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I had a water leak under my kitchen sink. It happened pretty slowly over the course of perhaps 8 weeks. The bottom of the cupboard was saturated and about 6 " up the sides of the same cupboard unit. Also, I have old wood floors and some of the floorboards (maybe 8" in front and 2' off to one side) are a little tweaked. Looks like they separated a little and curled some.

If the aesthetics of the damage are something I can live with, can I just set up a dehumidifier and fan and dry the whole are out really well or is that inviting trouble in the form of mold or something. I'm wondering about avoiding the time, cost, and trouble of pulling out cupboards, pulling up floors, etc.

Mold is our main concern and I guess I'm wondering if mold is a problem in persistently wet areas or if a single incident can spark a mold infestation that self-perpetuates.

  • My dishwasher leaked a little for a long time (many months) before I figured out where the water was coming from. I only noticed the leak when the dishwasher was run more than once a day, so it was a little leak. The wood floor would get wet and dry out. When I replaced the dishwasher, the wood did not seem to have mildew. Wood can withstand being wet now and then. Mold will not grow in your floor or cabinets if they are dry. Is the area vented? – Yehuda_NYC Feb 3 '16 at 13:51
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Jeremy, I would strongly suggest you use a Multimeter to measure the water content in your wood flooring, and other materials around the sink. Please view this link to a suggested meter you can purchase, it has prongs so that you may penetrate into the wood with minimum damage and get a reading from the inside, as water can stay contained withing the wood. If the leak was dried within 48 hours and you have a water content less than 16% on your wood and other damaged materials, then you should be safe. If the leak was not dried withing 48 hours, or the water content in the wood is higher than 16%, I would strongly suggest you hire a air quality inspector, he can take a sample from your kitchen air, and tell you if you have elevated amounts of spores indoors, and if you have mold species that can affect your health. I would make it a priority to ensure moisture is not higher than 60% throughout the house as this can trigger mold to grow. Some species are known to stay dormant for 48 hours and sprout airborne, which can cause further damage to the A/C system. Also if you have access to a FLIR infrared camera, this can help you detect if there is moisture in the drywall, or wood frame behind the sink. It is true that mold is in every environment but elevated amounts of certain species such as aspergillus penicillium, or stachybotrys can cause allergies or infections to your respiratory system. I am a professional mold remediator, hope my advice is of help.

  • Incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. I have a meter on order and will consider hiring an air quality inspector. – Jeremy Foster Mar 8 '16 at 23:52
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If the wood is stable (some particle board swells and falls apart) once dry wipe down with hydrogen peroxide to kill any mold spores. Hydrogen peroxide on the floor boards may slightly bleach the wood if left on very long but will take care of mold spores without the smell of bleach. Bleach can also be used but will need to be diluted and will smell bad for quite a while.

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Mold spores are everywhere and on everything, the only reason mold doesn't grow on everything is that most surfaces are too dry for the mould to grow. A damp, organic surface is just what mold needs to grow. If you have taken care of the leak, and thoroughly dried the area, there should be minimal risk that mold will continue to subsist in that location, barring a damp basement or crawlspace below.

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