A household plumbing malfunction that causes even the slightest flooding has the potential to ruin hardwood floors. Quick action on your part may be what saves your plumbing fixtures and hardwood floors from complete ruin.
Take Action Quickly
If you experience a flood from an overflowing toilet, sink, tub, or washing machine you want to act quickly. Turn off the water source to the fixture, and then turn off your main water supply to the house.
It may be tempting to start cleaning up the water, and while that is critical, you need to get a plumber on their way over too. Call the plumber and let them get a jump on the situation so you will have your water back up and working as soon as possible.
If necessary, use a bucket or some other container to bail water that is sitting in your overflowing fixture. You don't want any further overflow to occur while you are cleaning up.
Dealing with Your Hardwood Flooring
Once you have your water supply off and a plumber on the way, it's time to start cleaning up and accessing the damage to your floor.
The first thing you want to do is get rid of any standing water. Use a wet vac if possible; if not use a mop to pick up as much of the water as possible. Towels can also be used to soak up excess water.
Once you have the standing water up, your floors will still be wet. The goal is to get them dry as soon as possible. This can be done with the use of fans and dehumidifiers on their highest settings. Use extreme caution when using electric aids near water; be sure to keep them off wet areas. If it is warm and dry outside you may want to open windows. If the weather is damp, you will be better off running the heat or air conditioning.
Check to see if any water has seeped through to the subflooring or into the basement. Take necessary steps to remove and dry any seepage.
Once your floor is thoroughly dry, you will be able to check for damage. Wood that is warped may need to be replaced. Stained wood will probably need to be refinished. Very importantly, look for mold. If you see any black or very dark spots, this could indicate mold or mildew. These spots will be much easier to clean if done right away. Mold and mildew that hasn't soaked into the wood should come up with a solution of water and mild detergent. Mold or mildew that is ingrained into the wood will require special procedures that you may be able to do on your own, or may want to contact someone who does wood floor repairs.
The sooner you act on the situation, the better your outcome will be. Talk to a plumber for assistance.