Saltwater tank damaged floor

Q: My boyfriend had a saltwater tank (top-up) in the room above his large marine fish tank, for over a decade. The pine wood floor boards underneath this top-up tank were covered by carpet only. Now that the top-up tank and carpet has been removed, the pine floor boards are stained and constantly damp to the touch. The pattern of this staining and dampness seems to be only in the area of the top-up tank and is worse at the edges of the floor boards with islands of little or no damage at the centre of the boards.

Could this damage be due to years of low level salt water spillage and therefore salt build-up in the wood, with the salt in the wood now absorbing moisture from air in the room making the floor boards constantly damp? What should we do about this flooring? I would appreciate your thoughts, we are a little baffled.

A: Wood normally absorbs air moisture and releases it. It sounds like there has been long standing leaking in this area with the water seeping between the boards. The sub floor may be soaked. I would love to put a moisture meter on the area. I bet it blows off the scale. Probably the best thing you can do is remove the section carefully. This will allow the structure beneath the floor to dry. It will also allow the pine to dry. If it isn’t too badly stained or damaged, you may elect to put the pine back in place when you know everything is dry. Or replace with new, but it will be impossible to get a colour match.

Related Q: Hello! Found your website on a google search. We came home to our 75 gallon fish tank leaking. It was about half way empty, so we are assuming around 30 gallons of water went somewhere. We cleaned up what was on the floor but it was no where near 30 gallons. We have a crawl space, but haven’t gone under the house yet to see if it leaked through there. We have a fan on the area where there was standing water (about a four foot area up against an interior wall) but what else can we do? I read through your Q&A and understand that we should get a dehumidifier as well. Any other thoughts or suggestions?

A: At this point all you can do is try and dry it out as quickly as possible an wait to see how it affects the floor. I don’t know of any magic wand for something like this.

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