and not a health problem; if you get visible mold, it is statistically unlikely to be toxic. (More info) It can be removed by you (try TSP) or a remediation company, which may be covered by your insurance.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:41 PM on July 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I had a major flood under laminate, thanks to a contractor hammering a nail straight through one of the hydroponic baseboard pipes (sigh). In this case, it wasn't immediately obvious that there was a flood, as the water was trickling under the laminate instead of gushing, so it was a couple of days before the problem became evident. The contractor brought over a shop fan for extra power, which I ran for a couple of days, but in this case, the laminate was toast. No mold, however.

When my basement flooded after the sump pump went kaflooey, I did wind up hiring a remediator through my insurance company, as there was drywall & it wasn't clear what was going on behind the scenes. As Nora Charles said, powerful fans and spraying were involved, along with shoring up the built-in wooden shelves and removing affected drywall. I think the remediator charged $3K.

You may want to look into renting a shop fan, if one of the local hardware stores has them available.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:48 PM on July 25, 2017

There are "water damage repair services" that you can hire to run heated fans at high speed to dry everything out as fast as possible and prevent mold. It might be worth calling around to get estimates or general advice.
posted by Violet Blue at 6:00 PM on July 25, 2017

sunbelt or whatever the florida equivalent is rent dehumidifiers and related equipment for pretty reasonable rates.
posted by Dr. Twist at 6:39 PM on July 25, 2017

You can (and I suggest that you do) rent a big dehumidifier or two from,e.g., Home Depot or lowes, and some of the air mover fans, and get it dried out as quickly as you can. I have had a medium-bad basement flood (lawnmower, garden hose, 3 days), and the dehumidifier sucked so much water out of the system for 3-4 days it was amazing. I shopvacced up as much water as I could before that. And then steamed the carpets afterwards with anti mold goo - you can skip that part luckily.
posted by janell at 7:49 PM on July 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you own the house, call your homeowner's insurance company. Not allowing them to be involved in flooding/potential mold situations can void your policy.
posted by quince at 8:18 PM on July 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Your AC will dehumidifier some, but you want more. Big fans to move Lois of air, big dehumidifiers to pull out the moisture. As soon as possible. then you can assess the flooring. Also, mold forms more slowly in moving air.
posted by theora55 at 5:35 AM on July 26, 2017

I would highly recommend filing a claim with your homeowner's insurance. The tile may be okay in the end but the laminate is much more iffy. If water gets under the protective layer of a laminate floor, the stuff it's actually made of (particle board? glued-together sawdust?) can soak up water like a sponge, making the floor swell and warp even aside from molding.

Even if the mold isn't toxic, it may very well SMELL awful and do serious damage to your home's value/quality of life.

We had a hot water heater leak and ended up needing to replace the carpet and padding plus a section of baseboard. We took the opportunity to switch to a laminate floor.

It did take a while and it was a hassle but OMG the new floors are great and both sets of allergies/asthma are improved already.
posted by oblique red at 9:08 AM on July 26, 2017

Also even if you are fine with mold be aware that some people have really bad mold allergies. I had a pretty severe reaction to my parent's basement after their water heater burst while they were on vacation. For twenty years after I couldn't be anywhere near anything that had been in the basement. It would stop my breathing which was .....uncomfortable.

If you own and plan to sell someday mold will be caught by a competent home inspector and can be a major pain to re-mediate mid-sale.
posted by srboisvert at 6:24 AM on July 27, 2017

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