Managing Moisture Between the Flooring and the Concrete Slab

Laying Ceramic Tiles

Water is an inherent part of the hydration process of concrete. However, allowing excess moisture to leave the slab after it’s poured is crucial to a successful flooring installation.

Once the slab is poured, the excess moisture must leave the slab in order to strengthen the concrete bond. The slab must also dry to a specified level of moisture before flooring materials can be installed on top of it. Moisture-related damage to the flooring materials is possible.

Three common floor materials run the risk of moisture-related problems:

  1. Adhesives
    Flooring AdhesiveMoisture-related adhesive failures are a problematic reality in the flooring business. Recent trends towards restricting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in flooring adhesives have increased the number of moisture-sensitive adhesives used. If the adhesive used to install the flooring does not have the correct moisture tolerance for the concrete subfloor, the entire installation can be at risk.
  2. Floating Floors
    Floating floor systems are attractive because they don’t need to be attached directly to the subfloor. Instead, the floor pieces “lock” together to become a cohesive unit that’s not as vulnerable to seasonal shifts, dimensional challenges, or other moisture-related issues. In fact, floating floors are often recommended on projects where moisture risks are high with standard attached floor systems. For floating floors, manufacturers often recommend installing a moisture barrier between the subfloor and the floating floor to prevent moisture intrusion. The difficulty, of course, is that if the moisture barrier is compromised in any way, moisture from the slab beneath can still damage the flooring or finish.
  3. Grout or Cementitious Bonds
    Excess moisture issues in a grouted tile or mosaic floor often appear as efflorescence, a whitish residue on the surface of the grout. It’s the result of water-soluble minerals getting transported to the surface of the grout with the moisture as it evaporates away. Since minerals don’t evaporate, they’re left behind on the floor surface as a visible residue. The more porous the concrete or grout, the more likely efflorescence will appear. In the majority of cases, these minerals are actually part of the concrete slab mixture. Although they can possibly be in the ground beneath the slab, and seep into the concrete if no moisture barrier was installed. If the slab was not dried to the required specs before the tile was installed, the natural moisture migration of the drying concrete will impact the grout. Remediation steps will be necessary to correct the problem. In extreme cases, excess moisture can lead to flaking or chipping of the grout which results in a complete grout or thin-set failure.

Are you seeing a theme yet? The real risk to a successful floor lies with the moisture that can accumulate within the layer between the concrete slab and the flooring itself.

Moisture control is often one of the most crucial, yet most overlooked, elements of any floor’s success over time. Responsible moisture control (having accurate moisture measurements) starts with the concrete slab.

Moisture in a Concrete Subfloor

For moisture to accumulate between the concrete slab and the flooring, it needs to find its way to that middle layer. In this section, we breakdown the main ways water can get into your concrete, which causes a buildup of excess moisture, and list effective methods to prevent moisture problems from occurring.

Sources of Moisture in Concrete

The primary source of moisture in a concrete slab is the proportion of water mixed with the cement. No water source has a greater impact on the time it will take concrete to set.

Yet you have other water sources to worry about. A variety of potential external water sources at a worksite can affect slab drying and curing.

  • Rain, snow, and sprinkler systems are culprits on a work site open to the elements. These water sources increase in danger if the grade of the grounds around the slab slope towards it. Not only is the concrete absorbing the water from above, but it’s also taking on the runoff from the areas around it.
  • The concrete slab can also absorb the groundwater below and around it. Thus, the amount of natural groundwater has a huge impact on concrete moisture conditions.
  • Unnatural water sources can also leak water. Any poor plumbing installation at the worksite creates a high risk of excess moisture. Old plumbing that’s degraded and has leaks presents the same risk.
  • Ambient conditions can also increase the concrete slab’s water content. Condensation develops on a slab that has a lower temperature and moisture level than the air’s dew point. The dew point is the temperature at which the air can hold no more moisture. You know, when dew (or condensation) starts to form. The slab will absorb some of the condensation.
     
