Stephen Perrera, Owner Of Top Floor Installation Co. and native Tucsonan since 1955 has been in the flooring trade for over thirty-two years. He is licensed, bonded and an insured state of Arizona Flooring Contractor and detailed troubleshooter who performs moisture testing and floor failure analysis, installing a variety of floor coverings. Top
Humidification of Hardwood in Arid Zones
A common complaint about hardwood floors in arid zones is checking and splitting due to low humidity. Many people believe running a humidifier in arid zones in summer is futile. This is largely due to the fact that an AC unit is a de-humidifier. These will counter act each other but not totally as your AC does not run continually and this counter reaction by the AC unit can be neutralized to a point. However some checking should be expected in your wood flooring as nothing can be 100% effective. I see more and more manufacturers putting requirements in ink. Even right on the outside of the boxes.
The old school of thought was to acclimate the wood out in the open and either dry it down or let the wood gain moisture and equilibrate with the surroundings.
Now this is changing and you bring your home to the woods comfort zone, especially with the pre-finished flooring, so the wood is stable and the hard finish will not check, and the wood is less likely to split.
In my zone (Southern Arizona) it is still very dry during the summer months down into the single digits until the rains (monsoons) come in mid July to August. Even though one may think it is useless, a humidifying system attached to your HVAC system is still working to keep up the Rh in your home, lessening the chance your hardwood floor will check and split.
Let it be known the checks and some splits are actually already there depending on the kiln drying and type of manufacturing - ie rotary, sliced and sawn face.
See the difference? the proper term is "sliced" not cut and sawn faced instead of just sawn. Although it depends on the part of the country I would imagine. The idea is to keep them from visibly showing up to the naked eye. And under no circumstances should your engineered wood delaminate strictly because of low Rh.
There are other options such as using a stand alone humidifier with the one in installed with your HVAC system, or even two or three stand alone humidifiers depending on the size of your house. Speak with a qualified HVAC salesman. I have a stand alone that covers 2000 square feet and keeps my house at 30% Rh very easily without running every ten minutes. Once the unit runs for awhile it is easy for it to stay in the upper 30+ % range.
Also, quite a few houses like mine have dual cooling systems. I am able to run an evaporative cooling system (Master Cool II) which easily raises the Rh of the home to any manufactures requirements. Then when the rains come I switch to AC.
Humidification of your house in arid zones like Arizona will also help your wood furniture as well as your sinuses. In fact it is very healthy and typically called a comfort zone, which runs anywhere between 30 to 55 %, yes, just like humans.
After a discussion I had with a consumer who had a bad experience with their wood floor checking I called a Steinway Piano dealer whom I installed a hardwood floor for last fall. He humidifies his entire store, winter through summer. In fact he freaked out when I was installing some solid maple in his showroom because I left the door open when transporting tools in and out. His $100,000 Steinway he had near the entrance needs a constant ambient temp and Rh or the wood will__________ you fill in the blank.
Needless to say I don't have to worry about that maple hardwood flooring. And there really is no excuse for not maintaining your hardwood floor close to manufactures ambient zone requirements.
Edited by Admin 11/1/2011
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