Do wet floors and baseboards always have to come up?
August 4, 2022 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Water got into a basement room. Is it a given that the baseboards and floor have to come up, or can we prevent that by acting fast?

During heavy rain this morning some water got into a bedroom and bathroom in our basement. As soon as we noticed we fixed the problem (standing water outside) and mopped up the water inside. It was definitely standing for less than 4 hours based on when someone was last in that room vs when we soaked it up. The water was less than 1 centimeter deep. We immediately set up 5 fans and a residential humidifier in those rooms.

A water remediation company came by today and says we have to tear out any baseboards that show signs of water, as well as the entire vinyl plank floor that we put down last year and possibly some drywall. They say the floor has to go because it's on a plastic sheet (unsure if we could leave it if it were on bare concrete). I'm surprised - I thought they were going to bring in a dehumidifier so we wouldn't have to rip things up.

So is it a given that vinyl flooring, baseboards, and possibly drywall that got we always have to be torn out? Or is there a chance we dried them out quickly enough to not need that?

On a related note, more than 1 person has said that mold behind drywall is fine, like asbestos: it's fine if you don't disturb it. Is that really the case?
posted by Tehhund to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a bit surprised by the floor recommendation, since vinyl flooring is supposed to be waterproof. This reference suggests that you might need to (temporarily) lift the flooring up though before any standing water trapped below will completely dry.

Baseboards (if they're MDF) and drywall are definitely not waterproof, and will have suffered damage. And unlike they type of asbestos you can ignore, mold spores are always "friable" and looking for a way to float into the air column. I wouldn't hesitate to remove any you find (but I'm not an expert).
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:50 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]

What’s under the vinyl? Some vinyl is totally waterproof. If it’s on concrete, it should be ok. If it’s on plywood, sadly, plywood is not waterproof so it would probably have to come up or it will warp.

Mold needs persistent water to survive so a one time wet isn’t the end of the world for mold - a bit may grow, but if the surface dries out again, it will just go dormant (and come back stronger next time it gets wet). If the surface isn’t too damaged, you could spray it with a product like concrobium to encapsulate the spores, then paint it.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:05 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: There's a sheet of plastic under the LVP, I guess it's a moisture barrier? We can see the plastic sheet sticking out just a bit in places where the planks end.
posted by Tehhund at 6:27 PM on August 4

Yes, if you call a water remediation company they will always recommend tearing everything out, because by calling them you basically make them liable in terms of warranties for the work they are doing, and they work closely with insurance companies, so get the report and provide that to your insurance company to cover some of the costs.

if it was a minor amount of water and you didn't want to rip everything out, then you could have rented some dehumidifiers and fans. Water remediation for minor issues, especially if you are able to remediate them quickly, is not necessarily a big deal.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:37 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

BTW, I'd call 1cm of water minor. A bit more than that is a judgement call - 2x-3x as much probably needs professional remediation.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:39 AM on August 5

Response by poster: Thanks. It was definitely 1 centimeter or less, I'm very sure about that. And we definitely cleaned up the standing water in less than 4 hours after it started. And we've been running fans and a dehumidifier for 2 days. The contractor who finished our basement is going to come give us some free advice this afternoon, but right now I'm leaning towards keeping the fans and dehumidifier running for a couple more days and in a couple weeks get an air quality test.
posted by Tehhund at 9:57 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

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