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Old 01-01-2010, 09:56 PM   #1
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recent gaps in wood floor! Help!


I am not sure if I should put this post under construction or under flooring, but here goes. My house is a 60's model ranch and I've lived here 3 years. About a month ago we had a dry cold spell and in the middle of the night I heard some loud pops (I had just fallen asleep and they were loud enough to wake me up). Next day I noticed some gaps in my wood floors. Just a small one between 2 boards in the hall, but several large ones near an exterior window wall in the living room. They start about 1 foot from the wall. Largest gap is almost 1/4 inch. I've done quite a bit of work to the place and had the floors refinished the first year. Also had a new high effecient furnance and a new roof (complete tear off) installed last spring. There are no signs of plaster cracking anywhere, so I can't figure out why this is happening. I put a level on the floor and don't see anything drastic. Anyone have any ideas?

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Old 01-02-2010, 06:18 AM   #2
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recent gaps in wood floor! Help!


As winter and heating bring considerably lower humidity levels than during summer, wood shrinks. If humidity is very low, it may shrink a lot, but 1/4 gaps in flooring seem excessive. Check the humidity, and get a humidifier if below 25%. House plants also help. Winter levels should be 45-50%. If you live in the desert, that obviously is not possible. I am generally talking about the muggy east coast.

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Old 01-02-2010, 07:13 PM   #3
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recent gaps in wood floor! Help!


Thanks Bill. I am in the Northwest so there's plenty of humidity here. That was just a strange dry spell. I am wondering if the new furnace has anything to do with it? there is a heat register right under the window on that exterior wall. This is really stumping me! Also, I checked the windows and they aren't binding or anything, so don't think that the place has settled. Oh Well! Thanks though!
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Old 01-02-2010, 07:27 PM   #4
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recent gaps in wood floor! Help!


I agree with Just Bill, the humidity level has changed from the new furnace. Especially under the window. Maybe the ducting runs close to the floor to that register? If over a crawl space, perhaps dropping it and wrapping with more insulation would help send more heat into the room, less heat radiating to lose to the floor boards. http://www.woodfloorsonline.com/tech...oodwater1.html

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Old 01-03-2010, 12:42 PM   #5
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recent gaps in wood floor! Help!


Does the new furnace have a humidifier? What is it set at? What's the humidity level in the house?
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:05 PM   #6
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recent gaps in wood floor! Help!


It sounds to me that if the house is 40+ years old and it started to do this now just after installing a new furnace it is a pretty good guess that the funace is a big contributer to the situation. I would deffinitly check the humidity in the house along with seeing if there is a humidifier on the furnace. Secondly look to see what the sublfoor is in the house. Back in the 1960's they were still using 1x6 or 1x8's for subflooring in some areas. If your house has a demensioal subfloor it could answer some of why there is such a big gap in the flooring. If the hardwood is shrinking along with the subfloor shrinking then the gap would grow wider then normal. It would do it the most if they didn't actually install the subfloor properly. When they used to use the demensional subfloors properly they would install it on a diagonal. That way no matter what way the hardwood floor was installed it would usually not run parallel with the subfloor. That way the movement of the subfloor wouldn't have as great an effect on the floor.

If you do have sheeting for the subfloor then it sounds to me like that area might have had a little faulty nailing in the hardwood.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:30 PM   #7
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recent gaps in wood floor! Help!


Wood shrinks when it dries out & expands when it takes on moisture. Pretty normal with forced air heat. Takes the moisture out of the house. Ever notice if ya shuffle your feet across the carpet in the winter & touch something you get a spark in the winter? Dry air & static electricity. You're floors will more or less return to normal come spring when the humidity in the house comes back up.

BTW, oak can shrink or expand up to 1/8" per foot.
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Old 01-09-2010, 10:37 AM   #8
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recent gaps in wood floor! Help!


Thanks everyone. I suspected the new furnance might have something to do with it, but I forgot to mention I also had the crawlspace insulated after the furnance install, so I think at this point I should keep an eye on it as we get to summer and see if the humidity (or lack thereof) is the issue. The subfloor is 2x6, but I am not sure if it's laid diagonally or not. But everyone has given some great clues. It's now just a wait and see! Thanks again!

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