You Make the Call: Reading Between the Lines (and Wrinkles)
January 24, 2006
So here's the deal: it's a week before Thanksgiving and a customer wants a re-stretch done before the out of town guests arrive. It is a five-year-old installation of carpet that has been re-stretched once maybe twice. The customer complains that the pad seams are showing, i.e. telegraphing (Photo 1). In addition there are numerous wrinkles in the connecting hallway (Photos 2-5). To make matters worse, it's my Mother and Father's home, and the repairs must be done before my sisters come in from Texas for the holiday. And you can't let Mom down EVER. So I inspect the problem and it does appear that the pad seams are telegraphing. No problem; pull the carpet up, re-tape the seams and we are out of there, right? Wrong! With the carpet pulled back we can see the lines in the pad (Photos 6 and 7) and they do not coincide with the seams. The pad seams were not taped to begin with either. So do you have enough information?
As you can see by the photos of the pad (in place), there are two very defined lines telegraphing through the pad into the carpet, but what could cause this? This is a five-year-old newly constructed home. As the pad was pulled back we then can see the culprit (Photo 8). Subfloor joints! This is usually a situation related to vinyl installation or hard surface goods. It is not a common practice to add an additional subfloor to a carpeted area to smooth out the joints in the original subfloor. The original subfloor looks like plywood from the top but what about from the bottom up? Photo 9 shows that what you see is not always what you get. A look like plywood, but it's laminated OSB in reality. Photo 10 shows the grade rating and Photo 11 shows a printed warning "WOOD SWELLS WITH MOISTURE-KEEP DRY." Well we all know that one. But what we did not know is that during the last 5 years this basement has flooded on 4 different occasions, due to problems with the battery backup sump pumps. For you on-grade slab people, this is how they keep the ground water from coming in a basement. Now I did install all the hard surface in my parents' new home five years ago but I was too busy to install the rug. So what do I do? Put down a new 1/4-inch subfloor? At this point I had to call in a favor, so I got a hold of the best installer I have ever met, Mike Hetts. He made time in his busy schedule to come out on a Sunday and I got the honor of being his helper for a day! Photos 12-15 show the finished project, but how we got there is another story. So in this issue of FCI you get a bonus: how to solve a problem shown in "You Make the Call." Thanks again for reading. Have a great day!