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 Post subject: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:55 am 
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Last summer I bought a new house in Redmond, Washington. The builder is Camwest (http://www.camwest.com/). I have roughly 1000 square feet of solid wood birch flooring installed on the first floor of the house. The specific wood flooring product is here (http://www.kentwoodfloors.com/ca/origin ... ucts/30230). The installation was a nail down over OSB, and Camwest subcontracted the installation out to a company called "Floor Craft". I'd give more details, but I don't know anything about construction. :oops:

A few months after the house was finished being built, certain areas of the hardwood floor started to make crackling noises when walked on. I figured that it was no big deal since it was only in a few areas of the floor. After approximately 6 months since the house was finished being built, the every part of the floor made a crackling noise when walked on. At that point, I had my wife contact the builder.

The builder dropped by and quickly noticed that this wasn't just a few boards squeeking, and so they scheduled for the installer to come out and take a look. Another week later, the installer drops by and says that it might be defective wood, so they scheduled for the wood distributor to come take a look (http://www.metrofloors.com/). Yet another week goes by, and the wood distributor drops by and takes a look. The distributor is amazed by the amount of crackling. He performed an inspection using magnets in order to estimate where nails were, he looked at the cross section of the floor via the heating vents on the floor. He checked humidity and temperature. The distributor said that they'd put a report together. A month goes by and another representative of the distributor comes out and does yet another inspection... repeating the same measurements.

The distributor verbally told my wife that temperature and humidity were within the specified ranges for the product.

A couple more weeks go by and then the builder contacts my wife and tells her that humidity is too low, that the crackling noise that our floor makes when walked on is a normal part of a house settling, and that we should wait until the 1 year walk through of our house... which coincidentally is also when the warranty on the house expires. The builder also forwarded the wood product distributor's inspection. I will copy-paste the full report into the post immediately below this one.

I need advice because I am not an expert. I am just a home buyer. None of the other floors in our neighborhood have this problem. No matter where you walk on the hardwood floor, each step makes a crackling noise. I am afraid that I won't be able to sell my house several years down the road, unless I replace the hardwood floor. It doesn't seem acceptable for the builder to simply tell me to live with it. I paid good money for the house! What should I do? Should I pressure the builder to fix the problem? Should I get an independent inspector to identify the root cause of the noise?

The builder still has roughly 10 more houses to sell in our neighborhood. I'd figure that they'd at least want to maintain a good reputation within the neighborhood, otherwise a billboard in front of a new home owner could convince prospective home buyers that Camwest is not a reputable builder.


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:05 am 
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As promised, below is the distributor's inspection report. This is just a copy-paste of the MS Word format of the report, so you can't see the "NWFA certified professional wood flooring inspector" logo. This inspector's report seems to suggest that pulling a couple of boards is necessary in order to completely check whether or not the installation was performed correctly.

Code:
3/29/2011         Inspection Statement & Summary Report #586a

Dealer:             F C Commercial
Attn:                                      Rex Witherspoon
Product:                                KentWood Yellow Birch Cumberland # 30622
Customer Concern:             Floor is ‘popping’

Inspection observations:   by Keith Cudmore   
Inspected on    3/2/11
House Temperature:       70.5F at floor level, 74.4F at table top height
House Humidity:          36.3% at floor level, 32.4% at table top height
Flooring Moisture Content (MC):       4.9 – 7.2%
The temperature of the hardwood floor was 70.4 – 71.6F.
The flooring has ‘popping’ sounds are over the whole installed areas in varying degrees.
The nailing pattern is varied – generally too many staples in some boards while the nailing from the ends of the boards is inconsistent.
The floor was racked or layed out very well.
The floor was installed tight to the exit doors.
There is vertical deflection of the boards in some areas of the floor that seem to run from the front of the house to the back of the house – parallel with the direction of the installed flooring.
The floor is installed parallel to the ‘truss-joists.
The floor was installed using 15.5 gauge stables of indeterminate length.

Conclusion:   
The home temperature is within industry standards but the house humidity in general is to low
The MC of the flooring is low which could cause excess movement between the boards.
The vertical deflection appears to be between the joist structure that is running parallel with the direction of the flooring. The direction of the floor was ascertained by viewing the floors joists from the access to the crawl space in the front hall closet. There are many ducts that are visible in this area so determining the direction was difficult but photos show the joist running from the front of the house towards the rear of the house.
The deflection in the floor is causing the creaking and squeaking as the floor moves up and down. Without a destructive test on the flooring – a couple of boards – it is not possible to determine if the staples have been loosened from the subfloor or if the length of the staple is the correct length to adequately fasten the hardwood to the subfloor.
There are no manufacturing defects with this hardwood floor product and no claim will be opened.



