Case of the Month: The Water Damaged Wood Floor

Aug 2, 2012 by

The insured’s property sustained water damage to their wood flooring.   A leak detection company was hired to find the source, but they found no pressurized plumbing leaks.   GEI was then hired to inspect and photograph the site and to identify and determine the predominant cause and approximate age of the observed floor damage.

Our expert inspected the home with the assistance of the insured.   The property was a two story, single-family, timber-framed building.

Hardwood flooring was used throughout the first floor.   The oak planking was directly glued to the concrete sub-floor.   There were three areas of interest, 1) the patio door area, 2) the kitchen sink area, and 3) the dining room built-in cabinet area.

The patio door area had French doors leading from the dining room to the rear patio.  The flooring in this area had a hollow sound to it when rapped, indicating a failure of the adhesive to keep the flooring firmly attached to the sub-floor.    This damage was caused by water infiltration under the door threshold and through a defective side window panel in the rear door in the dining room, which also had areas of dry rot.

However, the damaged area did not extend beyond a foot or so inside the home.

The area directly in front of the kitchen sink, approximately 15 inches deep for the full length of the sink base unit, had a similar sound when rapped.   The damage to the flooring in the kitchen was caused by water flowing over or splashing over the kitchen sink and/or from the dishwasher.

Some of the planks in front of the dining room closets (the total affected area was approximately 40 square feet) had been removed and replaced with temporary parquet tile infill at the time of the inspection.   This was the next area of focus.

The upstairs bathroom was located over the dining room, with the bath/shower being located over the living room and the toilet and basin being located over the dining room.   The downstairs dining room and living room were separated by a wall that formed the west wall of the upstairs bathroom entry.   Water moving over the edge of the bathtub was, therefore, directly above the dining room/living room separating wall.   The wall in the bathroom showed evidence of some prior corrosion to the quoin bead (the galvanized metal strip used to form a corner in plastered walls).

This corrosion formed over an extended period, most likely from bathroom-generated condensation.   The baseboard along that wall showed signs of water damage and had a gap underneath that allowed movement of water down into the wall beneath.   Inspection through the access panel to the end of the bathtub showed past leakage between the tile and the top of the bathtub.

That damage to the bathtub edge had not progressed down to the living room ceiling and was long-term damage.   The back of the closet, from which the access panel was reached, also showed water damage.


Going back downstairs, water damage had occurred to the built-in dining room cabinets, at their base, to the lowest shelf, and to the base and trim of the cabinets, as well as to the flooring in their immediate area.   This cabinet damage was not associated with water penetration from outside the residence or from beneath, but was caused by water penetration from the second floor resulting from bathtub overflows.

The predominant cause of the damage to the dining room floor and cabinets was water from an overflow condition of the upstairs bathroom.   The bathtub overflow fitting previously used was a clean-out inspection plate not designed to allow overflow to keep pace with the inflow rate of the faucet.   The approximate age of the overflow condition damage was within about three months prior to the date of inspection.   There also was some additional bathroom damage resulting from an ineffective seal at the bathtub/tile junction, but the primary cause of the damage to the first floor cabinets and oak flooring was overflow water from the upstairs bathtub.

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