    The slab will also absorb moisture from its environment when its relative humidity (RH) is below the air’s RH. Moisture wants to level out. If the air holds more moisture than the slab, as evidenced by its RH, that moisture will move to the concrete.

These are all potential sources of free water. That is, water the concrete doesn’t need to cure. Any moisture the slab doesn’t need is moisture that can undermine your flooring installation.

Causes of Excess Moisture in a Concrete Slab

Inadequate drainage around the slab exacerbates the risk of any source of moisture. In fact, the existing water source itself may not be the problem. A little rainfall or a bit of groundwater can drain away with well-designed drainage. Even minimal sources of water can pool on the concrete without adequate water lines and drains.

Excessive water can also intrude in a structure due to poor subfloor protection. Groundwater will move into the concrete if no vapor retarder sits between the ground and the subfloor.

The more likely cause for poor subfloor protection is using the wrong vapor retarder. Certain ASTM standards allow a vapor retarder to have a perm rating of 0.3 perms, which could allow up to “approximately 18 gallons of water per week in a 50,000 square foot area.” A vapor retarder with too low a perm rating won’t do the job it needs to do.

In other cases, the vapor retarder may have been sitting on the ground. It’s helpful to have a separation barrier between the ground and vapor retarder. Contractors should install the vapor retarder over granular fill to create extra separation from the groundwater.

A torn vapor retarder is another potential hazard to subfloor protection. Torn vapor retarders can occur in a reckless worksite. Hurried construction schedules create all sorts of moisture (among other) threats.

Fast-paced project plans often mean that concrete slabs don’t get the time they need to set. For example, slabs may get power troweled to speed up preparations for flooring. The compression caused by the troweling closes off the evaporation outlets in the slab. The result is that over troweling will extend the drying time. If the schedule doesn’t allow for that time, then adhesives or surface membranes get installed on concrete with too much moisture. A moisture-related flooring failure is practically guaranteed under such circumstances.

The best of intentions to avoid excess moisture doesn’t matter if you don’t have accurate concrete moisture testing. There are two main ways to suffer inaccurate moisture testing. The first is to choose the wrong concrete moisture test. Only the in situ RH test measures moisture below the slab’s surface. Any test measuring only surface moisture is necessarily providing inaccurate results.

The other way to get inaccurate moisture test results is to perform the in situ RH test wrong. If you don’t place enough sensors throughout the floor, you won’t get an accurate picture of the space.

ASTM F2170 requires three sensors for the first 1000 square feet and another sensor for each additional 1000 square feet. Other testing mistakes include not inserting the sensor to the proper depth.

Serious errors can even occur from simply miswriting readings on your chart. The Rapid RH® L6 sensors contain integrated data storage that automates results reporting. When the meeting takes place to decide when to install flooring, no one has to rely on paper notes.

How to Prevent Moisture Problems

Moisture is an inevitable part of concrete construction. Moisture-related problems are not. I’ve peppered this article with different ways to prevent moisture problems. Let’s round them up here.

  • Keep a low water to cement ratio. The more water in the mix, the greater the chance the slab won’t get all the time it needs to set. Try to avoid adding water to concrete that’s already mixed. That water is a new variable that makes managing timelines and moisture issues difficult.
  • Take all necessary actions if pouring concrete below grade or at a wet building site. Whether that means installing more draining lines, using pumps to dewater the site, or any other method – do it. Make sure that your water displacement methods aren’t generating run-off in the wrong directions.
  • the layers above and below the concrete slab to prevent water seepage into the slab. Start with a vapor retarder with a perm rating that reflects the needs of the space. Install it over a layer of fill. Inspect it before pouring the concrete and fix any tears it may have. If necessary, use a proper underlayment between the concrete slab and the flooring. This is especially true when using wood flooring. Installing a plywood underlayment can add extra protection, but must also be tested to ensure it’s not bringing in new moisture.
  • Give the concrete slab the time it needs to dry and cure. Review the project plan and schedule. Is enough time set aside for concrete floors to set? No reason to start out behind the eight ball. Exert as much control as possible over the ambient conditions to accelerate the timeline. Protect the space from outside elements. If the season isn’t ideal, can you take steps to reduce swings in air temperature? Will a dehumidifier help the air absorb more moisture from the concrete? Use fans to increase airflow, which speeds up drying time.

