Whether it’s in your home or office, a hardwood floor adds character to every room. A wood floor is warm and welcoming, yet elegant at the same time. It goes well with any decor from rustic suburban kitchens to trendy urban lofts. A hardwood floor lends commercial office spaces, boutiques, restaurants, and display areas a luxurious, yet still comfortable feel. It’s also durable and easy to clean.
But with beauty comes responsibility
Hardwood floors can be damaged by too much moisture. Therefore, owning a hardwood floor carries with it the responsibility of monitoring ambient conditions, including temperature and relative humidity. Do your customers live in the American South or along the Eastern Seaboard? Do they like to keep their windows open during the warmer months? If so, relative humidity is going to be a factor because its rise and fall can cause wood to swell and shrink.
Monitoring the moisture condition of a hardwood floor
Hardwood floors need care if they’re going to remain in good shape for years to come. Part of that care includes monitoring ambient environmental conditions as well as the moisture content of the wood itself.
Data loggers for monitoring ambient conditions of wood floors
You performed the perfect installation. Then, at some point, the customer calls saying there are problems with the floor. Your first question will probably be:
“Have there been any changes to the ambient relative humidity or temperature?”
The customer will probably tell you there haven’t been. At this point, it’s your word against theirs. They say the ambient conditions haven’t changed. Therefore, there must be a problem with your installation.
You can avoid this unpleasant scenario by investing in one or more data loggers, an above-ground monitoring device that records changes in the ambient environment. Place them in areas you think might be susceptible to spikes in either the temperature or the relative humidity and let them go to work. They will collect data you can retrieve later in case there are problems with the installation.
The Wagner Meters Smart Logger can take up to 12,000 readings over 300 days of replaceable battery life. They’re small enough so that they can be placed discreetly, and they connect to a smart device app that will allow you to download the data later.
A data logger does two things. It shows customers you care about more than just the installation, and it also provides you with data in case problems develop later.
Moisture meters for monitoring the moisture content of wood floors
While data loggers monitor the ambient conditions surrounding the floor, pinless moisture meters are great for monitoring the moisture content of the floor itself. However, not all moisture meters are created equal. Although meter manufacturers will try to entice you with all sorts of bells and whistles, what your customers really need is an accurate moisture meter with the functions they care about.
Wagner Meters produces a full line of Orion meters that are known for their proven superior accuracy. They take simple, accurate readings but also include advanced functions like dual depth measurement and EMC calculation. They even allow you to connect the meter to smart device apps and perform a quick, on-site calibration.
Develop an action plan for moisture intrusion
You can help your customers develop an action plan for spills, leaks, and other moisture intrusion problems. This action plan should include educating the owners of hardwood floors about how to spot moisture intrusion as well as offering advice about what to do after moisture has been detected.
How to spot moisture intrusion
Moisture problems need to be spotted early. Long-standing moisture problems are a lot harder to fix and could end up costing your customers a significant amount of money.
Obvious signs of moisture problems in hardwood flooring include:
- Cupping - As the boards absorb moisture, they swell and the sides become higher than the center. Cupping gives the floor a wavy appearance.
- Crowning - This happens when the center of the board is higher than the sides.
- Buckling - Buckling is usually seen after the wood floor has been exposed to water for a long time. This causes the floor to pull away from the subfloor.
When moisture problems get this bad, they may not be that easy to fix. Therefore, it’s important to catch the problem early. Early signs of moisture problems in wood flooring include:
- Water condensation on the surface of the wood that doesn’t go away. This indicates there’s moisture in the boards. Your mission is to now find out where it’s coming from. The first thing you should do is check the relative humidity of the room.
- An odor of mold or mildew. This could be a sign there’s too much moisture in the wood. Use a moisture meter to test the floor’s moisture content.
- A discolored, splotchy finish. This is often a sign of excess moisture.
- Pests. Termites like moisture and their sudden arrival could mean the wood has a moisture problem.
You can avoid moisture problems by cleaning up spills right away and by vacuuming or sweeping frequently.
What to do if your hardwood floor has moisture damage
If your hardwood floor already has moisture damage, you should…
- Get rid of anything wet that might be covering the floor. This includes rugs, furniture, etc.
- Use a wet/dry vacuum to remove all visible moisture from the floor’s surface.
- Clean the floor’s surface well with a non-foaming disinfectant floor cleaner. This is to get rid of dirt or anything that could hold water. When you’re done, use the wet/dry vacuum again.
- Rent a professional dehumidifier, turn it on full blast, and let it run for at least 24 hours.
- Get several big fans and point them toward the floor. This will help the dehumidifier.
- If you have an air conditioner, turn it on. If the weather outside is dry, open the windows.
After you’ve done all the above, there might still be moisture in the floor. So, use a moisture meter to check the floor’s moisture content and if it’s still too high, keep the dehumidifier and fans running until the moisture content comes down.
Moisture meters allow floor owners an easy way to periodically take a quick reading and find out if their floor is at risk of moisture damage.