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 vinyl, remove the baseboard trims and the affected boards using a floor scraper. After, use a wet/dry vacuum or a shop vac to extract the water from the subfloor.

If the planks were glued to the floor, you must replace them because it’s difficult to reinstall glued-down planks after removing them.

Also, if there isn’t a lot of water under, you don’t have to remove the planks. Instead, you can use a dehumidifier or a heater to dry the moisture and re-assemble the planks.

How Does Water Get Underneath The Vinyl Floors?

Water can get through the planks, but it doesn’t happen often. Vinyl planks are designed to be waterproof from bottom to top. This means moisture can’t penetrate them (from the top or bottom). 

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

The multilayered structure of the planks repels moisture because they are covered with plastic waterproof sheeting. However, moisture can get through from the floor’s seams, tongue, and groove locking mechanism, especially if it isn’t sealed. The moisture will seep through the seams of the boards and get underneath them.

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

Moisture can also get through where the planks meet the base of the wall.

Can It Damage The Floor?

Moisture can damage the vinyl if it gets under it. That’s because it will wash off the glue and cause the boards to lose their bond to the subfloor and come off. It can also cause them to lift and separate and cause gaps.

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

If boards are exposed to moisture, they will remain in good condition since they are waterproof. But, the whole floor will start to lift or separate. The planks will lift to accommodate water when it gets underneath them. 

Signs of Moisture

Here are signs that indicate signs of moisture under your floor:

  1. Lifted or Raised Boards – Lifted or raised boards are a major sign that there’s moisture underneath them. Since vinyl planks are waterproof, water can’t penetrate them. So, water will push them upwards to create space.
  2. Damp or Cold Boards – If the boards feel cold, damp, or moist when you walk over, it’s a sign of moisture.
  3. Bubbles or Swelling – If vinyl starts to bubble or swell in the middle, it’s a sign that moisture has gotten underneath them. The bubbles are formed because water pushes the planks upwards. For non-waterproof vinyl, the moisture 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 them properly. The glue weakens if water gets underneath it. The water will wash off the glue and cause the planks to move. 

How To Dry Water Under Vinyl Plank Flooring?

To dry water under your vinyl boards, 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

Remove The Baseboard Trims Around the Vinyl Floor

First, remove the baseboard trim and the fittings around the boards using a chisel or metallic putty knife. Removing the baseboard trim allows you to access the subfloor and test the moisture levels.

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 moisture under the floor. In this case, you must take out a few planks to dry them out. 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 moisture. For instance, remove the planks that are raised or swollen. 

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

3. Extract The Water

Extract The Water

After you remove the affected planks, you must extract the moisture 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 moisture:

  1. Put the nozzle on the floor and turn on the vacuum.
  2. The vacuum will suck all the moisture from the floor. 
  3. When you remove most of it, wait a few minutes for the leftover moisture 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.

4. Turn on The Dehumidifier or Heater

Turn on The Dehumidifier or Heater

After you extract most of the moisture from underneath the floor, turn on the dehumidifier (or a heater) to dry the remaining. 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 boards you removed.

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

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

Can Water Dry itself?

Water underneath your vinyl boards won’t dry itself because it has no way to escape. The water will be trapped between the waterproof underlayment and the boards and won’t be able to dry. However, if there’s little moisture under the floor, it will dry due to evaporation.

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

Since it can’t penetrate the waterproof underlayment or the boards, the water won’t dry itself. If there’s too much water, it can raise the boards too.

However, little moisture underneath vinyl planks will evaporate. You can also use a dehumidifier or a heater to increase the evaporation rate.

Preventing Water from Getting Underneath a Vinyl Floor

Here are some tips to help prevent from getting water damage on your floor:

  1. Always put a waterproof carpet or mat over the floor.
  2. Seal the spaces and gaps between the boards with wood caulk.
  3. Always wipe and clean water spills immediately.
  4. Seal the seams tightly into the floor. 
  5. Always use a waterproof underlayment.
  6. If you use a concrete underlayment, allow the concrete paste to cure fully before putting vinyl boards 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 boards and extracting the water with a vacuum. However, if there’s little moisture under, you can use a heater or dehumidifier to increase the evaporation rate (without removing the planks).

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

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