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Old 08-03-2010, 07:47 PM
 
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I'm new to the area and I just had an inspection completed in a home in the Charlotte area. The inspection report came back with mold and moisture in the crawl space and the wood floors are cupped. I'm not familiar with REAL hardwood floors or crawlspaces. Does anyone know how long it takes wood floors to cup? Also, what actions would you recommend from here? Does this mean the foundation could also be bad?

Should we pass on the home due to these problems?
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Old 08-03-2010, 08:09 PM
 
35 posts, read 137,998 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte30 View Post
I'm new to the area and I just had an inspection completed in a home in the Charlotte area. The inspection report came back with mold and moisture in the crawl space and the wood floors are cupped. I'm not familiar with REAL hardwood floors or crawlspaces. Does anyone know how long it takes wood floors to cup? Also, what actions would you recommend from here? Does this mean the foundation could also be bad?

Should we pass on the home due to these problems?

You may be able to add a dehumidifier to lower the relative humidity in the crawl space so the mold will not grow. The mold needs to be removed and reason it is occurring needs to be solved. Some of my question include: Is the ductwork sweating? Is there standing water in the crawlspace? Is plastic put over the ground? Are gutters directed away from the home? Is the home built on pier and curtain construction or does it have solid perimeter wall?

The cupped flooring may be caused by poor humidity control in the home. Wider flooring is worse. I control the humidity in our home at about 45% in the summer and 40% in the winter. This is a big problem and may indicate the absence of good moister barrier between subfloor and wood floor. Also it depends on what wood species and how the wood was cut from the tree. Is it quarter sawn or flat sawn?You should talk to expert floor person who will measure the moisture content.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 08-04-2010, 06:02 AM
 
Location: Lake Norman
224 posts, read 398,331 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte30 View Post
I'm new to the area and I just had an inspection completed in a home in the Charlotte area. The inspection report came back with mold and moisture in the crawl space and the wood floors are cupped. I'm not familiar with REAL hardwood floors or crawlspaces. Does anyone know how long it takes wood floors to cup? Also, what actions would you recommend from here? Does this mean the foundation could also be bad?

Should we pass on the home due to these problems?
Depends.

Hopefully you have a good real estate agent representing you who is already telling you all these things!! How old is the house? What is the root cause of the problems? How much is the Seller willing to repair? How much do you want it? Your decision is not really totally cut and dried. There are a lot of things to consider.

Mold is everywhere in the environment as is moisture. Damp crawl spaces are more the norm than not in this area because of the high humidity, typography and the slow to absorb clay content that makes up the soil. Did your home inspector provide you with a moisture reading for the crawl space and the supports, so you know exactly what you're dealing with? Do you know what type of mold you're dealing with? There are many kinds, some harmful and some fairly harmless. Many things can cause high moisture readings in a crawl space, from the list of items nrth mentioned above, to something as simple as the vents aren't open to provide adequate cross ventilation and a missing vapor barrier on the ground. Without a vapor barrier, the natural ground moisture wicks into the flooring and causes your cupping. You will most likely have to have further evaluation done by a waterproofing company, a mold specialist and a hardwood flooring person. The majority of these vendors will give a free estimate for repair, however, the mold person may charge for a further evaluation. Sometimes, if the floors aren't cupped too drastically, after the moisture problem is remedied, the floors dry out and may flatten a little. If they are "real" hardwoods, not laminate, they usually can be sanded and refinished to almost new quality. That's absolutely last on the list, as the cause for the cupping must be remedied first. Best of luck to you!
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Old 08-04-2010, 06:21 AM
 
2,647 posts, read 6,083,157 times
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Good advice above. I just wanted to add that in most cases, moisture under a house is a relatively straightforward fix; once a proper fix is done, you shouldn't have any more problems. It's usually either poor drainage or poor protection (e.g., missing or improperly installed vapor barrier, lack of ventilation, etc.), or a combination of both. "Straightforward" doesn't necessarily mean inexpensive though, as the repairs could range from a simple sheet of plastic to massive foundation excavation and waterproofing. So, as stated above, you need to find out what's causing the moisture, what it will cost to abate it and repair the damage, how much the seller is willing to pay. Then you decide whether it's a deal-breaker or not. Good luck!
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:25 AM
 
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You list a couple of different issues. Assuming there isn't anything unusual like a broken pipe dumping water then,

Excessive moisture and mold in the crawlspace can be caused by nothing more than the vents not being open. Generally there should be a layer of plastic over the dirt of the crawl space and proper venting to let air flow through it. The vents should only be closed during really cold weather where there is danger a pipe might freeze. It can also be caused by clogged up gutters which causes the rain to pool up around the foundation of the house.

Excessive moisture can also be caused if the builder built the house too close to the ground and/or not putting in enough vents for the space. This is a fairly regular problem in Charlotte as more recently builders do this to cut corners and it's never noticed. If you can't crawl throughout a crawl space or sit upright, your house is built too close to the ground. The only fix that I know of that works in this situation is to have the entire crawlspace coated in plastic. This is expensive.