All these methods point towards a single goal: not installing any flooring too soon. Preparatory materials like adhesives or plywood will seal up the concrete. Sealed concrete will stop releasing moisture. At that point, the slab has the moisture it will hold for the long term. If there’s excess moisture trapped in the concrete, it will eventually reveal itself in ugly and possibly dangerous ways.

How to Tell If There Is Excessive Moisture in My Floor

A floor may already be showing some external signs of containing excess moisture. A floor with a white or greyish powdery stain (also called “efflorescence”) likely has excess moisture. Due to moisture moving up through the slab and then evaporating from the surface. The whitish stain is the salt left behind by evaporating water. Or you may see that the flooring installed over the concrete slab is blistering or peeling away. If a wood flooring has been installed on top of the slab, the wood may be cracking or warping. These types of flooring failures occur due to excess moisture trapped between the flooring and the concrete.

No one wants to wait until the ugly signs of excessive moisture make themselves visible. You want to know if your floor is holding too much moisture well before that.

The calcium chloride test is an older method for measuring the moisture level of concrete flooring. It’s also called the moisture vapor emission rate (MVER) test. It’s standardized as the ASTM F1869 (Standard Test Method for Measuring Moisture Vapor Emission Rate of Concrete Subfloor Using Anhydrous Calcium Chloride).

The MVER test uses the weight differential over a 72-hour period of calcium chloride salt placed on the slab’s surface. The calcium chloride, sitting under a sealed dish, absorbs the moisture evaporating from the slab. You calculate the rate of evaporation based on the weight differential.

Unfortunately, ambient conditions often corrupt MVER test results. F1869 doesn’t even allow its use on lightweight concrete. Of greater concern is what the MVER test measures. It measures moisture only at the surface of the concrete slab. It’s not testing the moisture condition that matters over the long haul. You need to know the moisture condition within the concrete.

Only the in situ RH tests for moisture below the slab’s surface. Sensors inserted into the slab measure the RH within the concrete.

And these aren’t random depths. ASTM F2170 (Standard Test Method for Determining Relative Humidity in Concrete Floor Slabs Using in situ Probes) specifies the depth based on whether the concrete is poured on grade and whether vapor retarders are used.

Rigorous scientific testing conducted at universities and laboratories has determined and validated the proper depths. At the proper depth, the RH sensor accurately reflects what the moisture condition of the slab will be once the flooring is installed.

The Rapid RH L6 returns the scientifically reliable readings you need to complete a successful flooring project. Readings that the MVER test can’t provide. Even better, the RH test can be completed in 24 hours. That’s one-third the waiting time required to conduct an MVER test.

Moisture Management Requires Accurate Moisture Readings

Total Reader and Test Results FormAccurate concrete moisture measurement is only achieved with RH testing. Unlike surface-based tests like calcium chloride tests, RH testing determines the accurate moisture condition within the slab by placing probes at a strategic and proven depth. Moisture often rises through a slab from the bottom to the top in the drying process. Only testing performed at the correct depth can let you determine if the final moisture condition of the slab will be compatible with the flooring and the products used to install it.

Wagner Meters has been assisting flooring professionals for over 50 years. During these decades, we have designed some of the most accurate and innovative RH testing sensors on the market today. The Rapid RH L6 is the newest iteration, taking advantage of 21st-century technology to simplify reporting.

All our Rapid RH sensors and test kits are based on decades of scientific research and technological advances to help each builder and flooring specialist accurately determine the correct concrete RH level for a project’s chosen flooring materials. Our innovative Total Reader® and factory-calibrated Smart Sensor design delivers quick, reliable results. The Rapid RH line of products is affordable and conforms to ASTM F2170 requirements for easy recording and reporting.

