Water Leak and Laminate Floors Cupping

Discussion in 'Hardwood and Laminates Q&A' started by Kcardinal, Dec 19, 2017.

  1. Kcardinal

    Kcardinal Member

    Hi All-

    I recently purchased a new home (I've owned it a month now). I finally moved in December 8th.

    Unfortunately, unknown to us, the dishwasher was installed incorrectly. It was leaking both at the point the drain hose meets the disposal and the point at which the drain hose connects together. Basically, from the whispering between my builder and the plumber it sounds like they never finished installing it, and/or ran into some installation issues (we upgraded the appliances, including the dishwasher that was already in).

    Regardless, when we moved in we ran a ton of dishwasher cycles to clean our stuff after we moved in and then when we cooked. The leak resulted in cupping in the kitchen area and the living room area.

    On the 14th I noticed some cupping and called the builder. He and the plumber came out Monday to look at the issue and we discovered the leaks. The Builder has the flooring folks coming out to replace the damaged flooring under the 1 year warranty that comes with the home.

    A few data points for you guys:

    a) The flooring is laid on a concrete slab
    b) The flooring is a laminate plank, there is no manufacturer name on the box. It is model number LL904 and says countryside collection on the box. What I can piece together from google is that it is Prolex brand.
    c) I'm located in Aberdeen, NC.

    I had a few questions for you guys so I can make sure it is done right.

    1) Should I be worried about mold? I have two young kids in the house (one is 3 weeks old) and obviously mold is bad. I asked the plumber if he thinks the water went under the cabinets and damaged them or could be a source of mold and he said, "uhh I don't think it went under the cabinets far." I asked the builder if we need to remove the cabinets to check it out and he said, no it's concrete, it will be fine.

    2) Should there be some sort of moisture remediation done? Like have servpro come out with fans and stuff?

    3) As far as replacing goes, how much should be replaced? I imagine this black matting under the floors absorbs the water like crazy. So should we tear up the floor until there is no more water? Or only the boards that are cupping? He told them that a 10x10 area needs to be replaced, does that sound right? Does the concrete need to be dry to replace the floors? The builder told me they could get this done in a day (which I imagine is tough to do if the black matting is wet against the concrete).

    4) What should I look for to ensure this was installed correctly? I don't feel any moisture barrier under the black matting, but I guess there could be some under the rest of the floor. There is a thin silver like material near there, but I'm not sure if it goes under the floor or if it is related to the cabinets.

    I put a box fan where the dishwasher goes and ran it overnight and that seems to have dried out the concrete that is exposed in picture 4.

    Thank you guys for any help or advice you can provide.


    1/2/3: Affected areas
    4: What the flooring looked like when we removed the dishwasher yesterday.
    5: What it looks like under the plank where the dishwasher sat
    6/8/9: More pics of the same affected areas

    Attached Files:

  2. epoxyman

    epoxyman Pro Member

    I would keep a eye on the toe kicks on the bottom of the cabinets they could be wet and start swelling up.

    Hope you get it fixed soon and fixed right

  3. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    If any significant part of a room is damaged, all of that room should be replaced. The concrete can contain high levels of moisture even when the surface looks dry. Damage areas need to be removed and the concrete exposed to allow it to dry completely. Moisture tests should be done, even if it is only the "matt test" before any new flooring is installed. There's no way a conscientious flooring professional will say this can be done in a day.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. SteveG

    SteveG Pro Member

    - Depending on the amount of time it was wet and how thoroughly you were able to dry it. Running fans was a good call. You could probably spray a mold growth inhibitor (or even some dilute bleach) in areas where wet laminate was removed.

    If you can get the builder to pay for it, it sure can't hurt. I spent time working with restoration companies and they will do exactly what I mentioned - run fans and then spray some topical anti-mold solution. They have bigger fans than you do, so they could move more air. It's really not a bad idea, but I don't know how easy of a time you'll have convincing the builder to foot the bill.

    Any laminate that shows any indication that it MIGHT have gotten wet needs to be replaced. Like Jim said, if it's the majority of the room they should probably just do the whole thing.

    Let us know how it goes, I hope your builder does right by you.
  5. Kcardinal

    Kcardinal Member

    Thank you all for the feedback. The builder doesn't think it was that much water, but we will see when the flooring people get the laminate back in stock to replace the boards. I feel like more boards are cupping that before but didn't keep a running count before. Hope they can come before Christmas, but we will see how it goes.

    The builder agreed to buy a dehumidifier and told me to run it as much as I want... So picked one up at Lowe's to run until the flooring folks come at which point I guess we will reassess once we see the floors.

    Thank you again for the advice. I feel much better about the process now and more informed for whenever the floors get pulled up. I'm ready to receive more guidance if anyone else wants to chime in! Thanks again.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    This is a new house? Like others have said, it all needs to be ripped out. Even if planks haven’t swelled enough for you to notice, they have swelled enough so that they won’t click together very well with replacement planks. Just replacing some of the floor is a bandaid so your builder can save a few bucks.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. SteveG

    SteveG Pro Member

    An energy star dishwasher uses about 4 gallons of water per cycle. Depending on how many loads you ran it could have been 12-16 gallons of water. Not knowing how bad the leak was, we could be conservative and say a gallon or two on the floor? Maybe more.

