Water damage to laminate flooring is a common occurrence seen by laminate flooring inspectors.. The cause of this damage is often such things as a flood, slow leak from plumbing, improper maintenance and spills. Just about any way you can get water onto many laminate floors seems to result water damage to many of these laminate floors. This is especially true with less expensive DPL products and the water that was not been wiped up immediately. Sometimes this damage is covered under the manufactures warranty. At other times water damage may be covered under home owners insurance and often most water damage is not covered at all. Depending upon the severity of the damage it may be correctable by a plank replacement. At other times a larger portion of,or the entire installation may need to be replaced.
Plumbing and Appliance Leaks
Water damage from plumbing and appliance leaks such as dishwashers, water heaters, washing machines and ice makers can result in buckling of a laminate floor. Often these leaks are very slow and go unnoticed.
Slow leaks are often difficult to identify as they are below the laminate where they penetrate into the laminates core material.
While you may not see the leak an inspector can tell that excess moisture is there by use of a moisture meter.
Severe plumping leaks such as a pipe break or overflowing toilet will usually result in severe water damage including the buckling of a laminate floor.
Water Damage to Laminate Floor From Concrete
Moisture can enter into the back of a laminate floor with the water damage resulting in cupping. An entire floor may cup from a concrete floor that is too wet. This can occur even when a vapor barrier has been used below the laminate floor.
Testing for Moisture
All concrete floors should be tested for moisture prior to installation of the laminate floor covering.
Newly poured concrete should be allowed to cure for at least 60 days prior to installation of the laminate floor.
There are a number of ways to tests for moisture. Many of these such as electronic testing and calcium chloride testing should be performed by companies such as The Weinheimer Group that have the proper training and equipment.
Easy Consumer or Installer Test for Concrete Moisture
Below is a test that can be used inexpensively, without training. This test is acceptable by many laminate flooring manufacturers and will give you a good indication if there is excessive moisture in the concrete that may lead to water damage of your laminate flooring.
- 6 mil polyethylene film
- Duct tape.
- Using duct tape completely seal a 2′ x 2′ section of the polyethylene film down to an area of clean concrete. It is best to do this in several locations where the laminate floor is to be installed. At least one test per 500 square feet.
- After 72 hours remove the plastic. (one week is better)
- If the concrete is dark or wet below the plastic the subfloor is too wet to install a laminate floor.
Water Damage Maintenance and Pet Damage
Spills and improper wet cleaning of a laminate floor can cause water damage in the form of swelling at the laminate joints. This is often seen as puffy areas along the edge of the planks and frequently crosses between plank edges.
The most common cause of edge swelling over a large area is wet mopping or using popular floor cleaning equipment such as but not limited to the Swiffer Wet Jet.
Sometimes it takes a year or two of use before maintenance related issues start to show up. Some floors may never experience noticeable damage by these cleaning methods and others will experience severe damage. Water damage is rarely covered by the laminate manufacturer.
Spills and damage from pet urine are usually localized and show as swelled areas between planks. This is a site related condition and not a laminate floor problem and will almost never covered by a manufacturer warranty.
Sealant Around Laminate Edges
- Some laminate flooring manufacturers require a sealant to be used around objects such as sliding glass doors, kitchen cabinets, water hearers and in other areas prone to leaks and moisture.
- The proper sealant must be used to prevent lock in of the floor.
- The sealant must be properly applied or voids will be left for moisture to enter.
- Failure to use a sealant as specified by the laminate flooring manufacturer can void a warranty.