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Flood Risk and Your Steller Hardwood Flooring

When it comes to planning a flooring project, many homeowners focus solely on aesthetics and cost. However, it's important to also consider the potential risks of flooding, which can cause significant damage to your flooring and lead to costly repairs or replacements. Hardwood floor repair can be expensive and time consuming with traditional floors. In fact, flooring losses due to flooding are among the top three costs in homeowner's insurance claims, highlighting the importance of evaluating your home's flood risk.

Below we also describe how Steller Hardwood floors help you mitigate risks due to flooding by being easy to install without nails or glue, simple to repair DIY or with the help of a pro, and are sealed on all sides to resist changes due to moisture.  

Assessing flood risks in flooring

Homeowners face flood risks from multiple sources, including being located in a high-risk flood zone near a river or beach, the possibility of water entering the home through windows and doors during storms, and issues like burst pipes or malfunctioning home appliances.

Risks to floors in flood-prone areas

When you think about risks to flooring, floods are one of the most dramatic cases. Today, websites are available to help homeowners assess their flood risk and make informed decisions about flooring materials. One such website is "Flood Factor," which provides free evaluations of flood risks for individual properties. By inputting your address, you can access a detailed report that includes information on flood risk level, flood history, and potential flood hazards.

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Flooding can also play a crucial role in a potential buyer's decision-making process when considering a home purchase, particularly in areas prone to storms and flood risks. Therefore, demonstrating that you have taken preventative measures and considered potential risks can add significant value to your property.

Traditional recommendations suggest that if you live in a flood-prone area, traditional hardwood flooring may not be the best choice for your home. Even a small amount of flooding - less than 6 inches - can cause significant damage to traditional, nailed-down hardwoods, leading to expensive repairs and potentially reducing the value of your home in a flood zone.

With a Steller Floor you can enjoy the beauty of a solid hardwood floor with the flexibility of our patented installation system that allows you to act quickly and manage floods and water incursions. Red further below to understand how Steller allows you to anticipate, remove and replace in response to water to reduce exposure to risk. 

Leaky roofs, windows & doors

As the effects of climate change continue to increase the strength of storms worldwide, vulnerabilities in your home's climate envelope including windows, doors, and aging roofs could become more apparent. Even accidentally leaving a window open during a storm can lead to significant water damage if several gallons of water are allowed to seep into walls and subfloor materials--regardless of which flooring material you choose. In these cases, time is of the essence to remove your flooring materials and allow your walls and subfloor to dry, before the risk of mold increases.

Steller Floors are high quality solid hardwood floors that are installed as a floating assembly without nails or glue, which means it can easily be removed or replaced at any time, for any reason--including water incursion from a storm. The ease of use for Steller Floors means that you can DIY or hire any professional to help you manage water-related problems.

Pesky pipes and home appliances

While some homes are built in areas that have risk due to floods or storms, water that flows through pipes, hydronic subfloor heating systems, and appliances is in every home, every day--and it presents a non-zero source of risk. When flooding occurs due to burst pipes or leaky appliances, the effects are often the same as a flood because building materials like drywall and flooring can absorb the moisture and mold growth can start. The most important step after every flood is getting the space dried out again, and most permanently installed flooring can trap moisture underneath. 

With a Steller hardwood floor, you or a local handyperson can remove planks that are exposed to more than a cup of water using a simple suction cup and you can dry underneath the planks and use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture. Considering that regular flooring is permanently affixed, this is a huge advantage because you can dry out your subfloors and areas under baseboards quickly and effectively. 

How to Respond to a Flood when you have a Hardwood Floor

No matter which flooring type you have, stopping the source of the flood is the first major step to managing a flooding issue inside your home. Once you have located the source of the water and you're confident that it has been stopped, then you can turn your attention to removing liquid water as quickly as possible from your home.

To remove liquid water from your home, electric pumps, shop vacs and mops can be the most readily available tools at your disposal. Removing as much water as possible using these tools is the ideal solution, but you can also make substantial progress by using the air in your space to move humidity as well. Reducing the RH (relative humidity) of the air by using a dehumidifier, your A/C, or opening the windows (if the outdoors is drier than your flooded indoor areas) is an easy way to get the air in the room to help you dry out the space.

When will I know if all of the water is dried out?

In our family, everyone has a dehumidifier. That's because it can be one of the most effective tools to help when you have a flood inside the home. It can also tell you when everything is back to normal. The human comfort zone is between 35 and 50% RH and mold growth can start near 60% RH. When you're dehumidifying after a big flood, you'll know you're making progress when your indoor RH is back at 50% or less and the materials no longer feel cool to the touch. Sometimes, unfortunately, this can take weeks or months to achieve if the flood is big enough--so be patient and allow your space to dehumidify as much as possible. 

What I do when there's a flood with a Steller Floor?

Like all hardwood floors, a Steller Floor is not permanently water-proof, it is only water-resistant. In a flood where each plank is exposed to more than 1 cup of water, it is always a great idea to remove the affected planks using the suction cup. If the flood is brand new, you can simply wipe off any excess moisture and set the planks aside while you dry out the subfloor.

If the flood has gone undetected for a while, your hardwood flooring planks may have absorbed some of the moisture and might have started to change shape. In this case it is important to remove the planks using the suction cup and stack them with as much open air accessing each side of the plank as possible (shown in the third panel below). Dehumidify the air around the planks to help encourage them to dry.

In our experience, many of the planks will dry over time (approx. 2 weeks when exposed to 35% RH) and many will return to their original shape and allow you to reinstall them. For those that do not return to an acceptable shape, they can be replaced on a per-plank-basis instead of replacing the whole floor. 

The Benefits of Steller Floors when you build in Flood Preparation

Steller solid hardwood floors offer a flood-ready solution that provides peace of mind. The sealants on all sides of the wood resist changes due to moisture, which allows for a longer response time to leaks or puddles near windows and doors. With easy installation and removal using a suction cup, planks that become wet can be removed, aired out, and re-installed later, reducing losses due to floods.

Pre-emptively removing flooring from at-risk areas near exterior doors is possible with easy removal, and re-installing once the danger has passed. Plus, the cost-savings can be large because simple replacement of damaged planks at the per square foot price instead of replacing or refinishing the entire floor saves homeowners over $3,000 for a 1,000 sqft area with 100 sqft of damage.

Additionally, easy installation and removal reduce materials and labor costs associated with repairs, or homeowners can even move the flooring themselves. So, don't let the fear of a 1 in 100 year flood event dictate your flooring choices - choose Steller Solid Hardwood Flooring for peace of mind and beautiful, long-lasting floors. Contact us today for a quote at 1-800-955-7671.

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