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.