What I'm Seeing Now

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Why Is The Floor In Our Kitchen Bulging?

A homeowner called.

"We just want to know one thing.  Why is the floor in our kitchen bulging?"

Such a question over the phone spawns a lot of further questions.  I had a lot of them.  But I answered the only way I could.  "I would have to see it and diagnose why."  And we set up a time for an inspection.

They ushered me right to the kitchen.  And to the door leading to the garage.  There was vinyl flooring.

"It is easier to feel with your shoes off."

So I took off my shoes and felt around near the door.  There surely was a bulge there!

And it was really, really cold!  I asked if they had felt the cold area and yes they had.  But they didn't realize why it was cold.

The outdoor temperature was 31F that day.  Inside the garage the ambient temperature was 39F.  And the floor inside the garage door was 49F.  And the cool spot had a particular triangular shape, which you can see to the right.

The triangle you see was also the shape of the bulge.

Beneath this is the furnace room.  But there is framing there which runs from the right side of the door, and running at an angle to the left follows just along that cold spot.  The rest is not visible, or accessible from below, because of the garage foundation wall.  The thermal image reveals the width and shape of that floor joist, and its right-angled companion, as slightly defined reddish lines.  The rest of the flooring is warmed by the furnace room below, a comfy 70F.

The conclusion?  There is no insulation inside and beneath the floor immediately inside the door, and the cavity without insulation is framed just as you see here.  Repeated heating and cooling of the seasons has caused the flooring, almost certainly nailed, to release from the floor joists below.  Expansion and contraction has caused the bulge.  Can it be insulated now?  Yes.  They intend to remodel the kitchen, including a ceramic tile floor.  I recommended that they wait until that point, and cut out the bulge in the floor.  That will reveal the uninsulated cavity and they can insulate it at that point, and replace the floor.  This should solve any future bulging as well.

My recommendation:  When you know of an anomaly and cannot figure it out, try calling a home inspector!  Although home inspectors are considered by some to be "placebos" and "almost never find anything," every now and then they just might have the experience or tools necessary to figure things out.

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 16 commentsJay Markanich • December 27 2009 07:49PM

Comments

Jay -

Thanks for the post.  That is one I would have never figured out.  I guess insulation saves money in more ways than one.

Posted by Joel Prince, Hixson/Soddy Real Estate Broker (The Principle Group, Inc) over 8 years ago

That's great advice, and I have done just that in the past.  Need an anwswer?  Call a home inspector!

Posted by Janna Scharf, Coeur d'Alene Idaho Real Estate Expert (Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene) over 8 years ago

Joel - proper insulation is always a good bet!  And yes, a money saver...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Thanks Janna.  It keeps us in business...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Hi Jay - I recommend that every buyer I represent get a home inspection of the home they intend to buy, and if they decline, I have them sign a waiver to that effect.  I think it is important, and I have never had an inspector find nothing.  Usually there is a punch list, and then it is up to the buyer to decide if the issues are important or not.  If they include deal breakers, I urge them to submit a request for repairs to the seller before simply walking away from the house.  Inspectors are an imortant part of my team, and I have also called for inspections on my own home when something troubled me.  You do an important service.

Posted by Susan Neal, Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks) over 8 years ago

But... But... Jay!  I thought homes were built to code and home inspectors weren't needed...???

LOL

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 8 years ago

Susan - of course I agree with you!  My previous post, where I (and my profession) was called a "placebo," was the reason for the tongue-in-cheek comment at the end of the post!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Mike - some homes are and most inspectors are not!

You have to kind of read this oppositely!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay, I'll bet they thought you were a genius!   Good work.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 8 years ago

Sometimes, Barbara, it's the tools that rule.  But maybe they did!  I wasn't there very long.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Good job Jay. Another great reason to pick up a IR camera.

Posted by Vince Santos, Southeast Michigan Home Inspector (StepByStep Home Services LC) over 8 years ago

I picked mine up over 5 years ago, Vince.  The price now is less than half what I paid!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

The tool is only as good as the guy using it. You're pretty darn good Jay!

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 8 years ago

Thanks but, you know what James? As soon as I felt the cold floor, I knew what the problem was. The camera provides a visual for what I was feeling with my feet, and the exact cold triangle I could trace with my sockies. The IR image is a visual clients can see and understand, but the diagnosis really had nothing to do with the camera.

It's like seeing condensation inside a double-pane window and then putting the IR on it to show the bull's eye. It's a great visual, but you know what the problem is beforehand...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay- your job at this house shows the value and versatility of home inspectors.

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Eric - had they done nothing about this, ceramic tile would not have adhered well or cracked because of the bulge and the bulge would likely have grown larger.  They were smart to try to figure it out.  My fee is cheaper than having to re-do a ruined ceramic floor.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

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