Condensation Wet wood floor

Published on September 21st, 2017 | by Henri

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Condensation on hardwood floor

Q.  We have a 1950s home that we purchased 8 years ago. We removed the carpet to reveal a hardwood floor that was in need of refinishing. We also had a weatherization audit and re-insulated the house with a combination of blown in in the attic, dense-pack in the walls, and foamed the basement sill. We have yet to refinish the floors. Here’s our issue:

When the humidity gets really bad, the wood floor, especially the area closest to the front door, gets wet. You can literally see and feel wetness in between the wood floorboards, rising from the tongues and grooves. At first we thought there might be a leak somewhere but this issue goes away when the humidity is low and is not tied to rain. I’m guessing this is somehow connected to the insulation, because we noticed this shortly after we had the insulation installed. We do run a dehumidifier in the basement. We want to refinish the floors but feel this issue needs to be addressed first unless refinishing will help seal the wood and protect it from the humidity? Any idea what to do or who best to call to help us solve this problem?

A.  If the moisture is so bad as to be so evident, you are lucky that the hardwood floor is not cupping and expanding to the point that boards are actually lifting. This tells me that the moisture you see is most likely a surface condensation problem and not coming from a high relative humidity in the basement.

Since the moisture is more evident around the front door, my guess is that the weatherization did not include a new insulated front door. Warm, moist air may infiltrate around the door, especially at the sill, and condenses on the floor surface kept cool by a cool basement and a tighter house following the weatherization.

Prior to the weatherization, the air exchange through the process of infiltration and exfiltration in the house kept the hardwood floor more in sync with the outside air, so that moisture was not condensing onto the floor.

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