Lesson Learned: Extra Step for Hardwood Flooring Installation

I’ve noticed that my beautiful engineered maple hardwood floor has started to creak — pretty much from one end of the house to the other. It’s gotten hard to tip-toe through the master bedroom without waking Jim in the mornings which is a problem since he tends to wake much later than me.

A couple of weeks ago I was walking barefoot to the utility room at the back of the house and almost tripped over “nothing” right in front of my kitchen island. I put down the laundry basket and walked the floor in the area realizing I had a problem — a BIG problem. I had a speed bump in my kitchen! Really?! What now — I’m really worried about water because there’s a dishwasher, the sink and a hot water dispenser within about 5 feet of this area. I went downstairs to look at the ceiling below the kitchen and damned if there weren’t water spots. They were dry but they were visible and we’d had the ceiling repaired after the refrigerator water filter fiasco — that had been on Samsung’s dime but this one would be different… the spots appeared dry but they were pretty substantial and visible at the seams along a bulkhead that conceals ductwork down there.

We’d been in the house approximately 11 months when I found this and I know that there’s only a 12 month window to get construction-related stuff fixed without too much argument so I contacted our construction manager. Took him almost a week to get out here with HIS hardwood guy (his bid had been more than twice what we paid to our carpenter who does floors with his own “expert”) and he took moisture readings — nothing is wet in the worst area. In fact, it’s well below the average over which hardwood can be installed properly. He asked to see a sample of the flooring which I was able to provide. He deemed it “thin” — 1/2″ is widely available so I don’t know why that would be a problem…

I also showed him a piece of the underlayment we’d used for sound abatement purposes — he didn’t like it. Said he wouldn’t have nailed the floor because of it — said the floor should have only been floating. Well, floating with every flat tongue and groove glued. And he questioned whether the nails had gone in on the proper angle because if the nailing was done through the actual tongue, that could cause creaking. I know they used a proper nail gun on the floor and I know I saw glue being used. I assume it was used all the way through but now I have to get our installer back because of that and the $64,000 question:

Were the seams of the OSB subfloor sanded/planed before installing the underlayment and flooring?

Sadly, I don’t remember — and neither does the construction manager because he was only doing his usual “fly-bys” rather than actually overseeing the work. I “think” they were but I just don’t know.

What I am sure of is that the OSB subfloor was absolutely soaked for weeks on end during the building process but it was tested for moisture before the flooring was laid. It passed just fine. Still, my brand new house is sounding like it’s older than it is. And even though I know the floor to be solid it gives the impression of a lesser quality job having been done. In my head, here’s what I think is going on:

  • The seam between the two abutting pieces of OSB under the speed bump was probably NOT sanded and has for some unidentified reason, decided to swell even though we’ve had AC on all summer long to keep the humidity down to a very low level. Why else would it swell now? Especially when the heavy-duty moisture meter indicated that it’s basically bone dry there?
  • That probably means that none of the seams was sanded and that this kind of heaving could happen again anywhere in the house.
  • The heaving is pushing the hardwood in all directions, making it rub against it’s neighbors which would cause the creaking.
  • I bet that it can be made better by ripping out the flooring in the area of the speed bump, sanding down the seam (assuming that that IS what’s under the bump) and reinstalling the flooring. I have several more boxes of material out in the garage even after the refrigerator problem ate a bunch of it up last year.
  • This would be a HUGE mess and a large undertaking. Noisy, dusty and disorganizing…
  • If we don’t take the big steps necessary to fix this, I’m going to be irritated about it forever.

So I will be trying to reach our installers again and if they aren’t available (they’re working on the other side of the county now and it’s just 2 guys) I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get another hardwood guy in here to see about taking care of it.

I hate it when this stuff creeps up… :(  Will post later about what the solution and remediation turns out to be.

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The First Snow of “Forever”!

After a winter that was, relatively speaking at least, too warm — it’s finally here! The big, white fluffy stuff is coming down pretty steadily now and is likely to continue for the next couple of days. Jim just saw a snowplow out on Issaquah-Fall City Road a few minutes ago — of course it won’t come into our subdivision because they think it’s still under construction and no one lives here yet. Right!