We also understand that sometimes a building project schedule means making alternate choices in adhesives or even flooring products. The Rapid RH sensors help you make informed decisions in real-time. Along with accurate, actionable testing, we’ve also compiled a one-stop list of manufacturers that provide an RH tolerance specification for their flooring products at www.rhspec.com.

The truest way to protect a floor system is to ensure that all components are safe from excess moisture intrusion from any source. The Rapid RH family helps you prevent your concrete slab from being the source of a moisture-related flooring adhesive or grout failure. Don’t let moisture problems come between you and a successful flooring installation.

97 Comments

  1. JILL COX says:

    i HAVE BEEN REMODELING MY 50 YEAR OLD HOME..I REMOVED ALL THE CARPET AND HAVE VINYL/FOAM BACKED FLOORING INSTALLED. NOW, A COUPLE OF YEARS LATER, THERE ARE MULTIPLE GRAY AREAS THAT TURN BLACK ALL OVER MY HOUSE. WHEN I PULL BACK THE FLOORING “BLACK WET CONCRETE IS THERE…LOTS OF MOISTURE…WHAT BARRIER DO YOU RECOMMEND I USE WHEN I REMOVE/REPLACE THIS FLOORING? EVEN AREAS THAT HAVE NO FLOORING YET,,,WHEN SOMETHING SOLID IS SIT ON IT, OVERNITE, THAT AREA UNDERNEATH WILL BECOME WET. ANY HELP OR TIPS WILL GREATLY BE APPRECIATED. THANKS

    • Joe Dabbs says:

      Jill,

      I am pretty sure that this old home does not have a vapor barrier. If I had a hunch you probably see more “wet” concrete during the wet months when compared to the dry months. I say this because your concrete slab is like a sponge and it will soak up moisture when it is present. One of the ways to outsmart this problem is to create a “vapor” barrier on the surface of the slab. Epoxy Resins are applied to the surface to keep the moisture from escaping from the surface. If done correctly, the epoxy resin should create a barrier strong enough to defend “moisture”.

      Here is a link that explains this process in more depth: http://www.vanguardconcretecoating.com/resins.htm

      Let me know if you would like some more information or you can give us a call at 800-634-9961.

      Thanks Jill,
      Wagner Meters

  2. Gena Jenkins says:

    I am having an issue with my hardwood floors. The floor is turning black although the house. They are not rotten, just turning a dark color. The areas are in my closet, under my rug in the dining from, as well as in my kitchenew

    Would this be a foundation issue or the floor not being put down correctly?

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Gena:

      Thanks for the comment. It would be best to have someone look at your issue because it could be multiple things. I would contact NWFA.org and get one of their qualified inspectors to come out and take a look.

      Thanks,

  3. dawn pecunies says:

    good morning, I just got up this morning to find that my ceramic (white)tiles in my kitchen are turning “gray”it looked like
    it was a shadow but with closer inspection the tiles are turning a dark grey. WHAT would cause this to happen???

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Dawn, overnight like that, being honest, I don’t know. I would contact a local contractor whom specializes in tile and/or contact National Tile Contractors Association (http://www.tile-assn.com/) and see if possibly they have any recommendations of someone who can take a look at it.

  4. Sam says:

    Today we had a home inspection and during the inspection of this home we are interested in purchasing was built in 2010. The garage show efflorescence on the bottom concrete blocks around the garage foundation slab on some of the cement whitish residue on the surface. The home was built on a raise slab. We are not sure if we should purchase home ? If the would be a problem in the future ? What type of repaired is needed and the cost if all. Currently considering purchase but not sure if this is a major problem or could be a problem in unseen surfaces of the home.
    Please help or advise .

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Sam:

      Thanks for the comment. I would recommend contacting a waterproofing contractor and see if it is a big issue. In general, this is a fairly common occurrence, but you should verify your specific situation.

