New Flooring: An Unexpected Renovation

mitigation kitchen leak

July 25, 2023

I’m Allison.
Design obsessed and self-taught DIYer, I'm so excited to share my journey with you, and be a source of inspiration as well as a resource.
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mitigation kitchen leak

It’s an ugly picture, isn’t it? I think so too. This is a cautionary tale about how a refrigerator leak turned my house upside down, what mitigation really looks like and my options for the restoration.

It happened while my parents were visiting. While leaving for work one morning I spotted a puddle of water in the middle of the garage floor. A small dark line retreated from the ceiling above towards the crawl space door. It was official: I had a leak. I placed a bucket under the drip and called a plumber on the way to work.

After an appointment with the local plumber, we realized the refrigerator was the culprit. I had an appliance man come out a couple days later and repair the issue and then decided I’d wait to fix the ceiling to ensure the leak was really fixed.

A month went by, and as I was prepping to fix the ceiling, a funny thing started happening in the kitchen. As I moved through the room, the floors seemed to move with me. At first I thought I was imagining it, but after my foot caught on the edge of a floorboard one morning, I realized that wasn’t the case. The floors were shifting and it was likely because of water trapped underneath them.

Lets pause here for a PSA

I’ll be honest, I thought it was going to be 100% on me to figure out how to fix these floors. It wasn’t until I was talking to a close friend about the situation, that I realized I should call the insurance company. Although I’ve been a home owner for 12+ years, I’ve been fortunate to have had limited problems. In my mind, an insurance claim was for something big – like a roof, or a tree falling and damaging your property. I truly never thought an appliance leak would warrant filing a claim. I’m forever grateful to my friend Anne Marie who encouraged me to call the insurance company.

What my kitchen used to look like, pre-leak

Armed with this new knowledge, I called my insurance agent the next day and explained the situation. He instructed me to call a mitigation company to remove the damaged flooring as well as the insulation in the crawlspace ceiling. They would also air out the spaces and ensure there was no mold. I was relieved.

Fast forward and this was the situation.

servpro mitigation
These machines were so loud and ran continuously for 4 days!

A small leak and suddenly my whole kitchen was turned inside out (and then some!).

I called a flooring contractor, and we discussed my options: I could either stick with the same engineered hardwood flooring that was already installed, or I could use this as an opportunity to upgrade to real hardwood.

I knew what I wanted to do, but I also knew I would likely have to come out of pocket to update the entire house. There were also two rooms downstairs that had a shag carpet in them. What would be under the carpet? Should I leave the carpet and update it later to save some money? And what else would we find when we started tearing things apart?

While I had visions of the Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit floating through my head, I blinked away the images, listened to my gut and said lets do it. I was upgrading to real hardwood. Little did I know, the journey was only beginning and this would change everything.

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