Looking for a cure for a warping hardwood floor not caused by a leak

I have a client who is has a lovely house built in 2010 that has oak hardwood floors throughout. There are apparently no other moisture issues besides the hardwood flooring. This problem is on the third floor and the house has hardwood on all three floors. The owner is noticing that the first floor is starting to have the same problem. Important to note that the third floor warping is directly in the middle of the floor and runs the length of the third floor. The house has an open staircase that goes from the first to the third floor. There has not been any moisture around the windows. The house has warm air heating. The floor(s) have been replaced but they are warping again. Owner is assuming that it is an excessive moisture problem and wants to install dehumidifiers.
I haven't seen the house yet and a blower door test has not been done. I don't want him to spend money on an expensive dehumidification system if it isn't going to cure the problem. Thoughts would be welcome.

Tags: humidity, warped floor

Views: 14930

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

David,  your suggestion is really very good.  Since so many dishwashers are hooked up into the sink,  it's obvious to check only the sink.  But if the dishwasher motor seals are failing,  water will drip out onto the flooring and follow it back to the lowest point.  Seldom is the lowest point in a floor near the outside walls.  And it may be following the subfloor  -- mostly invisible to the owners.

Nine years in the house is about the time you would expect dishwasher seals to fail..

Refrigerator leaks can do the same...

How are your gutters and downspouts and extensions functioning? and is the land still banked away from the house properly?  Hundreds of gallons of water come off an average size roof during a say 1" rainfall. Best time to look at this is during a downpour.  I had one home that went from needing 2 basement dehumidifiers emptied each day to once every 2 days just by regrading a few spots around the perimeter of the house.

I'm skeptical there is a humidity problem on an upper floor this time of year, but first step would be to gather data. Measure humidity. For $100 or less one can by a USB ported temperature and humidity logger.

Does the home have excessive internal sources of humidity such as 5 big dogs or a gazillion house plants?

This may be too easy of an answer, but I had a problem similar to this in a rental home I was working on. Turns out the occupant was using a steam mop (Shark) and thought nothing of it since she "used it on all her hard floors." This is probably something that is laughably simple compared to what you are facing, but you might want to gingerly ask how the floors are generally cleaned at your clients home.

My observation is this - Mid Atlantic region:  If a 2400 ft2 house is at about 5-8 ACH50 (which most new houses here have been at since about 2000) and there are 3-4 people in it, then the RH is about 40-45% if there are no other moisture problems.  Enough spaghetti gets cooked, enough showers get taken, and enough breathing is going on to supply a balance with the air leakage to maintain a reasonable RH. If the house gets smaller, tighter, or more heavily occupied, you can get problems.  Likewise if a house is bigger, looser, or more lightly occupied you can get problems.

One of the local large (3-400 a year) national builders specializes in houses over about 3500 ft2 and on up to about 6500 ft.  They found that if they installed a humidifier on each system as standard (either 2 or 3 systems) their floor warranty problems virtually disappeared.

If this house has 3 living floors, it may be a large house.  And the third floor maybe the warmest, therefore have the lowest RH.


Home Energy Pros

Home Energy Pros was founded by the developers of Home Energy Saver Pro (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy,) and brought to you in partnership with Home Energy magazine.  Home Energy Pros is sponsored by the Better Buildings Residential Network.

Latest Activity

Robyn Smith replied to Chris Woods's discussion Looking to purchase Minneapolis Blower door system- Model 3 with DG-700 in the group Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase
"Hi Chris, I replied to you via email yesterday. I have what you are looking for!! Minneapolis…"
7 hours ago
Profile IconJohn Gillis, William C Gilbert, Brian Breckin and 4 more joined Home Energy Pros
10 hours ago
Paul Scheckel posted a blog post

Energy Ambassadors: Cuba and Vermont

Last winter i had the pleasure of hosting a Cuban colleague for a week in Vermont. We toured the…See More
12 hours ago
Linda Wigington commented on David Eggleton's group 1000 Home Challenge
"Two more projects have recently been approved as 1000 Home CHallenge candidates. We welcome Eric…"
Colin Genge posted events
Craig McManus replied to Timothy Renz's discussion Vinyl batt to metal frame ware house
"How can I air seal a metal building in the south to keep out humid air which is causing mold? Will…"
Tom White posted a video
Profile IconJeshurun and Chris Woods joined allen p tanner's group

Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase

Discuss the pros and cons of the equipment you are interested in prior to purchase. Post equipment…See More

© 2015   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service