Nothing damages your vinyl flooring quicker than water. So how do you dry water under vinyl plank flooring?
To dry water underneath a vinyl plank flooring, you need to first remove the baseboard trims around the base walls. Then use a floor scraper to lift and remove a few of the affected vinyl planks. After, use a wet/dry vacuum or a shop vac to extract the water from underneath the vinyl floor.
If the vinyl planks were glued to the floor, you’ll have to replace the planks that you removed. That’s because it’s difficult to reinstall glued-down vinyl planks after removing them.
Also, if the water under the vinyl floor isn’t much, you don’t have to remove the planks. In this case, you can use a dehumidifier or heater to dry the floor.
Can Water Get Through Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Water can get through vinyl plank flooring but it is rare for this to happen. This is because plank vinyl is usually designed to be waterproof from top to bottom. What this means is that water can’t penetrate the vinyl floor from the top of the planks.
However, water can still through a vinyl plank flooring through the seams and the tongue and groove locking mechanism especially if the seams of the vinyl planks aren’t sealed.
Vinyl plank flooring is one of the sturdiest and most moisture-resistant floors. The vinyl planks are designed by compressing several layers of wood fibers, recycled wood plastic, and vinyl resins together giving the vinyl planks a very rigid fiberboard core.
The multilayered structure of the vinyl planks makes it very difficult for the planks to be penetrated by water but that’s not all. The planks are also covered with plastic waterproof sheeting making it impossible for water to get through the planks.
However, water can still get through the vinyl plank flooring. This is possible when water seeps through the seams of the vinyl plank flooring to get through the vinyl plank floor. This happens when the seams of the vinyl plank floor aren’t sealed in place.
Water can also get through the vinyl plank flooring through the tongue and groove locking mechanism of the planks if you don’t click the locks properly in place. If the locks don’t click in place, there will be tiny gaps between the planks that water can get through. Also, water can get through the vinyl floor where the planks meet the base of the wall.
Does Water Damage Vinyl Flooring?
Water does damage vinyl flooring especially when water is allowed to get underneath the vinyl floor either through the seams, the locking mechanism or through a leak underneath the subfloor.
When water gets underneath the vinyl floor, it can wash off the glue underneath the planks causing the planks to lose bond to the subfloor and come off. Water can also cause the planks to lift and separate causing gaps in your flooring. You should know that water doesn’t damage the vinyl planks directly. Instead, water will cause issues with the floor such as lifting, buckling, and raised planks.
As explained earlier, vinyl planks are waterproof so even if the planks are exposed to water, they won’t suffer any significant damage. The damage that occurs to the vinyl flooring from water exposure affects the floor as a whole and not the planks.
When your vinyl floor is exposed to water, the planks will most likely remain in good condition since they are waterproof but the floor will suffer damage. One major damage that vinyl floors suffer from exposure to water is lifting especially when the water gets underneath the floor. When water gets under the vinyl floor, the planks will lift to accommodate water.
Water can also wash off the glue underneath the glued-down vinyl flooring making the planks lose bond to the surface and separate creating gaps in the floor. Again, the planks aren’t damaged but the water underneath put stress on the locks making them loose and creating gaps in your vinyl floor. Asides from gaps in the floor, water underneath your vinyl floor can also cause mold to grow.
Signs of Moisture Under Vinyl Plank Flooring
Here are signs that indicate that water is underneath your vinyl floor:
Lifted or Raised Vinyl Planks
A major sign of water underneath your vinyl floor is lifted or raised planks. This is when some of the vinyl planks become raised at the edges or when the floor gets uneven.
The reason for this is that the vinyl planks are waterproof so the water underneath can’t be absorbed by the planks. Instead, the water will push the planks upwards to create space.
When the Planks Feel Damp or Cold
When you walk over your vinyl floor and the floor feels very cold, damp, or moist, it’s a sign that there is moisture underneath the vinyl floor.
Bubbles or Swelling in the Middle of the Vinyl Floor
When you start to notice the vinyl floor bubbling or swelling especially in the middle of the floor, it’s a sign that water has gotten underneath the vinyl flooring.
The bubbles are formed because the vinyl floor has absorbed water so the wood fibers have to expand to accommodate the water causing the swollen or bubbling appearance.
You should know that this sign is common with regular and non-waterproof vinyl floors like sheet vinyl. With waterproof vinyl, the planks will become raised because the planks will not absorb the water.
Mold will grow anywhere there is water. So, when you start to notice mold growth around the vinyl floor, it means that there is water underneath the floor making mildew thrive and grow.
When you notice that the glue underneath the vinyl floor isn’t holding the planks to the floor anymore, it means that water has gotten under the vinyl floor and washed off the glue. Also, if you notice the vinyl seams becoming loose or opened, it means that there is water under the floor.
Now that you know how to spot water underneath your vinyl flooring, let’s find out how to dry the water.
How To Dry Water Under Vinyl Plank Flooring?
