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  1. #1
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    Default Could this be moisture problems or structural

    Good Morning! This is my first post. I have read several of the forums so I know you guys will have an answer.

    This morning, I went on a curosity call to look at a problem that a past client was having. We inspected the house 2 1/2 years ago. Along two interior first floor rooms on opposite sides of the house the 8" base molding is separating from the top away from the wall as much as one inch. There is no mold or mildew stains present in that area. Also, the hardwood floors in the two areas are buckling up. I took a guick look under the house to find that it was dry with a vapor barrier but did not proceed further because this was just a curosity call and I had another appointment. The floor in both areas seemed to slope inwardly to probabaly where a pier is. The molding on either side of these walls is fine.

    I am thinking there could be a structural problem where the house has settled where two piers are. But that does not answer the question of the buckling floors. The whole first floor is covered in hardwood flooring and these are the only two areas in question. The floors in the bedroom which are part of the buckling problem were done two years ago. The house is 12 years old on a lake.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    Are the wood floors "cupping" or are do they have a "dome or crown" appearance?

    Did you use a moisture meter on the wood, wall, etc.

    Pictures would help!!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    The floors do have a " dome or crown" appearence. There are also no cracks between the flooring.

    I did not test the walls or the floors with a moisture meter. Thought if I have to go in the crawl space I would test then. Everything appeared dry with no mold present.

    I do have pictures of the molding that I will try to put on here.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    Is the buyer sure somebody in the house didn't cause the damage? A fish tank? Plants?

    I know it sounds crazy but I've been called out to a house for someting similar only to have someone admit they just moved a fish tank and "maybe it did spill a little bit of water"

    If the crawl space is dry and there are no signs of water intrusion from the outside (windows, siding, etc) it almost has to be something that was caused by a person inside the house. Also, you might try to rule out a leaking pipe in the wall (maybe that feeds a bathroom above or a hose bib outside).... but that seems like a stretch since it sounds like there are signs on the floor and the wall.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    I've read this a few times trying to wrap my head around it, and think I understand what you are describing.

    Quote Originally Posted by JIM MURPHY View Post
    Along two interior first floor rooms on opposite sides of the house ...
    The two rooms are not connected, nor are they near each other. They are "on opposite sides of the house".

    That means there is likely no 'common' cause for this.

    ... the 8" base molding is separating from the top away from the wall as much as one inch.
    The base is warping away from the wall at the top of the high base, but still intact with the wall at the floor.

    That indicates moisture is getting to the wood and that the base was likely only nailed to the wall at the sill plate, not near the top of the base at studs. It also indicates it could be something else (see * below).

    Also, the hardwood floors in the two areas are buckling up.
    Another indication of possible moisture at that area (not a guaranty of moisture as it could be related to the * below). The base is warping from the wall (the bottom of it is nailed tightly to only the top of the base is moving) and the floor is 'crowning', not 'cupping'. Is the floor a nailed down floor? Just thinking out loud here.

    I took a guick look under the house to find that it was dry with a vapor barrier ...
    The crawlspace was dry and the vapor barrier was covering the soil, right?

    Was there insulation above between the floor joists?

    The floor in both areas seemed to slope inwardly to probabaly where a pier is. The molding on either side of these walls is fine.
    These two rooms are on opposite sides of the house, and the floor is sloping down toward the center from both ends?

    I am thinking there could be a structural problem where the house has settled where two piers are.
    I'm tending to agree with you.

    * (from above)
    The floors are sloping because the floor structure is, the sill plate is rotating with the floor system, the base, being nailed at its bottom to the sill plate is also rotating - and because the base is 8" high, that is where you see the rotation the most.

    Sounds like it is not moisture.

    But that does not answer the question of the buckling floors.
    It might.

    If the floor system moves, the wood flooring is going to move too, in some way, and it may not be an even move. This could cause undue pressure against the floor boards from various angles pinching the boards, causing them to 'crown'.

