Monday, February 17th, 2020 by Erin Dougherty
Buckling, cupping, and crowning hardwood floors are a result of high moisture and humidity in the crawl space and your home. Wood naturally expands and contracts based on the environment it is in. As the wood absorbs moisture, it expands resulting in your floors buckling. In the winter, as the air dries out and there is less moisture in your crawl space, your floors may settle down some, but they will not return to level.
Moisture in the subfloor is a major contributor to these issues and comes from the crawl space. Air and moisture are allowed into your crawl space through open vents. In the summer, warm humid air enters through open vents, the ground, and porous block walls and mixes with slightly cooler air. Cooler air holds less moisture than warm air, so as the warm air cools down, it begins to give up its moisture. This results in condensation on block walls, joists, and ductwork. Moisture and condensation collect in the insulation under your floors, holding moisture against the joists and subfloor.
Hardwood floors are greatly impacted by how humid or dry the air around them is. In your home, you may experience humidity, musty odors, and notice your floors buckling, cupping, or crowning. These are signs of a bigger problem occurring in your crawl space that is affecting your living space.
Protecting your hardwood floors means controlling the relative humidity (RH) in the environment. We do this by encapsulating or conditioning the crawl space. Sealing, insulating, and dehumidifying the crawl space allows us to keep air carrying moisture out and control the RH. We achieve this by isolating the crawl space from the earth’s moisture with the installation of the CleanSpace Encapsulation System.
The CleanSpace Encapsulation System includes a heavy-duty CleanSpace Vapor Barrier sealed to the blocks and the crawl space walls, and sealing all vents, the rim and band, and sill plate. We then install a continuous R-10 of insulation on the foundation walls leaving a 2-inch viewing strip and insulate behind the crawl space door. This keeps as much air carrying moisture out of the crawl space as possible but does not control the RH. To keep relative humidity below 60%, the point at which mold can grow, we install a SaniDry Sedona Dehumidification System. This dehumidifier is programmed to kick on when the RH in the crawl space gets too high, controlling the moisture in the air. With each SaniDry Sedona Dehumidification System, we include a hygrometer, that allows the homeowner to monitor the relative humidity in their crawl space and in their home to ensure the system is functioning properly.
Controlling and monitoring the relative humidity in the crawl space and in your home will help protect your hardwood floors from further cupping, buckling, or crowning. While a CleanSpace Encapsulation System will not return your floors to their original, level, state, it will protect them from further damage, and create the proper environment if you choose to refinish your floors.
If you’re planning on installing hardwood floors or if your floors are buckling, you likely have an issue with high humidity in your crawl space. Before you refinish or install new hardwood floors, give us a call at 1-757-566-8622 or 1-757-566-8622 for a free crawl space inspection. Our experienced Home Performance Advisers will measure the relative humidity in your crawl space and check the wood moisture content of your joists.