Testing your home’s sub-floor, crawlspace, and crossbeams for moisture content is very important under everyday normal conditions. It is extremely important when there has been water damage due to plumbing leaks, roof leaks, etc. It is CRITICAL when there has been extreme adverse conditions like the recent flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. In addition to testing the sub-floors, crawlspace, and crossbeams prior to re-installation, you need to have the walls and studs tested – to ensure they are dry enough to start the repair/replacement process and avoid future mold growth and product failures. You also need to make sure that the EMC (equilibrium moisture content) is achieved prior to installation of new materials. It is also CRITICAL that you find someone who is independent from the actual work being performed (and profit) to test your home.
General Contractors and Remediation Companies do not always follow proper procedure when it comes to replacing flooring, sheet rock, tile, etc. I am not saying they are all like that or even that it may be intentional, but many of them just want to get the job finished and move on to the next one. Some may not even be around when problems arise in the future. Sadly, this is probably inevitable with the sheer volume of work coming in future months in Houston. This is just another reason to hire a CERTIFIED INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL to ensure moisture levels and Equilibrium Moisture Content is achieved.
Here is a true life example and experience of what I am referring to above:
I went on three inspections for problematic wood flooring. All three were replacement flooring that was replaced due to plumbing leaks. All three were installed during the hot and humid summer months. After the second inspection, I started to notice a pattern emerging. I questioned the third homeowner more in depth about the restoration, remediation, and replacement process. I realized my assumptions were correct. The wood sub-floors in all three installations were not dried properly nor were they checked for Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) prior to replacement by the contractor. All three installations failed. Why? My opinion is improper drying, restoration, and remediation. End result – excessive moisture content and product failure.
Two of the inspections were for a Restoration Company so I questioned my Client. It was my opinion that the restoration, remediation, and drying process was not performed correctly. In these two installations, they initially only removed part of the solid wood flooring during the drying process (in close proximity to the actual leak). AFTER the drying process was completed, it was determined that all the solid wood flooring needed to be replaced. So, my question was this: “Although I find it beyond my comprehension and it makes no sense to me, do you really believe you can effectively and successfully dry out a plywood or OSB sub-floor with 3/4” solid hardwood on top of it? The answer was YES! Keep in mind that wood, plywood, and OSB react like a sponge to moisture and water.
I am not a Restoration or Remediation Expert, I am a Certified Flooring and Moisture Testing Inspector. FACT: There was no moisture testing done to determine the Equilibrium Moisture Content of the flooring and sub-floor (EMC). Moisture content of the flooring and sub-flooring was above Manufacturer recommended levels in all three installations. ALL THREE installations failed.
Excess moisture content is the NUMBER ONE reason for product failure in addition to numerous other issues. MAKE SURE YOUR HOME IS DRY AND READY for installation of replacement products PRIOR TO INSTALLATION. It’s important, REALLY IMPORTANT!