I have lived in my house for 25 years and have always had oak hardwood floors. Over the last six years our wood floors are buckling in the same places every summer. We have had two plumbers to check for leaks as well as two HAVC men and nothing has been located. The only changes that have been made over the last six years is a lake approximately 200 ft from home. Any suggestions on how to get this problem resolved?
It's almost certainly a moisture problem so have you checked out things other than plumbing? I'd first be looking at your basement or crawl space. If it's a crawlspace, make sure you have a vapor barrier over every bit of the exposed earth. If it's a basement, consider installing a dehumidifier during those humid months.
The new lake could be a source of change in the water table under your house and could easily be the problem. Especially considering a trouble free 25 year history.
Thank you for your response. We have a crawl space and it has a vapor barrier. Do you have any suggestions on how we could find out to correct the problem?
You can do a simple visual check of the crawl space to determine if there is moisture there. Look for:
1. Soft soil under the vapor barrier. If your knees or hands sink in, even a little, then you have moisture there.
2. Any breaks in the vapor barrier. Especially around the perimeter or around any support columns. If you do have moisture under the barrier, a few bare spots are almost as bad as no barrier at all.
3. Mold on joists or insulation. This will often look like a fine, dark powder.
4. Check for insulation under your floor. This should have a paper face (facing up towards the floor) as an additional vapor barrier to keep moisture from your living space.
5. Also look for ventilation in the crawl space. You should have foundation vents on at least three sides of the foundation. If not you may need to add a constantly running fan to move air.
6. Check for moisture around the perimeter up against the footings of the house. This is the most likely place to collect water.
You mentioned that the floor buckling started after a new lake was made fairly close to your home. If that lake is the problem there will be some hint of moisture in your crawlspace.
Now - Going in another direction. Despite saying that the lake is the only different thing, take a few moments to think again. Inside the house - Things like a change in your heat & air system, high-humidity items like fish tanks or lots of plants, non-functioning or non used fans in bathrooms with showers can all add significant amounts of humidity to the house. Granted, the fact that your floors are buckling in the same places indicates a higher probably of the cause coming from below, but it's worth considering everything.
As to what to do - the simplest thing is to check the humidity in the house and dehumidify if it's high. This could work even if you never find the source of the moisture.
Like others who have posted your buckling hardwood floors are a result of higher humidity which is likely coming from the basement/crawl space. Jaybee's suggestion to get a dehumidifier is an excellent one. Get one that had has a good capacity and also has a digital read out whereby you can choose the level of humidity you wish to lower it too. In this way you can set it to 40% humidity and it will cycle on and off only when the humidity rises above the 40% level thus maintaining a constant humidity in the entire space and thus lower the humidity within your home. In time your floors will stabilize and return to a flat level floor. Also at the humidity level you will prevent mold and mildew from forming as these need higher levels of humidity to thrive.
Installing a dehumidifier may require you to constantly empty it every day or so unless it has a drain you can attach a hose to and run it to your sump or a floor drain in your basement/crawl space.
Others may have additional suggestion.
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