How To Dry Water Under Vinyl Plank Flooring? (5-Steps)

Nothing damages your vinyl flooring quicker than water. So how to dry water under vinyl plank flooring?

To dry water underneath a vinyl plank flooring, remove the baseboard trims and the affected vinyl planks using a floor scraper. 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 must replace the planks that you removed. That’s because it’s difficult to reinstall glued-down vinyl planks after removing them.

Also, if there isn’t a lot of water under the vinyl floor, you don’t have to remove the planks. Instead, you can use a dehumidifier or a heater to dry the water under the floor.

How Does Water Get Underneath The Vinyl Floors?

Water can get through the vinyl planks flooring, but it doesn’t happen often. Vinyl plank flooring is designed to be waterproof from bottom to top. This means water can’t penetrate the vinyl flooring (from the top or bottom). 

Vinyl floors are the most water/moisture resistant floors on the market. A vinyl floor is designed by compressing several layers of wood fibers, recycled wood plastic, and vinyl resins. The combination of these gives the vinyl planks a rigid (hard) fiberboard core.

The multilayered structure of vinyl planks repels any moisture, including water. That’s because vinyl planks are covered with plastic waterproof sheeting.

However, water can get through vinyl flooring from the floor’s seams, tongue, and groove locking mechanism, especially if the floor isn’t sealed. The water will seep through the seams of the vinyl planks and get underneath the floor.

Also, if you don’t click the locks of the vinyl floor properly, the water will get through the tongue and groove locking mechanism. If the lock doesn’t click, there will be a small gap between the planks, and water will get through that gap. 

Also, water can get through the vinyl floor where the planks meet the base of the wall.

Water Can Damage Vinyl Flooring

Water can damage the vinyl flooring if it gets under the floor. That’s because water will wash off the glue of the vinyl floor and cause the planks to lose their bond to the subfloor and come off. Water can also cause the vinyl floors to lift and separate, causing gaps in your flooring.

So, water won’t damage the vinyl planks directly because vinyl planks are waterproof. Instead, it causes issues with the floor, such as lifting, buckling, and raised planks. So, water will affect the floor as a whole and not the planks. 

Even if vinyl planks are exposed to water, the planks will remain in good condition since they are waterproof. But, the whole floor will start to lift or separate. The planks lift to accommodate water when water gets under the vinyl floor. Water can also cause mold to grow under the vinyl planks. So, removing water under the planks is important, even if it doesn’t affect the vinyl planks.

Signs of Moisture Under Vinyl Plank Flooring

Here are signs that indicate that water is underneath your vinyl floor:

  1. Lifted or Raised Vinyl Planks – Lifted or raised vinyl planks are a major sign of water underneath the vinyl floor. Since vinyl planks are waterproof, water can’t penetrate them. So, water will push the vinyl planks upwards to create space.
  2. Vinyl Planks Feel Damp or Cold – If the vinyl planks feel cold, damp, or moist when you walk over, it’s a sign of moisture under the vinyl flooring.
  3. Bubbles or Swelling in the Middle of the Vinyl Floor – If vinyl flooring starts to bubble or swell in the middle, it’s a sign that water has gotten underneath the vinyl planks. The bubbles in the vinyl floor are formed because water pushes the planks upwards. For non-waterproof vinyl floors, the water will penetrate the wood fibers and expand the planking to accommodate the water causing a swollen or bubbling appearance.
  4. Weak Glue – If the vinyl planks move while walking over, it means the glue isn’t holding the planks properly. The vinyl plank glue weakens if water gets underneath it. The water will wash off the glue and cause the vinyl planks to move. 

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

1. Remove The Baseboard Trims Around the Vinyl Floor

Remove The Baseboard Trims Around the Vinyl Floor

First, remove the baseboard trim and the fittings around the vinyl floors using a chisel or metallic putty knife. Removing the baseboard trim allows you to access the vinyl floor and test the moisture levels underneath the floor without removing the planks.

To test the moisture levels, use 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. In this case, you must take out a few planks to dry out the water. If the moisture level is less than 5%, use a dehumidifier or heater to dry the water (without removing the planks).