Here are some pictures (would have gotten better ones but that would have required shoes, socks and a coat!):

First Snowfall of 2012 on back deck

 

 

Back of Kids' House Viewed from Front PorchSnowfall viewed from front porch

 

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More HVAC Adventures… Another Mishap…

The kids stayed with us for about a week around the Christmas holiday because their refrigerator’s water filter housing cracked and ruined their kitchen floor (what is it with this family and refrigerator water filters?!). When they went home, Ariane stripped the bedding from the bed they slept in and I did laundry. So last Thursday night I went to the basement to make up the bed after washing the sheets. So far, so good…

I walked over to the far wall to pick up the comforter and pillows from the floor where they were piled and stepped in a freezing cold, squishy wet carpet. Crap — what is it this time??? Continue reading

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Christmas Goodies – Almond Buttercrunch Candy!

Recipe for Almond Buttercrunch CandyI was soooooo lethargic about baking and decorating for the holidays while we were ensconced in the apartments we had while building our house. Now that I have a fully functional kitchen again, I feel like diving back in!

Here’s the recipe for Almond Buttercrunch Candy that I’ve made for years. If you like Almond Roca, you’ll love that you can make this in your own kitchen too! It’s quick to make, doesn’t take a candy thermometer and is a welcomed gift by all who receive it!

ALMOND BUTTERCRUNCH CANDY

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups crushed almonds
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups (or so) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Note: (don’t double the recipe because it gets unwieldy!)

  1. Line a cookie sheet or 9×13 pan with foil and butter it (you could, alternatively, spray it with cooking spray but that can affect the flavor if the spray is a little aged!)
  2. In a medium saucepan (go for a heavier one rather than a lightweight one!) melt the butter, salt, vanilla and sugar.  Let it cook, stirring constantly, for five minutes or more — you’re looking for it to be toffee-colored and almost smoking hot!
  3. Pour the hot mixture onto the prepared foil — it should spread out evenly. Tilt the pan a little if you find that it’s pooling in any single area.
  4. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and spread them as they melt. Push chocolate clear to the edges of your hot candy — try to be even.
  5. Spread the crushed almonds across the heated/wet chocolate — again, try to be even in coverage. Don’t wait even a few minutes to do this step because hardened chocolate will just bounce the almonds right off and the idea is to make these stick so your hands don’t get gooey when you eat the candy!
  6. Set the pan aside and let it cool. I like to let mine sit overnight on the cooktop grates so that the chocolate has a chance to re-solidify and grab hold of the almonds. The air circulating under the pan speeds up the setting, I think!
  7. Once cool, break into pieces.

Store the Buttercrunch in an airtight container or wrap individual gift portions in cellophane bags, gladware holiday containers or Christmas mugs wrapped in pretty paper. Your choice!

Hope you enjoy this Almond Buttercrunch candy! It’s so quick to make that I usually end up doing 3 batches and give it to people I like! :-)

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First Photos of Kitchen

So, lots of people have been asking for pictures of our kitchen with its Cliqstudios cabinets… truth be told, I’m still using the island as my unpacking station so I only have one side of the kitchen in photo ready shape. Without further adieu, here is the cooking wall of our kitchen!

View of Kitchen Cooking Wall from Sink area

Continue reading

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Unseemly Behavior by Electrical Contractor

I’m actually pretty tired of whining but I will continue so, hopefully, someone else won’t suffer the same problems we did. Another last minute invoice of astronomical proportions fell out of our construction manager’s hands and onto my coffee table. This time it was from the electrician.

Crux of the issue: they included generator installation in their bid and then proceeded to be “confused” by the Generac 5887 20 kW units and 2 5449 GenReady service panels. Confused is probably not the correct word for it… they billed for 16 hours of installation time! Now I’m confused: I have to pay for their learning curve on standard off-the-shelf equipment that they agreed to install as part of their bid?! Continue reading

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That “Icebox” Feeling is Subsiding!

Last Friday morning, the mechanical guy came and relocated our thermostat! YAY! Now, instead of being around 6-7′ away from the oven, it’s in the front hallway near the entry door. I figured it was better to use the colder hallway as the “trip” for the thermostat since it’s closer to the master bedroom where Jim spends much of his time.

The difference was noticeable almost immediately! I have been able to notch back the temperature from 73 to 70 and the bedroom stays nice and warm now!

On the negative side, I asked for instructions on how to properly maintain the electronic air cleaners that are attached to each of the furnaces and we discovered that they’re just sitting there! They have no electrical connection to either the furnace or to any outlets. Guess that explains what the problem is that causes there to be fluff all over my nice hardwood floors!

Waiting now for a call back from the dispatcher to send over an electrician to run the pigtail from the furnace to the cleaner units so we can breathe fresher air AND get what we’ve already paid for!

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