Help: wood is cupped is it installer problem?

tad731August 25, 2011

I am having an issue with my 4" Somerset maple floor and am looking for any advice on where to proceed from here. Long story short, the flooring is cupping pretty badly, splitting in some areas. In an effort to rectify the problem, we have installed a dehumidifier and fans in the crawl space. Our home is new construction and there was probably quite a bit of moisture under there since much of the water drained under the house prior to the installation of the gutters. Indeed, it remains wet in one corner of the house, about 10 feet from the subfloor (it is a tall crawl space). Anyway, the humidity has been around 60% for a month now and the floors are no better. We had a rep from the distributor come to our house yesterday and he said that the subfloor is at 14% moisture. So, we know the crawl space is humid and are working to fix it. Here's the question. This floor was installed in June '11. It probably was wet under there at the time of installation and although the contractor had spread some plastic but not 100% of the area was covered. Here is the kicker...there was not vapor barrier put under the hardwood floor and the installer admits that he did not take any moisture readings at the time of installation. We think our floors might not be in such a shape had the installation been done properly. I don't want to take somebody to court because I certainly hope that we can take care of it by other means. However, I'm afraid that I will at least have to threaten court for them to do something. Opinions? Experiences with this? I'm thinking that without a vapor barrier, we will always have issues with the floor cupping (even if it goes down this winter) simply because I live in Kentucky and the summers are very humid.

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clg7067

It would have been nice if the installer took an extra step to look for moisture issues, but it's not something I would expect from an average installer.

There are companies that do an excellent job at sealing the entire crawlspace, not just throwing some plastic on the ground. Check out the photos on this page.

(I'm not endorsing this company, it's just an example.)

You might get lucky and have the wood return to normal after some time with a dehumidifier in the crawlspace. But it sounds like you already have some damage from splitting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Crawlspace Vapor Barrier

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 4:16PM
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Floortech

If the installer did not take moisture readings, he is not an installer! An average installer takes the readings as it is a vital part of installation. Acclimation is probably the most critical step of any install. My company takes moisture readings and documents them for the consumer and the installation team. Never an exception or people are terminated. That is how critical it is!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 12:20AM
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brickeyee

If you have water in a crawl space get that rectified as fast as you can.

It may take months for the flooring to dry out.

All the acclimation in the world is not going to help a wet crawlspace pouring water vapor into the house and floor.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 10:59AM
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Floortech

The moisture readings would have indicated that a major problem exists!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 5:50PM
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tad731

Thanks for all of the helpful responses. Don't forget that he did not lay a moisture retarder either. I think that it is safe to say our installer is at fault for this situation. What can we expect from here? Should he replace the floor? Can we take action against him?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 9:32PM
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inspector

Tad it isn't recommended to put a vapor barrier between the floor and subfloor in a crawlspace installation. Reason being is if there is humidity beneath the crawlspace then the subfloor is going to expand and move the wood floor in a panelized effect anyway. The vapor barrier should go on top of the ground under the crawlspace. It should cover 100% and it should be black plastic not clear. Black plastic keeps any vegetation from growing under the barrier. Get that covered and keep running the dehum unit until it is bone dry under there. Only after it is dry and you've given the wood floor 2-3 months to relax can you attempt a fix. Anything prior to that and you could cause additional problems. Call me if you want to go over it. Sam at Real Wood Floors 877.215.1831

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 9:59AM
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brickeyee

"Don't forget that he did not lay a moisture retarder either."

Not advised anyway.

"I think that it is safe to say our installer is at fault for this situation."

"Indeed, it remains wet in one corner of the house"

I think you are just as much at fault for not having a dry crawl space.

"What can we expect from here? Should he replace the floor? Can we take action against him?"

Anyone can sue anyone.

You would not have been any happier if he had refused to even lay the floor until you fixed your wet crawl space.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 12:32PM
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Floortech

Brickeye..I agree with you. I recently had a customer tear out carpet in preparation for the Hardwood Install. When we went to take acclimation reading, we found that the sub floor was particle board. We stated we can not lay over the particle board and the customer want to sue us? You can not win in today's consumer volatile hostile temperament. They get mad at you when you protect them and then they get madder when you do not!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 9:07PM
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floorguy

The installer, did not communicate with the builder, and most importantly he did not own a good accurate wood moisture meter

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 6:12PM
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