2. Uninstall a Few Vinyl Planks

Uninstall a Few Vinyl Planks

Uninstall (remove) planks that appear to have the most signs of water. For instance, remove the planks that are raised or swollen. That’s because if a vinyl plank is raised, it means there’s water underneath it.

Removing glued-down vinyl planks is difficult because these planks have bonded to the underlayment or subfloor. But you can remove normal vinyl planks by pulling up the planks with a floor scraper.

3. Extract The Water

Extract The Water

After you remove the affected vinyl planks, you must extract the water from underneath the flooring using a shop vac or dry vacuum. These cleaners have a long hose and nozzle that you can put directly underneath the floor and remove the water. 

To remove water underneath the floor using a dry vacuum:

  1. Put the nozzle on the floor (on top of the water), and turn on the vacuum.
  2. The vacuum will suck all the water from the floor. 
  3. When you remove most of the water, wait a few minutes for the leftover water to evaporate. 
  4. Use a moisture meter to test the moisture levels. 
  5. If the moisture levels are higher than 1%, you must extract more water. 

4. Turn on The Dehumidifier or Heater

Turn on The Dehumidifier or Heater

After you extract most of the water from underneath the floor, turn on the dehumidifier (or a heater) to dry the remaining water. You must leave the dehumidifier or heat on for a few hours or overnight. 

5. Reinstall or Replace The Vinyl Planks

Reinstall or Replace The Vinyl Planks

After a few hours, use a moisture meter to measure the moisture levels underneath the floor. If the moisture levels are 0%, you can re-install the vinyl planks you removed.

The vinyl planks must be dry or un-affected before re-installing. For example, if the vinyl planks are swollen or bubbled, you must replace them with new ones. Also, if the vinyl planks were glued-down to the subfloor, you must replace them with new planks because the glue is washed off and won’t stick. However, if the vinyl planks are unaffected, you can re-install the old ones.

After re-installing planks, fix them correctly and seal the haps and spaces on the floor using a caulking compound. This prevents the water from getting underneath the vinyl floor again. 

Water Doesn’t Dry Itself Under Vinyl Planks

Water underneath your vinyl plank flooring won’t dry itself because the water has no way to escape. The water under lvp flooring will be trapped between the waterproof underlayment and the vinyl planks. However, if there’s little water under the floor, it will dry due to evaporation. But, if the water is much, you must manually dry it.

Before installing vinyl floors, you must install a waterproof underlayment on the subfloor. Then, you must install the waterproof vinyl planks over the waterproof underlayment. So, if the water gets to the underlayment (through the locks or tiny gaps), the water will be trapped between the waterproof vinyl planks and the underlayment. 

Since water can’t penetrate the waterproof underlayment or vinyl plank, the water won’t dry itself. If there’s too much water, water can raise the vinyl planks. However, little water underneath vinyl planks will evaporate. You can also use a dehumidifier or a heater to increase the evaporation rate (for small amount of water only).

Preventing Water from Getting Underneath a Vinyl Floor

Here are some tips to help prevent from getting water damage under the vinyl floor:

  1. Always put a waterproof carpet or floor mat over the vinyl floor.
  2. Seal the spaces and gaps in the vinyl flooring with wood caulk.
  3. Always wipe and clean water spills immediately.
  4. Seal the vinyl floor seams tightly into the floor. 
  5. Always use a waterproof underlayment beneath the vinyl floor to shield the floor from leaks.
  6. If you use a concrete underlayment, allow the concrete paste to cure fully before putting vinyl planks over it
  7. Always use waterproof vinyl floors like luxury vinyl flooring, as this type of floor will repel moisture.

Final Words

You can dry water under vinyl flooring by removing the vinyl planks and extracting the water with a vacuum. However, if there’s little water under vinyl flooring, you can use a heater or dehumidifier to increase the evaporation rate (without removing the planks).

You must remove water underneath vinyl flooring as it can cause the vinyl planks to raise, separate, or bubble. 

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