Mold worries after leaky toilet

Q: I had a master bedroom toilet leak and it caused a lot of damage to the carpets, door jams, baseboards, etc. It also got under my expensive, hand scraped hickory (4 years old) installed engineered wood floors. They are glued down on a concrete slab. The water damage experts said that there was still moisture under wood floors in the hallway and part of the living room. The floors show no signs of buckling or color distortion. My contractor said the installer did a great job installing them. I am concerned about mold.

Do you think I need to rip up the flooring and install new flooring? Or, if left undisturbed, are they okay as is? Will the concrete eventually dry out? I was told that if they are left undisturbed, mold will not cause health issues. Once it is disturbed by ripping up boards, then the mold can become airborne and can cause major health issues. Is this true?

A: If this was a floor installed on a raised sub floor then I would recommend ripping everything out because a large amount of water can seep and stay under there for a long time and take quite a long time to dry out. In your case, the floor is installed directly on the concrete with no space. I think the amount of water under there is minuscule and will transfer through the structure and evaporate. Keep in mind most needs a certain environment to grow. That would be warm and moist. If you have gone through this with no apparent damage to your hand scraped hickory, I’d sit down and enjoy a pint or glass of wine in my favorite chair and breath a sigh of relief.

Related Q: I live in a co-op in NYC. The AC unit (which is attached to wall, and also serves as heat in winter) leaked under my parquet floors. We were away for the weekend and did not notice the water until Monday when it had bubbled up to soak the area rug. How concerned should I be for mold (I have an infant in the apt)? And what are the best measures for fixing the issue? The floor is no longer level and now has ridges.

A: I don’t know the design of your parquet. For example, how thick it is and if it is tongue and groove. It sounds like it has swollen a bit from the water. If it does nothing more, such as to buckle, I would just leave it be.

Mold needs a constantly damp or wet and warm environment to grow. I don’t think you have any worries unless it keeps leaking.

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