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Question DetailsAsked on 8/16/2016

Who should i call to come do diagnosis and repair water damaged floor?

We have water damage on the hardwood floor in the living room. The impacted areas are where the hardwood boards meet the dry wall/shoe molding which is facing the backyard (not a shared dry wall). Moisture can be seen in between the gap of shoe molding and the floor. Our home is a townhouse sitting on concrete slab so what's underneath the hardwood is just concrete. The wall itself and the moldings are good and there's no sign of damage. Not sure what could cause the water/moisture to accumulate there.

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5 Answers

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Hmmmm - if you jab the drywall behind the toekick/baseboard and it is dry, and the plate (horizontal 2x along the bottom of the wall) is not wet or visibly wet looking, then pretty much has to be coming from the slab. Rule out exterior wetting and you are stuck with a leaking in-slab heating system, or water coming up through the slab under the hardwood, escaping around the perimeter of the hardwood and condensing at that point where it hits the cold air conditioning air, as you suspected.

1) look to see if you have a vapor barrier under the hardwood - if not, could well be ground moisture coming up through the concrete as vapor diffusion (can equal 5 gallons a day or more on a bare concrete basement slab) and wicking along the bottom of the hardwood - either to a low point, or just all around the perimeter to open airspace where it can evaporate. This can be particularly true with hardwood floors with a multi-layer (usual) urethane or similar clear coat, which acts as a vapor barrier above the wood.

2) try taping a cardboard deflector or a sheet or such to the ceiling A/C register so the air if directed to another place along the floor and see if the condensation then occurs there - if so, that would be a pretty fair confirmation.

3) you could also rent a moisture meter at a tool rental place or Home Depot (though leaves a couple of prong marks in the flooring - do it at joints) to check the moisture level in the wood - if over about 9-10% (you can compare with wood trim well above the floor for comparison) or you have significant variation across the floor area, then likely a moisture issue coming from the slab.

4) You could, at an edge NOT showing condensation now, put a piece of plastic (visqueen or dry cleaners plastic bag or flattened out kitchen garbage bag for instance masking tapes (NOT duct tape on finished floor) and let it sit for a day and see if moisture accumulates on the underside of the plastic - if so, pretty much has to be coming up from below the flooring, especially if this occurs at interior walls.

5) Of course, if the moisture is coming from exterior sources into the edge of the slab, then will occur only at exterior walls. Ditto if you have warm humid air coming into the house through the base of the wall (say they did not put down weatherstrippiong or caulk before laying down the bottom wall plate), which could then condense when it hits the much cooler inside air in summer. Could be stripping off the base molding along the exterior wall(s) and caulking the concrete/plate interface could stop that source, if that is the problem.

6) Another possible solution - though obviously pricey if not a DIY job or if not a removeable snap-lock wood, is if there is no vapor barrier under the floor (there should have been with any slab-on-grade concrete slab covered with a floating type floor), pull it up and put down vapor barrier properly sealed at the perimeter.

Which the problem is may take a bit of investigating - use of a thermal infrared camera or cell phone with a camera thermal enhancement app to look at the floor to see moisture differences might help too - or might not if it is caused by uniform vapor diffusion through the concrete as opposed to localized intrusion or actual free water leakage.

My sympathies - this is one of those sort of issues which can be hard to track down and diagnose.

Professionally - Home Inspector, Energy Auditor, or some Insulation contractors for thermal infrared scan (might be worth having them run the entire house at same time for insulation/leak issues and give you a tape/thumb drive with the scan results for maybe not a lot more than just looking at the flooring issue). Flooring contractor for flooring moisture testing and/or pulling it up and putting down vapor barrier.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Here is a link to a similar issue which might help -

If wet all the time, then leaking water pipe, drain pipe, infloor heating loop, or if back yard is boggy, water coming in over top of slab.

If only after rains, could be roof leak coming down wall (fairly rare), overlying siding or window flashing leak, splash or pooling at the slab from roof runoff or gutter overflow or downspouts not carrying runoff away from the house; or yard runoff moving towards the house. See above leak for tracking it down. You could also carefully pull a molding off at the wet spot, and hopefully in a place where the molding will cover the hole, put a finger sized hole in the wall just above the bottom plate (bottom horizontal 2x4 or 2x6 in the wall) - so typically 1.5-2 inches above subfloor plywood for bottom of the hole, and feel inside to see if the insulation is wet or puddling in there - if so, then since you are not getting flooded in rains it has to be coming down inside the wall from above somewhere.

If none of above, look for a sprinkler hitting the house or saturating the area along the slab perimeter.

Since you say the hardwood is undamaged, sounds like a minor leak at this time, so good time to track it down before it gets out of hand.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Update-> So we took out the quarter round molding in the impacted area and saw the floor was actually sweating in the area covered by molding.. It's dry in the gap between the tip of hardwood board and the dry wall. The moisture seems to sit on top of the floor. We were guessing could it be the AC temp was too low and the cool air condensed there (there's a vent on the ceiling above the impacted area)? Is this possible?

Answered 3 years ago by audreyywq


Thanks for replying LCD! The hardwood floor WAS damaged. The wall and moldings are fine. We've taken out the molding and saw moisture condensed on top of the floor (the boards are "sweating" along the molding. Can it be due to the AC constantly blows cool air towards this area?

Answered 3 years ago by audreyywq


Answered 3 years ago by audreyywq



This is James W. in Member Care. Thanks for your interest in Angie's List!

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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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