      Thanks,

      Jason

  5. Martine Cameau says:

    Hello, we’ve been dealing with a moisture problems since we installed porcelain tiles in five rooms in our home built in 1989 (the rest of the house has ceramic tile that has been in place for 15 years). We had a drainage problem on one side of the house that resulted in wet walls (interior, not exterior) as well as major efflorescence in the new tile installation. We are currently in the process of installing well pointing and a sump pump to drain water away from the house. We are located in FL, and it’s raining every day here, and in on the rooms you can actually see water beading through the grout lines, but only in the middle of the room. We’re hoping draining water away from the house will ultimately dry out the slab. After reading the posts above, it seems the tile installer should have put down an epoxy resin before setting the tile. Is there any way we can do something to the EXISTING installation, and not have to resort to removing all the tile and starting over? Could we regrout and add something to the grout mix to help with the waterproofing?

  6. Jeffrey W says:

    My wife and I purchased engineered floors for our home, which is on a concrete slab. They were initially installed floating with a 3mm underlayment. Unfortunately, the slab was not leveled properly, which led to a number of dead spots and possibly buckling. So, the floors are being redone and the slab is being properly leveled. My questions are… I am concerned with moisture as the home has previously had moisture and mold issues. What is the best glue to provide a solid moisture barrier between the slab and the wood and/or do I still need an additional underlayment between the slab and wood in addition the glue (my contractor says no)? Thank you.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Jeffrey:

      Thanks for the comment. Your best place to start for best installation practices for wood is the NWFA at http://www.nwfa.org. They have resources and phone numbers you can call to get expert advice. Regarding adhesives, you need to have appropriate moisture testing of the concrete to know what needs to be done to remedy the problem. I would start there and then based on the moisture testing results, you can shop for appropriate products to go on top of the slab.

      Regards,

      Jason

  7. Taj Ahmad says:

    We have fully renovated our house this year. One of the major jobs was to put marble (Crema Marfel) on the floor. The floor was laid in February 2017. Two months later, we noticed powder like substance appear on the surface. We pointed this out to the contractor, who arranged for a chemical to be applied and buffing carried out. After the buffing, the the floor appeared clean and shiny. Two months later the problem appeared again. The contractor has arranged the application of chemical and buffing three times but each time the problem reappears after 3-4 weeks. We are now noticing dark stain marks on the joints. We moved into our house in March 2017, but have not been able to settle down because of the floor problem.

    Can you help with identifying the cause of the problem and proposing a solution.

  8. Martine Cameau says:

    Hello Jason, any thoughts regarding my post dated June 16? We hired a geo Engineer who determined that we don’t have a high water table, however there may be have been a drainage issue, as the soil samples indicates that one side of the house is about a foot wet. Likely soils holding water. Somehow it’s seeping into the area of dirt BETWEEN the slab and footer and has been wetting the soils under our floor. And we contacted the tile manufacturer; it seems the porcelain tile is creating condensation and it’s finding its way through the grout and our walls. We’re trying to figure out if there’s a way to dry the slab without having to rip out all of the tile.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Martine:

      First, I apologize for missing the original question. I am not aware of being able to “fix” this problem without starting over. That being said, it may be beneficial to have a tile certified flooring inspector come out and evaluate and give some advice. I would start here (https://www.nicfi.org/) and see what this organization can do to help.

      Thanks,

      Jason

  9. I had a bamboo wood floor laid that did not adhere to the glue, the home flooded over a year and a half ago , is there anything I can do to save my floor.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Shelia:

      Thanks for the comment. I would recommend having either a qualified wood flooring installer or a wood flooring inspectors come out and evaluate the floor to determine a course of action.

      Thanks,

      Jason

  10. Rosalie Atkinson says:

    I have lived in my apartment for about 10 years and recently an accidental water problem in the apartment upstairs caused some damage to my ceiling and kitchen floor. Management said my carpet was not damaged so did not need replacing. However, when I walk barefooted across the living and dining area which are carpeted the bottom of my feet feel dampness. Is there some way to determine if there is still moisture under my carpet?

