Does Road Salt Contribute To Winter Water Damage Cleanup?

water damage cleanup missoulaHere in Missoula, dealing with snow and ice is a challenge every winter. Road salt is very effective at melting snow and ice in Montana. De-icing products are vital on roadways and driveways so that cars (and people) don’t slip.The benefit of safety that road salting provides is countered with some destructive actions. Road salt can contaminate drinking water, kill or endanger wildlife,  and damage property. The salt residue can then make its way into your home and damage your floors.   

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the rock salt most used in the USA for deicing roads and highways is Sodium Chloride (NaCl). Montana typically uses magnesium chloride (MgCl) extracted from the Great Salt Lake. Calcium chloride (CaCl) is even safer for the environment but is more expensive, so is typically reserved for use in vulnerable areas. 

Any of these types of salt that is spread outdoors will make it indoors from the driveway and garage via your feet and your pets’ paws. In a Missoula winter, the salt that comes into your floors with snow, ice and sleet can combine to make even more significant water damage. Be diligent about removing excess moisture and grit from the front porch, foyer and mudroom. Watch for water on the floor, threshold, and door jamb to prevent additional damage.

Hard Surface Flooring 

One of the challenges in winter is maintaining your hardwood and tile floors during “salt season.”  Salt is highly alkaline; you need to neutralize the salt in order to remove it. Most floor cleaners are PH neutral and smear the salt on top of the surface. The floor then becomes a filmy sticky mess. The salt residue plus daily snow, sleet and rain, can begin to damage the tiles and vinyl. Marble, and other natural stones are sensitive and can be easily damaged.


Rough and jagged salt crystals are hazardous to hardwood floors; they can scratch the surface if they’re dragged across the floor. It acts like sand and makes tiny abrasions that ruin the finish. There’s also the potential for the particles to cause chemical damage on the floors. Any water damage you have will be amplified by the corrosive nature of the salt. 

Hardwood floors are vulnerable to mold and mildew; immediately remove any moisture from your floors. After standing water has lingered, the wood can warp and crack. If you find unexplained puddles or stains on your hardwood floors, call water damage cleanup experts at Five Valleys to come investigate. The technicians can find, cleanup and repair water damage anywhere in your home.  

Carpets and Rugs

When you track salt in the house, the water dries and white, crumbly stains appear. Don’t attempt to wipe the stains off with water or a damp sponge. Instead of removing the salt, the water will simply dissolve the salt and set it further into the fibers. Don’t use detergents on the stained area either. Detergents are designed to loosen molecules and particles from the carpet fibers themselves, but with salt it will work to dissolve and spread the crystals.

Thankfully, Five Valleys also cleans and maintains both carpets. They have years of experience in identifying and removing the salt residue without damaging the fibers. Trust them to use the proper products and procedures to save your rugs from more damage. After cleanup, your home will look and smell better than ever. 

On Concrete Surfaces 

On your driveway, sidewalk and in your garage, the salt residue can react with the concrete. You  not only need to 1) clean it to stop tracking it inside your home, you need to 2) clean up the concrete.  

Salt and deicers create a chemical mix that can seep into concrete. The brine re-freezes when temperatures drop, then evaporates when temperatures warm, damaging the concrete. How should you remove salt stains from concrete? Never use a pressure washer. High water pressure drives the salty solution deeper into concrete. Instead, use a solution of 1 cup vinegar and a squirt of dish soap / gallon of warm water. Scrub with a stiff brush or broom, then remove by moping or using a wet vac.

Or call the water damage cleanup professionals in Missoula, Five Valleys. 

Prevention Tips

Short of removing your shoes and boots outside the front door, you can take steps to lessen the damage. Knock off snow from shoes and boots outside the front door or in a mudroom. Wipe them on heavy, coarse rugs both inside and outside each exterior door. Clean them every week and replace them when they wear out. 

Water Damage Cleanup In Missoula

Sometimes caring for your home requires extra help. When it comes to maintaining, repairing and restoring your home from water damage, act decisively. First call professional water damage cleanup technicians. Then call the insurance agent. While you are starting the insurance claim paperwork, Five Valley technicians will be on the way to help. Make the call to your Five Valleys team now for more information.

Contact Us

If this is an emergency, please call 406-542-2113 for immediate service.