Some weeks are more interesting than others, and this week I learned a whole lot about leaks in the slab, wet floors, oh my!! According to the plumber and the leak detection specialist we worked with this week, Florida and floors can be interesting.
The old saw about "don't put a wood floor in a house in Florida" is just that. Lots of houses in our area, the greater Clearwater area, are 75 - 100 years old and have beautiful wood floors. They are built with a crawl space under the house so air gets to circulate under the house and moisture doesn't get trapped and build up. Projects done right will add value to a home.
Newer construction is built on a concrete slab. Nothing wrong with that. People decide to install nice, expensive wooden floors. Nothing wrong with that either. According to our leak detection expert, and the plumber, what can go wrong is the slab may not get a sealant, or the sealant could be improperly applied, and the floor will be installed with only a moisture barrier on the concrete, then the wood floor is set on top of the moisture barrier. Again, our expert says that the moisture barrier slows the moisture from getting to the wood, but doesn't stop it. He says he is getting a significant increase in calls for "leaks" or ruined wood flooring, mostly because of the increased number of wood floors being installed, but also because so many of them are improperly installed, as far as moisture is concerned.
What should happen, is the installer should seal the concrete and let the sealant dry for a couple of days. Then it is OK to install the wood flooring. In his opinion, using a combination sealer/adhesive does not work as well and will result in damage to the floors, because the combination does not protect from moisture penetration as well as sealing the floor first and then doing the installation.
He showed me a concrete floor, that appeared dry, even to the touch. When he took a reading with his moisture meter, it maxed out on the meter. It was only a matter of time before there would be damage to the flooring installed on that slab.
Another issue the plumber pointed out, in one of our listings, is that when the house was built, the copper pipe did not have a sleeve around it where it went through the slab. This caused the pipe to rub against the concrete when the water was turned on or off, or if there was vibration. Eventually, the concrete wore through the copper pipe and voila!!, there was a leak in the slab. Good news, the homeowner purchased a home warranty. Unfortunately, the home warranty, while covering a lot of the damage, did not cover all of it and the homeowner is still on the hook for a major part of the cost of repair.
The moral of the story, is buy a home warranty. Seriously, if you are going to install a wood floor, just be sure it is done right. Don't go for cheap, pay for a little extra time, get the floors done right and they just might last a lifetime. And if they don't, a home warranty will defray the costs for repair.