       Keith Cudmore
      Manager of Technical Services




Edited by admin. No phone number allowed


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:32 am 
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Location: Knoxville,Tn
Its against nofma standards to run the floor parallel to the floor joist. Your floor was installed in the wrong direction. Some one screwed up good.

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Heartland Hardwood Flooring
Knoxville, Tn
www.HeartlandHardwoodFlooring.com


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:08 am 
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No one said how many layers of OSB, could be two. Look in a vent. If two layers total of 1 inch or more then it would be OK to run parallel . Besides, that rule is mostly about sagging between joists and not the floor coming loose. :shock: :mrgreen:

On another note, temp and rh is within range for winter. What was it at time of installation?

Speaking of winter, when was this floor installed? Ten bucks says the BUILDER never had any hvac running before, during the install. Course then they always play the installer screwed up game. OSB was probably rained on for months and not protected.

How can he determine the width of staple and not length, or even if it is a staple without destructive field test? "inconsistent fastening"? How many is to close? How many is to less? He needs to put that in numbers.

Quote "The floor was installed tight to the exit doors." No comment :mrgreen:

I don't like that report at all. Pretty typical hired gun report.

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Stephen Perrera
Top Floor Installation Co.
Tucson, Arizona
Floor Repairs and Installation in Tucson, Az
http://www.tucsonazflooring.com


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:45 am 
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The house was built in the Spring of 2010 and finished around June 2010. The inspection was done late February 2011. Being Redmond, Washington, it rains all the time here. So I am sure that there was a period of time where the subfloor was being rained on since I remember visiting the house while it was being built and seeing the OSB subfloor laided down so the builders could walk around. However, I am sure that the roof and walls were installed before the hardwood panels were nailed down.

One thing that bothered me about the installation is that running straight down the center of the first floor is one of the main joists for the house, and the hardwood floor panels are slightly pyramided up because they are sagging to either side of that joist since they were laid parallel with the joist.

Looking at my next neighbor's house, the panels were installed perpendicular to the floor joists. His house was built a month after mine, and his floor has no problems.

I am leaning towards trying to get the builder to agree that we have an independent inspector come in and determine the cause of the noise and movement of the floor. (I didn't mention, but if you walk on the hardwood floor in bare feet, you can feel the panels move ever so slightly, in addition to hearing them crackle and pop.) I don't want to have to come to this, but if the builder is going to stonewall me... what other option do I have? Does anybody know a way to find good floor inspectors in the Seattle, Washington area?

If you guys could arm me with a laundry list of things to either check or ask the builder, in order to scare the builder into fixing the bad floor, I'd really appreciate it.


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:02 pm 
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I doubt in a new house there is 1" of subfloor but who knows. Dont think its a manufactures problem thats why your claim to them was denied. Its whoever had the bright idea to run the flooring the wrong direction. CHeck the NWFA site for the specs, if your builder is worth his weight he will not have an argument. ITs basically common sense imo that the floor should be laid perpendicular to the floor joist duh. I did have a customer with a similar situation a few years back. What they ended up doing was going underthe house and cross blocked all the floor joist to stiffen it up.

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Heartland Hardwood Flooring
Knoxville, Tn
www.HeartlandHardwoodFlooring.com


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:47 pm 
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I just got off of the phone with the builder. He said that he wanted to wait until the summer, in order to see if the increased temperature and humidity make the problem go away. I am skeptical for 2 reasons: (i) this floor is moving allot, and (ii) the builder has been investigating the issues with my floor since January... waiting is just a delay tactic to kick the can down the road.

If I can't get the builder to agree to an independent inspection, then I will have to move to the next phase: shame the builder. I can get a custom billboard made and put up in my front lawn, so that every potential buyer that checks out the neighborhood will be scared away from buying a Camwest home. Think of it as an "open model house of horrors", except it is my house. I just have to make sure that the sign is simplistic enough to get the point across. Hopefully that will get the the builder to realize how expensive screwing the customer can be.


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:12 pm 
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I called the builder back and made one last push for an independent inspector. He agreed, so now I have to find a good inspector that is going to be capable of finding the root cause of the noise & movement. Any suggestions on how to find a wood flooring inspector that will actually be able to find the problem?


