Fixing Flooded Flooring

Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on November 03, 2022 # Lifestyle

Disclaimer: I cannot imagine being a displaced, disabled person or family in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian – and the trauma these families have undergone in the last month. I do not wish to diminish any of their heartaches. This is just one minuscule flood in the vast comparison of how others are struggling to rebuild lives in Florida and neighboring flood zones that hurricane season has left in its wake.

At the end of this summer, our air conditioner took a different angle, right into our bedroom, so that when rains of biblical proportions poured down, they poured directly into the walls. As I’m the one responsible for installing the air conditioners, this is obviously “my bad,” as the kids like to say. However, when my daughter called me after school one day to say, “Mom, there is some water on the floor in the utility room,” I immediately went to the dark place, thinking it was our boiler which would cost gazillions of dollars to repair. However, upon my investigation, I discovered it was not coming from the boiler, the washing machine, or any other water-driven appliance. So, I called our plumber and friend for advice. He is the one who pointed me in the direction of the air conditioner. And sure, enough, when I stepped onto the hardwood floor of our bedroom, I felt the squish of water beneath boards and noted tiny bubbles were escaping the cracks.

Here’s the thing, just one of the things, really, I’ve learned about home ownership and crap like broken ceilings, water damage or chimney fires – or that time one of our mothers blew up the glass spinning plate in the microwave – as the able-bodied partner, we don’t always have to feel guilty or bad when shitty things happen. And yes, I’m a high school English teacher, and that is not the appropriate language, but some days, it’s just about the perfect language for watching one’s bedroom floor fill with water. But I know enough to spring into action, so I yanked the AC out of the wall from the outdoors during the biblically proportionate rainstorm knowing it could get worse. Then I cranked the fans and called a good friend whose house actually had flooded when the river rose too high behind their home.

They let us borrow two dehumidifiers and an air purifier just in case we had mold. So, if you know about water damage, you also know that hardwood floors sometimes buckle as high as six or seven inches, which makes wheelchair passage extra difficult. After about three weeks of hoping the floor would just settle after drying, it did not. Go figure. Another friend and neighbor of my parents, who actually measured mold for a living, came over to see how bad the mold potentially was. Guess what. We had mold. So, I began tearing up the flooring, which was actually easier than I imagined. Then I called about eight flooring professionals, and no one returned my call. I then discussed my next steps with my fellow soccer coach, Ryan, who told me we needed to remove the baseboard and cut a hole into the drywall so the wall would dry out. I could not believe how much more the dehumidifier drained from the floors and the wall.

Geoff was slightly horrified when he came home to me watching a YouTube video on removing baseboards without killing one’s walls. But I had it figured out-- mostly. He helped me to saw the channel hole in the drywall, and our next step is to replace the floorboards. Fortunately, the man who owned our house left us the extra box of wood just in case. Ryan told me he would come over to help me install the floorboards. By “help,” I asked him if this just meant he would come over to do it with me, watching and learning “just in case” it happens again. Thank you, Ryan Weeden! Godspeed to those of you frustrated with home projects that are not as able or handy or as you would like to be to batten down the hatches before snow falls.

Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 12 and 11 respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.