How to Dry Water Leaks on Hardwood Floors


Wood floors and water do not mix well. You shouldn’t even clean wood floors with water unless absolutely necessary and even then it’s important to wipe the moisture off the floor. So if you have too much humidity in your house or a pipe bursts, you need to make every effort to clean up the wet wood floors before there is serious water damage. If your floors get wet while you’re away from home, there are things you can do to repair water damage that allow you to restore the beauty of the wood floor.

Things You'll Need

  • Fans
  • Electronic moisture meter
  • Remove the source of the water before you make repairs. Too much humidity in a room can cause floors to buckle. Unless you install a dehumidifier, the problem is going to continue. Once you regulate the air quality, you can dry the water from the flooring. The same is true of leaks. If a pipe is leaking water onto the floor, repair it first, and then fix the floor.

  • Use fans to help dry the wood as quickly as possible. If the water sets too long on the wood, it not only causes wood damage but it also allows mold to grow. Run the air conditioning if at all possible to assist with drying the wood. Open windows to allow dryer air into the house if air conditioning isn’t an option.

  • Check the subflooring to see how wet it is. You can go into the basement or crawl space of your house to see if the water soaked all the way through the wood floor and into the subflooring. If it did, proceed to dry out the subflooring as quickly as possible with fans as well.

  • Determine the moisture content of the wood floor with an electronic moisture meter. Measure the wood’s equilibrium moisture content (EMC) at the site of the flooding and at a dry site. This tells you how much moisture needs to come out of the wood for it to be dry again.

  • Remove two rows of wood flooring from the center of the room. This allows the fans to circulate air underneath the wood flooring and to air dry the subflooring. It also helps prevent the boards from buckling from too much pressure. Replace the boards when the flooring reaches a normal EMC reading again. This may take several months.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not attempt to re-sand and refinish the wood floor until the moisture dries out of the wood.

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  • Photo Credit wood image by Zbigniew Nowak from
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