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austinsurfer 05-10-2010 04:42 PM

Help needed with buckling hardwood floors!
 
Hey there. We had hardwoods installed in the entire downstairs of our condo. The wood is buckling in the downstairs bathroom, and the epicenter of the moisture appears to be in front of the toilet. We have ruled out all plumbing problems or even a roof leak. I've had a multitude of professionals look at it. No one can give me a straight answer, but the general consensus seems to be that moisture is coming up from the slab in that spot. The house is very close to the lake (15 feet away). The floors were put down as follows: plastic, 3/4" subfloor, felt paper, then 3/4" oak tongue & groove nail down floor. They did NOT use a chemical waterproofer on the concrete. I have a floor installation guy that says a chemical waterproofer will DEFINITELY prevent this from happening again. But he says the ENTIRE downstairs must be covered so the water doesn't migrate somewhere else where we haven't put the sealer and cause buckling there instead. This obviously means ripping out ALL the flooring and subflooring and starting over. I would appreciate all expert opinions on this! Thanks!

JazMan 05-10-2010 04:53 PM

It sounds like the entire installation was done wrong. However, although I've install a bunch of hardwood and sold them, my specialty is ceramic tiles, not hardwood.

Any time people install 3/4" hardwood over plywood over a slab, I cringe and know it's not gonna work for long,..... most of the time. :eek: What brand flooring is it? What does the instruction sheet tell you? The plastic under the wood makes matters worse I think.

More later, gotta run out for dinner. Answer those few Q's, and also I'm sure some else will help too.

Jaz

firehawkmph 05-10-2010 08:39 PM

Austin,
Your situation was an episode on 'Holmes on Homes'. Same type of install. Floor buckled in the kitchen. Turned out there was a roof leak that let water get down a wall and under the flooring. Plastic kept floor from drying out. You could probably find the episode on his website and watch it. I don't remember exactly what they did, besides taking out the granite tops carefully and then the base cabinets to determine the problem.
Mike Hawkins:)

JazMan 05-10-2010 08:51 PM

Exactomundo Fire.:thumbsup: I saw that episode too. It always amazes me that people think they can lay a sheet of plastic and think it'll keep the moisture out. :no: It's gotta go some place, and it will find a weak spot and wallah........expansion, buckling, mold.

I remember telling people not to build floor on "sleepers" in their basements as long ago as the mid-late '60's. Some times it does work though.

Plywood on plastic on a slab, 15 ft. from a lake, then solid hardwood. Not even LLoyds of London would take that bet.

Still need to know brands and specific series of hardwood. We B waiting.

Jaz

tacomahardwood. 05-11-2010 01:49 AM

everyone pretty much put their finger on it . Regular hardwood on a slab is a bad idea .
Your warranty issues with the installer will be ,
Did they document an approved moisture test method ?
the most accepted will be the calcium chloride test .
Second : You will need to test the wood with a wood floor moisture test tool . call installers and ask if they have it , If it is buckling it will show moisture over 10% . Hardwood comes at 6% , It is NOT RECOMENDEd to nail hardwood over a slab ,some manufactures will warranty engineered floating over a slab , But you will be challenged by the fine print ,
Usually says you can install on a slab , Not below grade . and there is no warranty on a slab installation . Although it will say you can , Fine print will say no warranty ,
I thin k the reason it buckled near the toilet is because there is a penetration for the plumbing there and moisture will seep . NOT WATER . just the moisture drive will force it sort of like steam .but in a smaller way . And eventually it will buckle ,
If you used a reputeable company they would have a documented calcium test on your copy of the estimate or contract .Which should show less that 3 lbs moisture per 1000 square ft . they did a proper test and followed the rules you will be hard pressed to get them to fix it ,
If they did not do a moisture check and document ,then you will be likely to win . I don't put hardwood over a slab , PERIOD !
it's not worth the risk . Even if the concrete tests within spec , IF the downspouts or footing drains .or splash blocks don't direct the rainwater away from the house then it will gain moisture underneath the concrete , SOOOOO Thats the basics , tacomahardwoodfloors.com

austinsurfer 05-11-2010 01:24 PM

Thanks for your replies
 
I don't know the brand of the wood. It is 3/4" white oak. But my understanding is that alot of people do install hardwood floors on slabs. I got bids from several reputable companies, who all said they would do it. In fact, there wasn't any company that showed the slightest hesitation in doing it.