It would be my guess that if the moisture isn't hugely bad in the crawlspace, the cupped hardwood floors were caused by a bad install, or if they were are unsealed floors (common now) they were mopped with water. In the first case, hardwood flooring should be left in the house for a couple of weeks to acclimate to the local humidity before being installed. This often doesn't happen and can result in cupping after the fact. If they were mopped then same result. This is why it doesn't pay to put hardwoods in a kitchen. Unfortunately in either case, there is no easy and cheap fix. Unless you are getting a huge discount, if the hardwoods are cupped, I would probably pass on it.
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:48 AM
 
Location: State of Being
35,885 posts, read 67,141,087 times
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Great info from all the other posters!

If the hardwoods are cupped, then you should be able to visually see this yourself and so should a hardwood installer. I personally would have an installer inspect the floors and determine the level of damage.

As LUMBOLLO said, cupping can be caused by improper mopping or water left standing on the floors for either long periods or over years. Are the hardwoods original to the house? That would be my first question. Several things could have happened - from homeowner mishandling, flooding, or improper installation. The improper installation would be a big concern to me.

If it is simply a matter of homeowner mishandling and the cupping is only in a few spots . . . it may be that the floors could simply be sanded, re-stained and finished - and no big deal. It all depends on the overall condition of the floors (and assuming these are hardwoods and not a composite product - I believe that is called "pre-engineered" - and is only a veneer of hardwood on top of some other sort of composite wood). I am no expert, but I have had hardwoods that were original to homes as well as having had hardwoods installed in three homes, so I speak from my own experience and what installers have told me.

So I would see what an installer says as far as how this can be fixed. THe problem with the excess moisture and the problem with the cupped floors MIGHT be caused by the same issue w/ moisture, or it MIGHT NOT be the same root cause. I would let someone who really knows hardwoods look at the situation and help you figure out what the expense might be. If you have to tear out all the hardwoods and rework subflooring, you are talking about a very different situation ($$$) than simply sanding/refinishing the floors in some areas.

In any case, your realtor should be working with you to decide if you should move forward with this purchase.
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Old 08-04-2010, 08:42 AM
 
35 posts, read 137,998 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lumbollo View Post
You list a couple of different issues. Assuming there isn't anything unusual like a broken pipe dumping water then,

Excessive moisture and mold in the crawlspace can be caused by nothing more than the vents not being open. Generally there should be a layer of plastic over the dirt of the crawl space and proper venting to let air flow through it. The vents should only be closed during really cold weather where there is danger a pipe might freeze. It can also be caused by clogged up gutters which causes the rain to pool up around the foundation of the house.

Excessive moisture can also be caused if the builder built the house too close to the ground and/or not putting in enough vents for the space. This is a fairly regular problem in Charlotte as more recently builders do this to cut corners and it's never noticed. If you can't crawl throughout a crawl space or sit upright, your house is built too close to the ground. The only fix that I know of that works in this situation is to have the entire crawlspace coated in plastic. This is expensive.

It would be my guess that if the moisture isn't hugely bad in the crawlspace, the cupped hardwood floors were caused by a bad install, or if they were are unsealed floors (common now) they were mopped with water. In the first case, hardwood flooring should be left in the house for a couple of weeks to acclimate to the local humidity before being installed. This often doesn't happen and can result in cupping after the fact. If they were mopped then same result. This is why it doesn't pay to put hardwoods in a kitchen. Unfortunately in either case, there is no easy and cheap fix. Unless you are getting a huge discount, if the hardwoods are cupped, I would probably pass on it.
You cannot sand cupped floors and get good results. The boards may have non-uniform moisture content. The people who say let the wood acclamate the the room "humidity" before installing are wrong. Typical room RH is between 30 and 60%. So I may pass on it also. Probably installed wrong. As a side not the wool floors in old homes used to be about 2" wide or less because of this.
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Old 08-05-2010, 06:32 AM
 
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I'm assuming you have a certain location this has occured and it is not uniform across the whole floor. I thought my cupped woodfloors were from my crawlspace. It was actually a pipe that was leaking in the wall for some time and had leaked under the floor between the boards and hardwoods. I think you'd have to have some really bad humidity to get cupping like that without it being a leak. If you can confirm that there is not a leak still occuring and let it dry out, sometimes they can return flat. I've seen it happen before in my kitchen after the leak had been repaired. You'll just have to see.

We ripped the cupped hardwoods and had them replaced. In hindsight, I would not do that again. Not that it came out bad, but I would have just dealt with the leak and left it alone to dry for a few months before doing anything to see if it would have straightened up on its own.
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Old 08-06-2010, 03:18 PM
 
3 posts, read 10,449 times
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Wow! You have a lot going on in this question. First you need to figure out what is causing the water/ humidity problem. Once the water issue is solved the cupped floors and mold will no longer be an issue. (2 options to diagnose where the water is coming from, call a plumber I recommend ER Plumbing there will probably be a service charge or have a waterproofing contractor take a look at it Dry Pro Systems did great work for me and doesn’t charge to diagnose the problem).
After the water problem is solved the mold will go dormant. In order to completely remove the mold you will need to contact a company that can cut out and clean all contaminated surfaces. I had a good experience with AdvantaClean.
I used all three of these companies when I discovered mold and water under my home. Good luck with the house.
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