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:20 pm 
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check the NWFA consumer site for inspectors...you dont need the builders approval for that...you are entitled to have YOUR floor inspected by a certified pro...this report will be gospel in any legal venue....

i have read your issue and it is hard to say, but know there are and have been milling and manufacturing issues..its possible the tongue and grooves may not be milled correclty and have to much play.

since there is so much movement, i wouldnt be too quick to say that tongues are split,cuz no one would split everyone..

i tend to blame the species, and installation procedures..possibly rushed...acclimation periods, wet underlay, etc.

cracking and popping is normally undernailed...and then acclimation after the fact..the floor needs to be walked ot after a fresh install..very tight form nailing..

i would be very curious to fnd out the determinations..

google NWFA...then put in a submission i believe it is NWFA.org...or.com....
1 is for members, and the other is for consumers..

dont be malicious..it will get you nowhere..be calm, be armed,educated...and speak softly..
you will get further with a pro evaluation condeming the install..rather than your billboard..which could be considered slander/libel.
if the floor fails, it fail..period..then the builder/installer have to do theri thing under homeowner warranty..
if not..you go to the state building dept and file a claim...


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:07 pm 
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Location: Tucson AZ
What a shame you have to go through this. It's tough times out there and most installers will do what ever it takes to make some money. Even putting up with builders who are in a rush to get things done.

I'd ask the builder why he let them install like that. Why no one noticed the sag in the subfloor between joists. Even if they ran it perpindicular, with that amount of sag you might see it anyway. I find it hard to believe they installed on one layer of weathered OSB. But hey, builders always want to save a buck. Maybe the installers asked and were denied. I've seen two layers of rain soaked/weathered OSB sag if the joists were farther than 16" on center.

People have to realize that in new construction...subs do what the builder says to do, period. Only the bukler rarely puts that in writing, why? Think about it.

I wish people would take the builders to task instead of always blaming the subs cus they have no say in what goes on new construction sites.

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Stephen Perrera
Top Floor Installation Co.
Tucson, Arizona
Floor Repairs and Installation in Tucson, Az
http://www.tucsonazflooring.com


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:18 pm 
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I don't want to get malicious, but with the builder telling me that the floor is not covered by the warranty and the fact that they want me to wait another 3 months before discussing the issue further... I am getting very worried that I was sold a lemon.

Like I said, I got Camwest to agree this morning to follow the guidance given by an independent inspector. If the independent inspector says that it is a humdity/temperature issue, then I agreed that I would pay the cost of the inspection. Otherwise, if the independent inspector finds that the issue is due to the wood or the installation, then the builder will pay the inspection costs and fix the issue (by getting the installer or manufacturer to fix the problem). If Camwest follows through with this agreed plan, then I will have allot of respect for them as a builder. I understand that nothing is perfect, sh*t happens, etc... but what seperates the good builders from the bad is whether or not they make things right in the end... or if they simply try to stick the buyer with the bill.

Regarding the subfloor, the builder said that it is 3/4" OSB. So if the hardwood flooring was installed parallel to the joists, is that alone an installation issue? Is it a universal fact that 1" or thicker subfloor is required for a proper install when the flooring is installed parallel to the joists?


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:28 pm 
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Whats the spacing on your floor joists? I cannot believe the "NWFA inspector" did not include that in his report. I would be embarrassed to put my name on that POS. Cuse my language but he missed alot in his report.

See what happens when you let anyone inspect floors they have obviously not ever installed. Even his lingo is not correct. :evil: .

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Stephen Perrera
Top Floor Installation Co.
Tucson, Arizona
Floor Repairs and Installation in Tucson, Az
http://www.tucsonazflooring.com


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:16 pm 
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I've decided to humor the builder and run a humidifier all day into order to increase the humidity so that it is near the higher end of the tolerance range as opposed to the lower end. However, I only have a very small humidifier that I used for my infant son a couple years ago, so I am not sure if I will be able to increase the humidity enough. After running the humidifier all day, the hardwood floor doesn't seem any different and it still makes the same noises and the planks still move.

What is the proper way to increase the moisture content of the wood? How much does a tool cost, for measuring the moisture content of my hardwood floor? Where can I buy such a device?


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:56 pm 
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Just google wood moisture pin meters. Anything below a hundred bucks is not a pro model.

To get the moisture content up you need a whole house portable humidifier. Maybe two depending on the size of your house. It could take weeks.

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Stephen Perrera
Top Floor Installation Co.
Tucson, Arizona
Floor Repairs and Installation in Tucson, Az
http://www.tucsonazflooring.com


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 Post subject: Re: New Construction, crackling noise, slight movement of planks
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:49 pm 
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Just a few updates for sake of being transparent. I've contacted a few other inspectors in the area, and they encouraged me to give the original inspector a call in order to get him to come to a more definitive determination as to the root cause of the problem. I called the original inspector and he was willing to send somebody out to perform a few destructive tests in order to: (i) measure staple length, (ii) check of staples have pulled away from the subfloor, and (iii) determine if there is deflection in the subfloor.

If the issue is staple length, then that is an install issue.

If the issue is staples pulling away from the subfloor, then that is either an installer issue or a builder issue depending on the cause (wet OSB versus deflection in the subfloor).

If the issue is deflection in the subfloor, then that is a builder issue.


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