Cold causing wood floor to buckle?

Q: My hardwood floors have buckled in my 1928 mountain home, due to the heater being destroyed in the basement which flooded. How can I fix them?

A: So, from your description it sounds as if the moisture is rising up from the basement, going through the sub floor, the hardwood and out. I would get dehumidifiers running, one in the basement and one on the main level and then wait it out and see if the floor will flatten back down.

Follow-up Q: The basement has been dried out for a year. I haven’t replaced the Heat A.C. unit. It’s the COLD that’s making them buckle. I don’t know how to get them to flatten out again.

A: I don’t think it is the cold that is causing your floors to buckle. Only moisture in excess can do that. I would buy a couple of hygrometers that show temperature and relative humidity. Place one in the basement and one where the floor is buckling. If you could get your hands on a moisture meter you could also test the sub floor from the basement and the floors upstairs to see what type of reading you get.

When you have a better idea what type of moisture levels you are dealing with you can decide if a dehumidifier or 2 may help. I think if you can get the floors down to acceptable limits it may flatten on it’s own. It might also help if you can remove the quarter round on the side walls to see if the floor is installed tight against the baseboard or outer walls. If it is, the floor has no room to expand. If you could cut 1/2″ off which would be hidden under the trim anyway, that would help relieve the pressure.

Related Q: This house is less than a year old. At first when my partner and I moved into this new house everything seem to be fine. A couple months later, we noticed that the hallway timber floor was starting to lift. Eventually the floor lifted quite high and some parts of the timber are starting to split. Any idea what would cause this problem?

A: There is definitely a moisture issue at play here, whether it be a leak from the bathroom or laundry room. The floor is buckling because the boards are growing due to increased moisture content. It will take some investigative work to isolate exactly where the excess moisture or water is coming from.

Similar Q: I am in a condo and the tenant above had a flood a year ago. A team came into my condo to see if there was moisture under these very expensive wood floors, and there was. Some kind of air sampling was done. They brought in 2 fans and had them going 36 hours (there was no water to “see”). Now, more than a year later, the floors are buckling. Just where they had put the fans. If I replace only some of the floor it will look goofy. Also, since so much time has lapsed do you think the upstairs tenant’s insurance will cover it?

A: I honestly don’t know but it is worth a try, as it seems apparent the problem with your floor is connected to the water from your upstairs neighbour. Do you have some type of report from when the people came in to check for moisture, affirming that their was some?