tacomahardwood. 05-11-2010 02:30 PM

Assuming austinsurfer means you are from Austin Texas You have a dry environment , I should have asked where you are from first , It is High risk Here In the rainy state of Washington .Bottom line is did they document the testing on the slab , The other thing I might think would be the toilet drain pipe could have a leak in it .Maybe below the surface a little and you can't see the actual water but the moisture will seep , I am a Proffesional I don't post on here for giggles , I give advice, I work for a major retailer , Under contract I can not use their name in any way in any advertisement or association to my name , But let me be clear , I am required to go to Industry proffessional training , I get the type of response you gave on a regular basis , I could go on and an about this ,But I repeat I am a pro , Period , Let me be really BLUNT !!! I DON'T CARE WHAT THREE OTHER CONTRACTORS TOLD YOU !!!! did they document a Moisture test that is acceptable to the National Wood flooring Association or NOT !!! NWFA sets the industry standard and is a standard used in court ,
Let me go on .... My general contractor pal Bob , Had a cheaper bidder put a wood floor in a basement .It went sideways . He said "there was wood floor in another area and it didn't buckle ". and the installation company said they could do it " ... He asked me about it , BUT wanted the cheap bidder , I also told him Wood floors can go in a basement in CERTAIN conditions , He did not want to here it , Some one else said he could do it and he went with them ,
When the lawsuit started he wanted my help . I said sorry pal . Did your installer do a moisture test previous to installation ? He got back to me a couple days later and said "the installer said it was 4% ", Now we know he had a incompetant installer ,
#1 NO WOOD IN WASHINTON tests at 4% it is a lie
#2 If installer tested the wood that was on the concrete he was incompetant , Because it's the concrete that needs testing
#3 the acceptable method for concrete is a Calcium chloride test . Calcium chloride measures moisture emission and is estimated in lbs per 1000 square ft . If it is less that 3 Lbs per 1000 you can put floating engineered over it ,
#4 He did it cause some one said he could ,
#5 Now the attorneys get a cut of the pie cause some one said he could
So again did they document an acceptable moisture test or not . Is it in the paperwork you have or not ?
tacomahardwoodfloors.com

austinsurfer 05-11-2010 03:04 PM

Testing Moisture
 
A few more things...they acclimated the wood in the house before it was installed. The wood was at approximately 5 or 6%, and the concrete was about the same. They used a moisture reader--no chemical tests were done. I did see them do the readings.

tacomahardwood. 05-11-2010 08:57 PM

did they use a electrical probe type for the concrete ? or tape down a clear plastic box and put calcium chloride under it ,then weigh the calcium for moisture gain on a gram scale ?
I think the problem is the toilet . I would say get a wood moisture probe and see how far it extends away from the toilet and record the readings . then do it again in a week , and two weeks etc
this may tell if it is spreading from the toilet , The toilet may not be visually leaking ,it ould be leaking under ground , Or where the toilet penetration is the moisture may seep from the ground , I would bet if its in the toilet area its the toilet , Maybe some one flooded the toilet ? If so the moisture test should show a decline in a week by week basis , If you make the bathroom off limits , take a shop vac and suck the water out of the toilet , Shut off the valve , then do a week by week moisture check . If it declines with the toilet off , Put it back into service and see if it happens again . since you know the moisture content going in then the difference should be measureable , Here in Washington state wood inside the house off the ground seems to average 8% But I have seen basements where the wood near the floor was 13% But the concrete was below 3 lbs per 1000 square foot ,
The calcium chloride test is the most acceptable test method . Chemicals are more related to bonding to the floor with glue or moisture barriers , You need to call a bunch of wood floor shops in the area and ask what the usuall NWFA accepted methods are , Or go to the National wood flooring association web site and see if there is a consumer area where you can ask .
Again a moisture test with probes is only relative IF there is a problem , It does not measure moisture emission , Or climate changes that effect that , I don't know what else to tell you , I think you may need to test with a wood probe and see if indeed the toilet area is the only problem then replace that area with a different product ., Or take it out and do a Calcium chloride test , Its been My experience that wood will start to buckle at 13% , It will migrate through the wood , And how far depends on how fast it dries . if it dries faster then the rest gets wet it will not migrate , If not it willkeep moving ,
What I percieve is ::: You want to believe because "They" said you could do it .This should not happen , "they said " So we should not have a problem , If they indeed did a probe test of the CONCRETE then THEY didn't find any moisture differences , But if THEY did not test the concrete vis calcium chloride test , THEY opened this up to their tolerance for risk ,
But again I think the problem is the toilet . You can get a clue online but a reliable acceptable test method will be a FACT , tacomahardwoodfloors.com