    The whole first floor is covered in hardwood flooring and these are the only two areas in question. The floors in the bedroom which are part of the buckling problem were done two years ago. The house is 12 years old on a lake.
    One of the two rooms had the floor done 2 years ago, or both of them?

    It could be that the wood was installed over a not-flat-in-plane floor, and wood floors must have sub floors which are flat-in-plane to within 1/4" in 10 feet. Sounds like those floors are out by more than that.

    That alone could cause problems with the wood flooring staying in place.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    Quote Originally Posted by JIM MURPHY View Post
    The floors do have a " dome or crown" appearence. There are also no cracks between the flooring.

    I did not test the walls or the floors with a moisture meter. Thought if I have to go in the crawl space I would test then. Everything appeared dry with no mold present.

    I do have pictures of the molding that I will try to put on here.
    If the floors are crowning the water has come from the top. It has spilled on the floor, leaked in, or the wood was not acclimated to the house before it was installed. Yes, it could be a few other reasons but this would be the most common.

    Very hard to say if it is structural, but if the home has a history of foundation problems that is a good direction to head.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    Jerry,

    I agree with you. There could be two different issues going on here and this is a result of the sum of both.

    The floors are 3/4" X 31/4" Oak floors nailed to the sub floor. Not face nailed.The base molding was not nailed into the studs at top only at the bottom where the shoe molding is nailed. The shoe molding most likely was nailed to the flooring keeping that part of the base tight against the wall.In addition, there are no other places on this first floor that show any signs of movement. There are no cracks in the drywall and the rest of the moldings which are very extensive are fine. Just these two areas. But interesting enough, they are the two load bearing walls on either side of a large room with a very large vaulted ceiling.

    The crawl space is insulated between the joists. It has been mentioned when a CL-100 was done, the termite man mentioned that the moisture levels were high under the house but that all of the houses around this man made lake were experiencing that. Again, as I stated earlier I scanned the crawl space for moisture and mold/mildew present but did not notice any. A complete inspection of the crawl space is needed.

    I will try to post what pictures I took. Just learning how to do that.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    Also, consider interior humidity changes as a possible cause for floor problems.

    This damage at one corner of a large parquet floor was the result of HVAC failure in an aggressively conditioned space during humid summer weather:

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    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    This damage at one corner of a large parquet floor
    Very interesting. I've never seen parquet flooring installed with all of the pieces going in the same direction before. All parquet I've seen has ever-other-piece turned 90 degrees to the ones adjacent to it, creating a checkerboard effect to some extent.

    You will notice that the expansion was perpendicular to the grain (which is the way wood expands the most). Installing parquet with every-other piece turned 90 degrees reduces that expansion by half, turning half of the expansion 90 degrees from the other half of the expansion - making the parquet floor more stable and less susceptible to expansion problems ... problems like you see there.

    I'm guessing that if that parquet had been installed like parquet should have been (every-other piece turned 90 degrees), that would not have happened, at least not to anywhere near that extent.

    Also, looks to me like the wood was not stopped short enough to allow for expansion, as all wood floors should be (this just aggravated the problem created by laying the parquet turned all the same direction).

    I'm guessing that that parquet floor was installed 'tight to the walls', which is the singles biggest no-no you can do with a wood floor, other than 'install it over water' .

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    I agree with you Jerry.

    Never seen a parquet floor installed like the one in the picture. Every parquet floor I've ever seen had tongue and grove ends, which in the picture does not appear to be installed as such.

    As far as cupping of the floors in the other posts I have always found it was usually caused by some type of flooding.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Never seen a parquet floor installed like the one in the picture. Every parquet floor I've ever seen had tongue and grove ends, which in the picture does not appear to be installed as such.
    Rick,

    They would have had to have cut the tongues off to lay it that way. Which also could add to the popping up that way.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    Maybe the installation directions were missing from the material or maybe they just were not read.

    rick


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Could this be moisture problems or structural

    Could be the installation instructions were written in English or some other language foreign to the installer.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

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