SEASONAL GAPS IN HARDWOOD FLOORING
It seems like winter is paying us an early visit this year. The heating season is upon us and most likely you have already turned on your heat. Heating your environment typically starts to dry things including your skin and your hardwood floors. Typically we use moisturizers to relieve dry skin and your hardwood floors need similar care in the form of humidity. When floors start to dry out you will see gaps develop between the boards, this can be minimized by running a whole house humidifier or room humidifiers in the areas you have hardwood. As we saw last winter with the "polar vortex", temperatures were in the single digits for a sustained period of time and severely dried out wood in homes even with humidifiers working on furnaces. Please make sure that you have a humidifier on your furnace and that it is functioning. Typical whole house humidifiers only put moisture in the air when the heat kicks on. So depending on the efficiency of your home it may be necessary in severe cold snaps to turn the blower on to cycle air and add humidity when the heat is not running or add room humidifiers in those areas.
The best way to measure the humidity levels in your home is to get a digital hygrometer. This will tell you the interior temperature and relative humidity in your home. If you see the humidity drop into the low 30% range or below, you definitely need to add moisture to the environment to prevent permanent damage to your floor. Manufacturers typically recommend a range of 40-55% RH to minimize movement. Manufacturers do not warrant expansion and contraction as this is an environmental condition related to each individual home, so please take the proper precautions to protect your investment.
If you need to invest in a new humidifier we recommend installing a steam humidifier on your furnace. Steam humidifiers monitor the moisture content of the air in your cold air return and will add humidity when it needs to and is not dependent on the heat kicking on. You will be able to maintain a more consistent humidity level in your home with steam, making you and your floor more comfortable.
Here's to a warm and quick winter season, hopefully we won't have a repeat of the 2013/14 winter.