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Old 06-06-2008, 01:44 PM   #1
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Floorboards "warping" in different areas of house


The house was built by my father in law around 50 years ago. My husband says it has a subfloor. (My husband also knows nothing about carpentry, electricity, etc. So he is no help.)

The floorboards are 2 1/4" wide. I think they are T&G. In different places in the house some areas are cupping, some are arching, some are doing both on the same narrow board. There is no pattern to this from one room to another.
The house is a ranch style and has maybe an 18" crawl space under it. I have never seen anything like this.

There is an area about 3' X 3' in front of built in oven. Across kitchen the door is dragging on another area. In one bedroom this is in the middle of the room.

We are living in the house rent free. Father in law will not come look at it. He is 85 years old. He will not allow us to do anything to it. He says it is the man who installed a shower around our bathtub caused it and it is probably water damage. How can water damage cause different areas of the house that is no where near water to do this? All plumbing around the area where the man worked is totally dry. I am so confused. What can this be?

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Old 06-06-2008, 02:15 PM   #2
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Floorboards "warping" in different areas of house


Jeez. In-laws.

Moisture from the shower could cause it, but it would be limited to the areas directly affected by direct contact with the moistiure.

Here's my suspicion...
Moisture in the air versus moisture in the wood will often cause hardwood floors to expand and contract. The wood takes in humidity when you have the windows down in the spring, for instance. But, when the furnace or AC are turned on, a huge amount of moisture is removed from the air in the house. Subsequently, the moisture content of the wood goes down. Changes in moisture content can cause wood to freak out in some cases and do things such as those that you're describing.

Did this happen during the winter when the furnace was running?

If your AC is currently on, try running a humidifier in the affected rooms for a couple weeks and see if that helps. If your house is currently open, run your AC for a couple weeks. I bet you'll see a change, although they'll probably never go back to perfect.

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Old 06-06-2008, 02:15 PM   #3
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Floorboards "warping" in different areas of house


It is absolutely moisture damage. Where the moisture is coming from may be difficult to detect. If you had a leak and water was distributed throughout the crawlspace then that may be the answer. The crawlspace should have a vapor barrier on the ground but that's a different issue.

If there was a leak and water was distributed on top of the subfloor and under the finished floor that's a possibility.

If you have had a dehumidifier running all these years and it has now failed, that's a possibility.

If you have been experiencing a lot of rain in your area and you don't have a dehumidifier, that's a possibility.

In any event you need to determine the source of the moisture and correct that problem. Then it is likely you can have the floors sanded and refinished to eliminate the cups and crowns. But until something is done to identify and eliminate the moisture source there is nothing that can be done.
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Old 06-06-2008, 02:50 PM   #4
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Floorboards "warping" in different areas of house


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Originally Posted by Bud Cline View Post
It is absolutely moisture damage. Where the moisture is coming from may be difficult to detect. If you had a leak and water was distributed throughout the crawlspace then that may be the answer. The crawlspace should have a vapor barrier on the ground but that's a different issue.

If there was a leak and water was distributed on top of the subfloor and under the finished floor that's a possibility.

If you have had a dehumidifier running all these years and it has now failed, that's a possibility.

If you have been experiencing a lot of rain in your area and you don't have a dehumidifier, that's a possibility.

In any event you need to determine the source of the moisture and correct that problem. Then it is likely you can have the floors sanded and refinished to eliminate the cups and crowns. But until something is done to identify and eliminate the moisture source there is nothing that can be done.
What is a vapor barrier? This house was built 50 years ago by my father in law's own hands and believe me no building codes were followed out in no man's land of sw ms. I am sure he has never heard of a vapor barrier. Also, there has never been a dehumidifier.

We did have a lot of rain a few weeks before this, but can't be sure this is the cause. Father in law installed little "grates" in the brick for air circulation, I suppose, around the bottom of the house and these are about the size of heat and ac vents that are on floors of some homes. Now, these are just above ground level and water could have gotten thru these in that hard rain we had. Hubby doesn't think that is it.

If it is a leak and the leak is repaired I think maybe the sub floor and floors may have to be replaced!! Just thinking out loud. This could be a costly thing. Father in law may have to sell some timber.

Thanks again. You guys are great!!
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Old 06-06-2008, 03:39 PM   #5
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Floorboards "warping" in different areas of house


What's the lanscaping around the house like? Does rainfall drain-away rapidly or does it sit and saturate the ground around the home.

Do you water plants next to the foundation?

How deep is the water table?

All factors that may need to be investigated.
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Old 06-06-2008, 04:15 PM   #6
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Floorboards "warping" in different areas of house


I think bud is on the right track sandi. I build custom homes and we allways us a vapor barrier. It is a plastic sheating that covers the ground under a house. Its likely you do not have one. We also stress over getting rain and irriagation water to sheed away from house. Have you took a look under the house? Ill bet its wet under there. If so, some landscaping needs to be done first and open up all the vents and crawl space doors to get some air under there. then put down the poly. It needs to cover at least 80% of the ground. Also make sure water dont come through those vents or the vapor barrior just becomes a pond liner and makes things worse. After your sure its dry and gona stay that way then have your floors repaired. O yea while your under there look for termite damage cause they love conditions like this.

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Last edited by ididit; 06-06-2008 at 04:18 PM.
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