hardwood floor issues

Do I Have a Foundation or a Flooring Problem? Hardwood Floor Issues

You live in a home with a pier and beam or block and base foundation — a crawlspace foundation type. Suddenly this summer, your lovely hardwood floors are popping up in the middle and making what looks like a speedbump in the middle of your floor. What. In. The. World.

This strange occurrence in your home has you really nervous that it is foundation-related, so you’re searching online for answers. Good call.

Anchor Foundation Repair

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we get at least a few calls on this very issue every year and know what is happening here. We can assure you that it is NOT a foundation issue. But it’s still an issue we can help advise you on because we know you want to get it handled.

We usually get calls like this in the winter, but here lately we have been getting a good number of calls because of some unusual weather conditions this year. 

This seems to be happening to a number of people in the Bryan, College Station, and Brazos Valley area so we thought that it would be a good time to talk about it in case it’s happening to others in the community.

Signs You Are Seeing In Your Hardwood Floors

flooring problem or foundation problem

Your hardwood floors are doing strange things kind of out of nowhere. This is something that happens within a short period of time and floors can go from looking lovely and normal to having some severe symptoms that cause homeowners to worry.

  • Individual boards are cupping and are higher on the edges than in the middle
  • Two boards popping up to create a “tent” in the floor
  • Several boards bowing up like a speed bump in the middle of the floor
  • Boards warping and popping off of the subfloor

What is Causing this Problem with My Wood Floors? Is it My Foundation?

The signs listed above are not traditional signs of foundation problems. Diagonal cracks coming off of door and window frames, doors that don’t latch or lock properly, and trim separations are signs of foundation issues. We have an article that details all the top signs of foundation issues and floor problems are not one of them.

signs of foundation issues

So, this flooring issue is not a sign of a foundation problem, it’s a moisture/drainage problem combined with outside heat and air conditioning that causes damage to your flooring. That’s a lot of situations working together to mess up your house, so let me break it down for you.

Why is this floor problem happening?

First, you have excess moisture and water under your home in the crawl space area between the ground and the floor. It has been raining a lot this summer, way more than normal (like one of the wettest summers in BCS history).

Next, it’s hot (in case you forgot) so you are running your air conditioner a lot as Texans do. We love our A/C and aren’t afraid to use it!

So it’s hot outside and excessively and unusually wet under your crawl-space home at the same time. What happens when you run the air conditioner is that moisture gets drawn up with considerable force from under your home and causes the flooring to buckle and pop.

It can be even worse for floors that have a floating laminate layered on top of hardwood. The laminate acts as a vapor barrier and makes the force and the damage worse. 

wood flooring board issues

Where is the floor problem happening?

This normally happens in the middle of rooms where the floor structure is at its weakest point. Hardwood floors will expand with the path of least resistance so they tend to tent up or create speed humps in the middle of floors as shown in the pictures.

Does the problem go away when the conditions improve?

It all looks pretty bad for your floors, it’s a huge safety issue and a major cosmetic one too. Even after the weather conditions change, this problem doesn’t fix itself. Since the problem, unfortunately, won’t go away on its own, it must be repaired (but not by a foundation contractor). 

How Do I Solve this Flooring Issue?

Fixing this problem is likely a two-step process. First, you need to make sure that you don’t have a drainage problem. You might if there was enough moisture under the home to contribute to this issue. 

downspout and drainage issues

Check under your home when it rains. See what it’s like down there and how long it takes for water to drain away. If it’s hanging around for a while or not ever going away, that’s not a good thing. Evaluate your home to reduce drainage issues in incremental steps as described in this other article, “Can I Fix Poor Drainage Around My Home’s Foundation? 6 Steps to Take.”

Call in a drainage expert for help in working through drainage solutions as they are not always DIY kinds of things. Handling the drainage concerns will help ensure that you never have this kind of problem again.

Next, you will need flooring repair or replacement because those floors will not fix themselves. We’ve put together a list for homeowners that we work with (well, really for anyone who finds the article online) of the best flooring installers around that we recommend.

If You Have Foundation Issues As Well

We mentioned the signs of foundation problems a little earlier. Even though that is not your main concern right now, did you notice that you have any of those signs as well? 

repairing wood flooring

The wall cracks, the door issues, and also loose or bouncy floors in crawl-space homes are foundation issues to look out for as they do tend to go hand in hand with poor drainage situations.

If you did see some other things that might be related to your foundation, an adjustment to your foundation may still be in order. It’s a good idea to handle this problem before the new flooring goes down. You want to make sure your new floors are being put on top of something that is as level as possible and won’t be prone to further movement anytime soon.

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been repairing crawlspace homes like pier and beam foundations since 1985. We still have quite a few homes in the area with this type of foundation so we continue to help Brazos Valley homeowners with their repair needs.

Want to know more about your crawlspace foundation and its repair needs? They are really very interesting and complex structures, so check out, “How Do You Fix a Pier and Beam Foundation? Understanding Damage and Repairs.”