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Rosalie:

      Thanks for the comment. There really isn’t a way, that I am aware, to test moisture in the carpet itself. One thing you may want to try though would be a visual test. Take some newspapers or paper towels and put them in a few areas, placing something on top of them to weight them down. Leave them for short period of time and see if the paper product shows any discoloration. Obviously, this doesn’t prove where the moisture came from, but it does show moisture.

      Thanks,

      Jason

  11. Justin Lee says:

    Hello,

    I live in north Tampa. I have battled water intrusion up through my grout lines in my newly installed porcelain tiles for over a year now. It occurs almost daily, pooling puddles, and a couple of times actually squirted through an opening when I scraped the efflorescence away. My home was built in 1980.

    When we first noticed the issue, end of 2015/early 2016, we saw water stain under our laminate floors. We filed an insurance claim and their investigation (sub-par at best) was negative for leaks and determined to be a ground water/seepage issue, which is not covered. It was denied. I remodeled my home and during the process of removing the damaged laminate, there was thick mold found underneath every sq inch. My kitchen cabinets base and my two bathrooms show water damage and were installed directly onto the slab, NOT the tile. There were 14×14 inch ceramic tile with a ¼ inch grout lines in the rest of the home, which never showed water or efflorescence. Even the un-remodeled bathrooms to this day do not show water intrusion. I installed 36 x 8 inch porcelain tiles with 1/8-1/16 inch grout lines. Well, I am positive that it is NOT a ground water issue through my own long term investigation by many different means, i.e. new gutters, surface ground drains, multiple drilled holes all the way through my slab with no signs of moisture, 5 holes- 4 ft deep, surrounding my slab on the affecting side of the house with NO ground water layers, new a/c return vent, correcting a negative air pressure issue within the home, and more. Im even having a couple tiles de-bonding. I also have a thinner, more powdery textured efflorescence showing on my garage floor and the paint has been flaking off. Over time, the leak locations have been slowly migrating further and further. The water is only on the surface of my slab. I haven’t noticed the slab insides being moist when drilling, or even in the dirt under the slab. I will add that I am on a pond, but it is approximately 40-50 feet behind my house with a major slope, approximately 3 feet lower elevation than my home.

    I have ruled out just about everything after 3 negative leak detections (1 included a drain inspection), 2 denied insurance claims, 3 geotechnical engineering firms blew me off (couldn’t figure it out and gave up), a building scientist unable to figure it out after almost 8 months trying, ruled out ground water, and more. This problem was consistent even during the 3 month drought we recently had. During this drought, the pond behind my home dropped about 12 inches in water level, but my water instruction continued just the same. The county water department and utilities departments both deny any possibilities of leaky pipes/drains on their end. Heavy rains do not seem to affect the frequency, nor does an extended time without rain. It’s major hydrostatic pressure and NO ONE is able to determine or even guess what the source is. I find it very hard to believe it would be condensation being as there was a couple instances where it showed pressure when coming through the grout. I occur on two opposite ends of my home, but not in the center area. I have even drilled holes through my slab, down into the earth and NO water showing in three different locations drilled. I cannot accept that NO ONE can determine a source for this water. None of my neighbors have noticed a similar problem, however, in the neighborhood due north of me, 3 or 4 homes have seen similar issues, just not nearly as severe. I have held off on installing major, overkill French drains around the perimeter of my foundation until I can define the source. Is it possible that it’s a newly exposed underground spring????

    I am willing to bet this would be your most challenging investigation yet, if you are able to help me out. Please text or email me anytime. The sooner the better. I will not stop trying until I solve this.

