Water damage to my solid hardwood floors when a pipe broke

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Q: I had water damage to my solid hardwood floors when a pipe broke. My floors are parquet and probably 50 years old. They buckled. I brought in a dehumidifier and the floor actually dried out and is now flat down. Now, they are still cupped and there are some gaps in the floor.

I can’t decide if I need to replace the floor or if the damage could be fixed by refinishing. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!

A: The structural stability of the floor has likely been compromised. A water soluble adhesive was likely used when installed. When the flood occurred the adhesive softened and the floor buckled. It has gone flat since, but how well has it bonded to the adhesive? I would suspect the entire floor or large parts of it are now or will become loose.

I would probably consider the floor lost. Somebody is going to have to sand it to get it really flat again and all these pieces/slats are going to start popping loose.

Follow-up Q: Thanks for your reply! The floor was put down in the 1950’s using a black, tar like adhesive. The adhesive appears to have come loose in the part of the floor most affected.

The problem is, only about 20% of the floor was affected and the rest is still in pretty good shape. They don’t make the floor anymore so I guess I am looking at total replacement. I hate the thought of all that good wood going in the landfill!

A: Is this parquet block? Tongue and groove, possibly 3/4 thick? Have your floor guy put his moisture meter on the floor. If it is stable, it can be sanded over. If these are blocks and some are damaged you may be able to make your own from 2 1/4 wide strip.

Related Q: I have tongue and groove, soft pine flooring. I had a water leak on a section of the floor. The floor did get wet, and after using the shop vac to get the water up the floor starting drying and started producing a cracking sound. Now several of the floor boards have risen up along were they come together. What can I do to repair them, short of replacing them?

A: I would leave it for a month and see if it drops back down on it’s own. If not, it will have to be sanded flat.

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