Repairing a subfloor after a flood?


Old 01-18-01, 10:44 AM
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My plumber just repaired a burst pipe under my house that had totally soaked through the floor in my dining room. After removing my furniture and lifting a very soppy carpet and pad, I could see standing water covering the floor in a 7 foot by 6 foot area. I'm wondering about letting the floor (3/4" particle board) to completely dry out before replacing new carpet. (The pipe must have been broken for several weeks before discovery) How long might this drying process take?

The plumber said it would be best to cut all the flooring out and to replace with 1/2"-3/4" plywood and then re-carpet in case the old flooring decided to buckle and warp after the flood. Since this has to be a do-it-yourself project, I'm a bit afraid of trying to cut into the floor, not knowing where the floor joists are or which direction they run. I don't want to crawl under the house to check the structure and run across any critters that might be living under there...Ok, ok...I'm a lone woman on a very fixed income and can't afford another professional...any suggestions you may have will be greatly appreciated? Thank you.
Old 01-19-01, 01:43 PM
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Sorry to disappoint you Robin, but the only good solution is to replace the subfloor. Whether you do it or a contractor, it's the best choice especially if water has been standing for a while. Particleboard becomes completely saturated when continually exposed to water. Along with the warpage issue, there will always be a mold and mildew issue both with the subfloor and the carpet... One of the other "pros" might have a different idea, but that's my opinion.
Old 01-19-01, 06:15 PM
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Thanks Dangerous for your quick response...I was sorta afraid of that. Although, within 2 days, part of the floor is drying very well, but the other portion (closer to where the leak was) is still very wet...maybe I'll be lucky and will only need to replace part of it.

I was hoping to see nail holes in the floor which would give me an idea where the joists were, but no such luck. Could a wall stud finder from a hardware store also help in finding the floor joists?

Old 01-19-01, 07:07 PM
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I really doubt that a studfinder would do you any good. The subfloor is most likely too dense for it to register a change. You could drill a small hole in the floor (obviously in and area that will be replaced) and feel around with a bent coat hanger to feel the floor joists. With a little concentration, you will be able to not only find the joist(s) but what direction they are going. (Won't get any critters in through a small hole either) =)

Old 01-19-01, 07:20 PM
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Robin, are you sure your subfloor is particle board and not OSB (oriented strand board)? I've never heard of using paticle board as a structural member of the foundation. If it is OSB it will probably dry out and be perfectly fine. Houses are framed using OSB wich gets rained on for weeks or even months before the roof is put on with no ill effects.

Scott Stephens
Old 01-21-01, 02:44 PM
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Dear Dangerous...what a great idea of the holes and coat hanger idea! I'd never thought of doing that, but it really makes good sense for finding the joists! Thank you.

Dear Scott Stephens...Wow...I guess I'm going to prove my extreme ignorance now...I've never heard or seen anything about only knowledge is of 2x4's & such, ply-wood, panelling, particle board and the venier layers on my furniture. I'll look into OSB...

All I know is when a neighbor built my attached patio roof and used particle board without a tar-paper moisture barrier before adding the shingles, two years of normal rain and snow and the entire roof warped and is falling down now. *LOL*

I'll check into OSB and visit your site in the meantime. Thanks for your response and I'll pray this floor will dry out soon without needing to be replaced. Right now, I'm not using the room at all and the carpet is totally cut away.

I've found so much useful information at this DoItYourself site, it's unbelievable. Kudos & thanks to everyone here.
Old 01-21-01, 04:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Lake Murray, SC USA
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If you have homeowners insurance and a water pipe burst, all of the repair, including carpet replacement is probably covered under your policy.

Monday morning, my first call would be to my insurance company.


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