  12. Misty says:

    Good morning, we have lived in our house almost 7 years. We have stained concrete floors and have a huge problem with efflorescence. We have had the moisture test done where they drilled holes in the floor and we were told it is the highest they have seen. We are wanting to cover our floors but we don’t know where to even begin. Do you need to grind the stained concrete floors and what type of flooring would work with this moisture problem? Help

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Misty:

      Thanks for the comment. I would enlist a reputable flooring contractor to give you options. If the levels of moisture are very high in the concrete, there are various products on the market that can be applied to the surface (moisture mitigation product), to minimize how much comes out and can affect the flooring finish you wish to apply. Keep in mind, the high levels of moisture don’t bother the concrete, they bother the finish trying to be applied. I hope this helps.

  13. C says:

    We have a luxury vinyl plank flooring and just months later the flooring is bubbled and glue squirts out anytime you step near a seam. These were professionally installed and were glued directly to a concrete subfloor. The flooring company insists I have a leak and won’t repair, but they also never completed a moisture test prior to installing. Do they have any obligation to repair?

    • Jason Spangler says:

      C:

      Thanks for the comment and I am sorry for your issues. Most contractors have some kind of warranty on workmanship, but in the end, they have the ability to decide whether this falls under their warranty. Depending on where you purchased the material, you might get some help from them, or possibly even the manufacturer of the product. Good Luck.

      Jason

  14. Jim says:

    We finished our basement two years ago and chose a vinyl tile with grout for the bathroom. Less than a year after, some of the tiles buckled up at the grout line and were replaced by the flooring people, the thought was there was not enough glue. Into the second year more tiles did the same and the flooring people said there is a moisture problem. Not all tiles are buckling, so upon recommendation we removed the toilet thinking it may have a leak. The seal was good, so that was not the problem. The contractor did need to break the slab to rough in the drain for the toilet and shower. We have not removed the flooring to see if there is an issue with that. The floor outside the bathroom walls is either carpet or bare concrete, neither have moisture. Another part of the basement we have a vinyl floor product that interlocks without grout, not sure if it was glued, with no issues. The basement has always been dry before and we have always run a dehumidifier. The current thought is to remove the flooring and let it dry to see where the moisture is now. I’d like to know what we need too look for, and correct as a next step.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Jim:

      Thanks for the comment. First, I would want to test the concrete to see how high the relative humidity is in the affected area, Second, the areas that you state don’t have a moisture issue, may. Carpet is very breathable and, obviously, so is bare concrete. The moisture we are speaking of here is moisture vapor, not physical water. So it may be coming up through the concrete and once it gets to the surface, it evaporates and is processed through the dehumidifier. One of the big issues with basement renovations is you never know if there is an intact vapor retarder under the slab and in most older homes there isn’t. Without that, moisture from the soil is always available to the concrete. They make products that can be applied to the surface of the concrete, prior to flooring installation, that help minimize the amount of moisture that can come out of the slab. The first thing is to determine how bad the problem is.

      Thanks,

      Jason

  15. Cbb says:

    Hello,
    My husband and I are currently building a house and we’re hoping to use vinyl flooring for a budget friendly flooring. We had a friend/contractor to suggest doing a moisture test before purchasing any flooring. The first test (in Nov) it said there was over 7lbs in the floor. We did another last week and it is down to 6lbs, but according to our friend, that is still too high for VCT.
    The business we were going to purchase from is supposedly unaware of any need for a moisture test, and says it will be fine.
    Do you have any thoughts/opinions on this? Or know of any effective ways to draw moisture out of a concrete slab?

    Thanks an advance.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Thanks for the comment. There are some adhesives that may allow VCT to go to a higher moisture limit. I would consult the VCT manufacturer and seek recommendations from them. Drying concrete is a matter of time and environmental conditions. Having HVAC units up and running is step number one to expedite the process. Good luck.

      Thanks,

      Jason

  16. John Hearts says:

    Hello,

    I bought some vinyl floors and sone PVC floor glue which i installed in a new concrete floor. 2 days after, a whitish liquid was coming out from the floor where i installed the vinyl floors. I removed the entire floor and installed brand new vinyl floors again and the same thing happened. Please what is the solution to this? Is it the glue or is it the moist from the new concrete floor? How do I solve this???