Rob MacPherson 05-12-2010 03:18 PM

It sounds like you're having a lot of moisture issues.... How the humidity levels and temperature in your basement?

Does appling air movement and dehumidification help?

Rob

www.highlandrestoration.ca

TrafficCopSmith 05-28-2010 12:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by austinsurfer (Post 440054)
Hey there. We had hardwoods installed in the entire downstairs of our condo. The wood is buckling in the downstairs bathroom, and the epicenter of the moisture appears to be in front of the toilet. We have ruled out all plumbing problems or even a roof leak. I've had a multitude of professionals look at it. No one can give me a straight answer, but the general consensus seems to be that moisture is coming up from the slab in that spot. The house is very close to the lake (15 feet away). The floors were put down as follows: plastic, 3/4" subfloor, felt paper, then 3/4" oak tongue & groove nail down floor. They did NOT use a chemical waterproofer on the concrete. I have a floor installation guy that says a chemical waterproofer will DEFINITELY prevent this from happening again. But he says the ENTIRE downstairs must be covered so the water doesn't migrate somewhere else where we haven't put the sealer and cause buckling there instead. This obviously means ripping out ALL the flooring and subflooring and starting over. I would appreciate all expert opinions on this! Thanks!

It really seems like you're going to have to rip out a lot of the flooring to fix this issue. If moisture is building up in there, that plastic is going to have to come out and a chemical waterproofer put on the cement.

rusty baker 05-28-2010 02:49 PM

Is the water coming into the toilet very cold? If so, moisture can condense on the outside of it and drip down and ruin the wood floor.

flooringgirl 05-29-2010 10:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rusty baker (Post 448161)
Is the water coming into the toilet very cold? If so, moisture can condense on the outside of it and drip down and ruin the wood floor.

Very good point! When it is really hot outside, our toilet gets lots of condensation on the tank (our water comes from an underground well, which is presumably cooler). Then, the beads run down and make small puddles on the floor. Thankfully, we have vinyl in the bath.

Tia

ziggyziggy 08-13-2010 12:15 PM

You can fix this problem by installing a toilet that has a styrofoam lined tank. This insulates the toilet and prevents condensation on the outside. Just had this discussion yesterday.

it help 08-24-2010 10:01 PM

answer
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by austinsurfer (Post 440054)
Hey there. We had hardwoods installed in the entire downstairs of our condo. The wood is buckling in the downstairs bathroom, and the epicenter of the moisture appears to be in front of the toilet. We have ruled out all plumbing problems or even a roof leak. I've had a multitude of professionals look at it. No one can give me a straight answer, but the general consensus seems to be that moisture is coming up from the slab in that spot. The house is very close to the lake (15 feet away). The floors were put down as follows: plastic, 3/4" subfloor, felt paper, then 3/4" oak tongue & groove nail down floor. They did NOT use a chemical waterproofer on the concrete. I have a floor installation guy that says a chemical waterproofer will DEFINITELY prevent this from happening again. But he says the ENTIRE downstairs must be covered so the water doesn't migrate somewhere else where we haven't put the sealer and cause buckling there instead. This obviously means ripping out ALL the flooring and subflooring and starting over. I would appreciate all expert opinions on this! Thanks!

Unfortunately, the only answer to this problem is to take them out and replace them. You will need to have the entire slab sealed before you install new flooring
What I would suggest is installing bamboo flooring. It seems to be getting cheaper at 2 usd a sq ft. Unless your current wood is reusable which I dought it is and even if it is then you will need to find the exact same wood to replace it with. Chances are it has been discontinued. Been there done that. Bamboo is easy to work with and longer lasting.


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