To dry water under your vinyl plank flooring, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:
- A shop vac or wet/dry vacuum
- A mop
- A floor scraper
- Moisture meter
- Caulk and caulking gun
- Vinyl adhesive or glue
- A chisel
- Rubber mallet
- A pair of work gloves
Here is a 5-step guide to drying out the water underneath your vinyl flooring:
1. Remove The Baseboard Trims Around the Vinyl Floor
The first step is to remove the baseboard trim and fittings around the vinyl floor by using a chisel or metallic putty knife. This step is important as it allows you to gain access to the vinyl floor.
Removing the trims also allows you to test the moisture levels underneath the vinyl floor with a moisture meter.
If the moisture meter displays a reading of more than 10%, it means there is too much water under the vinyl floor. If that’s the case, you’ll have to take out a few planks to dry out the water.
2. Uninstall a Few Vinyl Planks
The next step is to uninstall a few vinyl planks from the floor. You should uninstall the planks that appear to have the most signs from the water.
For instance, if some of the planks are raised or swollen, those are the planks you should uninstall. That’s because the raised planks mean that part of the flooring is where there is mostly water.
You should know that glued-down vinyl planks will be a bit difficult to remove as these planks have bonded to the underlayment or subfloor. So you might need to hire a professional to help you take out these planks.
However, if the vinyl planks were just clicked and locked in place, then you can remove them yourself by simply pulling the planks out with a floor scraper.
3. Extract The Water
After taking out a few vinyl planks, you need to extract the water from underneath the floor using a shop vac or wet/dry vacuum. Both of these apparatus have long hoses and a nozzle that you can put directly underneath the floor right where you removed the planks.
After putting the nozzle on the floor, turn on the shop van or vacuum and allow the water to be extracted. This will take a few seconds or a few minutes depending on the amount of water under the vinyl flooring.
When you have extracted the water from under the vinyl floor, use your moisture meter to test the moisture levels. The reading should be lower than 1%. If the moisture meter reads more than 1%, you’ll need to extract more water.
4. Turn on The Dehumidifier or Heater
After extracting the water from underneath the vinyl floor, you should turn on the dehumidifier or heater to dry out any remaining water underneath or around the vinyl floor. You should leave the dehumidifier or heater on for a few hours or overnight.
5. Reinstall or Replace The Vinyl Planks
When the vinyl flooring is completely dry, you can reinstall or replace the planks that you removed. Click-on vinyl planks can be dried out and replaced since the planks will be in good condition.
For glued-down vinyl planks, you might have to replace the planks because they would have suffered cracks and other damages while removing them. If you reinstall a cracked glue-down vinyl plank, you would be leaving the door open for water to get vinyl underneath the floor again.
After reinstalling or replacing the planks, ensure to fix them correctly. Then seal gaps and spaces in the floor with a caulking compound to prevent water from getting under the vinyl floor again.
Can Water Under Vinyl Plank Dry Itself?
Water underneath your vinyl plank flooring will not dry itself because the water has no way to escape. The water under the vinyl flooring will be trapped between the waterproof underlayment and the vinyl planks.
To dry water underneath your vinyl flooring, you’ll have to do so manually. However, if the water under the floor is very little, then it can dry out over time due to evaporation. But, if the water is much, it won’t dry itself.
Before a vinyl plank flooring is installed, a waterproof underlayment is usually put on the subfloor. Then, the vinyl planks which are usually waterproof are installed directly on the underlayment. So, if water gets underneath the vinyl floor either through the locks or through the tiny gaps in the floor, the water will become trapped between a waterproof underlayment and the vinyl planks meaning that there is no way out. Since there is no way out, this means that the water under your vinyl floor will not dry itself.
However, if there is just a little water underneath the floor, it might evaporate over time or you can get rid of it by using a dehumidifier or heater to evaporate water from under the floor. In this case, you won’t have to do much since the water is small. A heater will take care of it. However, if the water is much such as during a leak or flood, a heater or dehumidifier will not dry it. In this case, you’ll have to extract the water manually.
How To Prevent Water From Getting Underneath a Vinyl Floor?
Here are some expert tips to help prevent water from getting underneath your vinyl flooring:
- Always put a waterproof carpet or floor mat over the vinyl floor
- Ensure to seal the spaces and gaps in the vinyl flooring with wood caulk
- Always wipe and clean water spills immediately you notice it
- Ensure that the seams on the vinyl floor are sealed tightly in place
- Always use a waterproof underlayment beneath the vinyl floor to shield the floor from leaks and flood
- If you use a concrete underlayment, ensure to allow the concrete paste to cure fully before putting vinyl planks over it
- Always use waterproof vinyl floors like luxury vinyl flooring as this type of vinyl floor will repel moisture.
In summary, water underneath your vinyl flooring shouldn’t be taken lightly as it can easily damage the floor by causing different issues including mold growth beneath your flooring.
To know if you have water beneath the floor, feel the vinyl planks and if the planks are cold or moist, it means there is water underneath the floor that you need to extract.
You can do this by using a shop vac or a wet/dry vacuum. Also, remember to take the needed precautions to protect your vinyl floor from water damage.