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Old 10-13-2010, 08:20 PM   #1
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What would cause this?


It is the floor of the basement. Many of these "rolling lifts" throughout. What would cause this and how does it have to be fixed? It is not my house, so I can't rip it up, it was a bank owned house we looked at.

Any help would be great!
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Old 10-13-2010, 08:29 PM   #2
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What would cause this?


Moisture related. Anytime a floor is laid, it needs spacing around the perimeter, to allow for movement in the material.

In the photo, the flooring may or may not have been spaced, but in a basement, there is a much higher likelihood of high moisture. When the flooring expands, it reaches a point where it can no longer expand outward, so it goes upward.

Personally, I'd remove it and replace with a more appropriate product for high moisture, such as ceramic tile.

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Old 10-13-2010, 08:31 PM   #3
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What would cause this?


Water damage. There was a flood in the house. Could have been a burst pipe. Could have been water coming in from outside. Impossible to tell which. Where there is water damage there is usually mold. Did you smell a musty scent?
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Old 10-13-2010, 08:34 PM   #4
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What would cause this?


That's a cool photo. I'd guess relative humidity of the flooring was very low when it was installed, and that it was installed tightly, then when wood's internal relative humidity went up in basement environment, the wood expanded (boards became a bit wider). That increased board width had to go somewhere, but if they were installed tight the only place for it to go would be "up".
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Old 10-13-2010, 08:36 PM   #5
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What would cause this?


No musty smell in the basement. But, it is a walkout on 3 sides, so it definitely gets a decent amount of ventilation. As for the water damage, the walls all looked fine, there was absolutely no other evidence of water damage that you would normally find. So maybe it is coming up from underneath?
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Old 10-13-2010, 08:43 PM   #6
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What would cause this?


Maybe coming from underneath or maybe the walls were repaired. Drywall wicks water so there must have been some drywall damage at the time the floor buckled. I saw the same buckling at a friend's house after the room flooded. It looked just like that.
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Old 10-13-2010, 09:36 PM   #7
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What would cause this?


maybe its just condensation from the room. if its bank owned, the place was probably closed up for at time before you saw it, maybe a LONG time.

For that matter, is it absolute humidity (number of water molecules) that makes wood swell, or is it relative humidity? Wood doesn't have to be wet with liquid water to do this does it?

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Old 10-13-2010, 10:04 PM   #8
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What would cause this?


There doesn't have to be some kind of water flood to cause a floor to tent. It was installed with little or no expansion space, the flooring was not allowed to acclimate to the room, or both. In this case add unconditioned climate to the mix.

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Old 10-13-2010, 10:58 PM   #9
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What would cause this?


DIY FAIL! I love the the baseboard got pitched upward. Let the bank keep it.
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Old 10-14-2010, 11:38 AM   #10
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What would cause this?


Below-grade wood flooring?

Yeah, probably due to moisture -- could have been due to a heavy rain, pipe burst, etc. If it's below grade, I'd just rip the stuff out, and install something more suitable. It wouldn't be a deal breaker for me if the price was right.
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Old 10-14-2010, 11:49 AM   #11
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What would cause this?


I think you said:

There's no smell (under current conditions anyway)

No evidence of mold (that you have seen anyway)

No evidence of water damage on finished surfaces of wall or baseboard or ceiling

If the wood material of the floor looks otherwise ok, I wonder how hard it would be to pull up and how long you plan to own the place? Could you pull it up carefully with intent to put some of it back down, then stack it with stickers (for air circulation) up off the floor, and then watch how the floor behaves during a year of weather? If it stays dry, and there's no sign of other moisture problems, I'm sticking with vapor through the slab and/or run of the mill condensation. You might be able to easily solve that with the finished basement techniques in an article from Fine Homebuilding awhile back.... two layers of EPS (for permeability) with staggered and taped joints, topped by two layers of subfloor screwed thru the foam into the slab, again with staggered joints. Raising the floor may screw with code for door heights, steps, stairs, electrical outles.... or it might be simple.

Big picture.... if there is no other obvious sign of water you may have something easy to tame but one that frightens everyone else. Tread carefully but you could have found a bargain.
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Old 10-14-2010, 05:31 PM   #12
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What would cause this?


That's a pretty extreme photo. I have looked at a lot of houses that had water damage, and I haven't seen tenting that bad in any of them. Wood can expand up to 2 percent perpendicular to the grain when going from kiln dry to maximum normal moisture content, which means a 20 foot wide floor could theoretically expand up to about 5 inches. Your floor must be close to the worst possible case, suggesting it was installed in a kiln dry condition, and absorbed moisture either from the slab, the air, or from a flood, causing it to expand the maximum theoretical amount. Regardless, hardwood over slab concrete is almost always bad news.
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Old 10-14-2010, 06:03 PM   #13
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What would cause this?


I once looked at a foreclosure that I was thinking to buy and flip. Looked great on the outside, but when I got inside, there were several spots that looked your photo, as well as some that were worse. Turns out the bank did not winterize the house...numerous pipes had burst. Not good...
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Old 10-21-2010, 12:59 PM   #14
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What would cause this?


Let me expand on some of the other postings:

1) Identify the type of flooring and check the manufacturing specs. Does this flooring qualify to be installed below grade.

2) Was the proper expansion gap allowed for this specific type of flooring?

3) Now, here is the most likely problem:

Before the flooring was installed, the installer, most likely, did not check the moisture content of the slab before installation. To be more precise, all concrete slabs should be checked for the amount of vapor pressure exiting the slab before installation of wood, vinyl, tile or carpet.

Acceptable industry standards for vapor pressure exiting a slab is 3 to 3.5 pounds of pressure per 1000 sf in a 24 hour period. To be on the safe side, the amount of acceptable vapor pressure should be checked per manufacturing specs per product.

When vapor pressure is over 4 pounds, this is an obvious warning sign. If the pressure is over 5 pounds, it is almost a sure bet that the excessive bapor pressure will cause the floor to fail, as in your case.

Excessive vapor pressure can buckle a wood, tile or vinyl floor. As for carpet, too much pressure will dampen the carpet/pad and create possible mold issues.

Water and vapor pressure travel the path of least resistance. Excessive pressure will push through the floor and can raise the moldings and create drywall cracks up to the ceiling...........I have seen cracks run 20' high in an entry.

If you are going to try and save this floor, you, first, have to identify the problem. You need a Tramex Concrete Moisture Meter to get preliminary readings of the surface of the slab. If the vapor pressure is over 4 pounds, there are several other tests that can be performed to test the pressure in the slab, plus the relative humidity. Of course, you are going to need some working room.

What type of flooring is this? Glue, clip, floating?

If there is excessive vapor pressure, heat and or dehumidification would be required to lower the pressure to an acceptable level. Then, a sealer could be applied.

I could write forever, so, hopefully, this is enough to get your curiosity and reply.

I am sharing 17 years of "hands-on" insurance restoration/adjusting experience.

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