    The builder saw it, I didn't.. but if I had 2 gallons of water dumped under my laminate I wouldn't call it "not that much" water.

    The flooring people are in your builder's corner (he's their customer not you) so keep that in mind when they do their assessment.

    Man we're really pessimistic about the character of contractors and builders around here, aren't we?
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    I’ve seen dishwasher damage before and it is never just a few planks. If it didn’t spread very far, that’s because that moisture has been locally absorbed and is waiting to be released back into your new floor. If it’s the drain line leaking, that’s got warm food stuff in it for mold to eat.
  9. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    Seems to me that anyone looking at the photos you uploaded can see that there was a LOT of water on your floor. More than a couple gallons, I'm sure.
  10. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    They’re handling it on the cheap, I use to caulk around the insert of dishwashers, may have under cabinets anyway. If toekicks are removable I’d pull and have a looksy. If not I’d maybe put a scope (Milwaukee makes one) to see internal damage. I’m not a fan of cabinets sitting on floor for this very reason. The base should sit on a waterproof platform.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Kcardinal

    Kcardinal Member

    Thanks everyone, I will keep all the feedback in mind. The flooring people still haven't called me back with an estimate of when the boards will arrive (which according to the group here, won't be enough).

    So any tips on how to approach this? I feel like if I tell him now to replace the whole floor he will say I'm overreacting or say no. Should we see what it looks like when they pull up the floor?

    We definitely ran 9-10 cycles of the dishwasher before we noticed the issue.

    The Toe Kicks are nailed down pretty good. I have the cabinet people coming back to adjust the doors (they touch at the bottom of the cabinet, but not the top). They aren't available until the 3rd of January though. Maybe I should call them back and tell them about the water and see if they can send someone out soon. Maybe I should call my home inspector to get a 2nd opinion?

    The granite is flaking off pretty good and definitely isn't a smooth finish. This is our first home. Tough experience so far.
  12. Kcardinal

    Kcardinal Member

    I got a little frustrated and pulled up the last board in the dish washer area after some trying. This is what it looks like. Is that mold? Definitely smells weird, like wet earth maybe?

    Attached Files:

  13. UncleCliffie

    UncleCliffie Charter Member

    I had an inspection on a laminate floor in a kitchen years ago. The problem was peaking and buckling. I found a leak from the ice maker connection behind the refrigerator. I was able to determine the extent of the problem with my laser temperature gun. I then found a low spot in the floor that was showing very high moisture readings. I could put pressure at that spot, and water squirted up out of the floor.
    As an inspector, I never found out the resolution, but no doubt the entire floor needed replacing.
  14. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    Looks like wet MDF core to me. That's some cheap laminate that should never get wet. Somebody should be removing all of the damaged boards right away, or it will turn to mold.
  15. Kcardinal

    Kcardinal Member

    Jim- Thanks so much for the quick response. Will call the builder and flooring folks again tomorrow. Not sure how much will happen before Christmas...
  16. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Water damage restoration is 24/7, who’s paying is the question. Mold begins to grow quickly, like 24 hours later.
  17. Kcardinal

    Kcardinal Member

    So the flooring place called, they got the ordered boards in last night. They can come out soon, but the person on the phone recommended waiting until after Christmas, because if there were any issues, the floors wouldn't be fixed until then.

    I asked her about the process. She said they'd check the moisture and run some blowers if it was still wet before replacing the floor (which given how the concrete is still wet under the vapor barrier under the location of the dishwasher is likely).

    So what do you guys think? Get it up now with the potential of no floors for Christmas or wait until Thursday next week? Again, have the wife and two kids in the house. I guess we could always try to find an airbnb and move our tree (it's fake and wouldn't be a big deal). Or just stick it out on the concrete floors.
  18. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    I'm not a mold expert, so I can't advise you on when or how much or how critical the exposure could be. Mold needs food and it looks like their food source is the core of your material. If it were my company that would be liable in a situation like this (and I think the one responsible is the one in charge of the dishwasher installation), I would be getting that material off the floor to remove the possibility of mold. It doesn't take the top installation professional to remove some flooring, so they can let those guys concentrate on the holiday rush of installations. But they could send out someone who is competent enough to remove some flooring - enough to where all the moisture is exposed and allowed to dry. Then they can complete the job right after Christmas.

    Since the liability is on the company responsible for the poor dishwasher installation, there's no reason they have to have the wet flooring removed by the same company that will be doing the new installation. Just get the job done so you don't have to worry about any possible mold. If they balk, perhaps a call from your attorney will get the ball rolling (DO NOT threaten them beforehand, just do it as a last resort and without warning).
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    I too would remove to let dry. Like as soon as it was discovered. Zero reason to ever leave wet material in place, it should always be dried immediately following water intrusion.

    Storm on this side (west coast of florida) wife’s friends son 17 year old making 85$ an hour to rip out storm damaged homes, drywall friend was a bit perturbed at those rates they got, verse his replacement quotes.
  20. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    Hope that kid is smart enough to set some money aside for Uncle Sam since I’m sure he won’t have squat for write offs.

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