    • Jason Spangler says:

      John:

      Thanks for the question. The first thing to do is identify what the flooring and adhesive manufacturer recommend for proper installation of their product. In their installation documents, they will have requirements for what they call “sub floor preparation”. Here they discuss many things, but one is concrete moisture testing. Have you done any of this? If not, I would start there and then once you have that information, contact the manufacturers and ask for their recommendations on a proper installation.

      Thanks,

      Jason

  17. A. James says:

    Contractors say the moisture levels are too high to install wood floors. We’ve tried fans, dehumidifiers, calcium chloride test, and had plumbers come out to check for leaks. Any other options so that I can get floors installed and my house back in order?

    • Jason Spangler says:

      A.James:

      Thanks for the comment. Without knowing the history of the home i.e. old vs new, is this just a renovation or was there a catastrophic event that caused the need for the flooring change (flood), I would recommend having a discussion with the contractor about options. They make products that will encapsulate the moisture in the slab and allow installation or better adhesives, depending on the level of moisture, that can do the same. The will cost more, but help with your issue. Good luck.

  18. Tony Agostinelli says:

    I have a concrete floor with 24×24 rubber tiles installed on it that is “curling” at the edges of the tiles. When I pull the tiles back, the slab is damp to the touch and you can watch it dry out (color change) once the slab is exposed. However, when I ran a calcium chloride test, it came back 4.6, which should be ok for the adhesive. Any thoughts as to what I am experiencing? Why would a qualitative test “fail” (dampness under the tiles) and a quantitative test “pass”.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Tony:

      Thanks for the comment/question. First I would ask, did you grind the 20” X 20” concrete area where you placed the CaCl test to a CSP 1 or CSP 2 and let it sit for 24 hours before setting the test? Second, this is a perfect example of why surface testing isn’t a real indicator of the long-term performance of a floor. The top ¾” of the slab may show “dry”, but once the flooring is installed, moisture deep within the slab will equilibrate, raising the moisture on the surface.

      Thanks,

      Jason

  19. Matea says:

    Dear Jason,

    is there any regulation/law that sais how high RH in concrete can be before putting tiles/parquete on it?
    I am trying to check RH in my concrete floor (after huge damage with water pipes) with device named TQC but there are 4 possible ways to check it and I cannot find which of them is most suitable for checking RH:
    1. Concrete 0-6%
    2. Crabidw method 0-4% H2O
    3. Relative scale
    4. 15. Scale

    Can you help me with advice somehow?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Matea:

      Thanks for the question. This meter isn’t intended to measure RH levels in concrete. From what I have seen, wood floors are usually in that 75% RH range when testing concrete RH% in the concrete, but you should verify with the flooring and setting material manufacturer to make sure. Good luck.

      Jason

  20. Sandra Bertoli says:

    Our house is entirely tiled and experienced a major water leak last week which covered most of the floors and flowed out under the front door.

    While surface water has been cleaned up, our plumber emphasized the importance of finding out what the optimum temperature and A/C setting should be to avoid tenting or buckling of the ceramic tile.

    Can you make a recommendation?

    Thanks for your assistance,

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Sandra:

      Thanks for the question. You may have already seen this article, but if not, here is the link https://cleanfax.com/disaster-restoration/tented-tile/ I would recommend talking with a remediation contractor in your area that may have specific experience on this topic. My guess is reasonable temperature with the addition of some type of dehumidification, if your HVAC isn’t suitably equipped, will be the prescribed method for continuing the drying process.

      Thanks,

      Jason

  21. Casey says:

    I’m renting and our carpet is on a concrete slab. The carpet always feels wet or damp. How do I go about getting the landlord to take care of this properly? Is there anyone in the city I can contact if the landlord brushes me off?

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Casey:

      Thanks for the question. If you think it is a health issue then quantifying the issue would seem to be the first step. Air quality testing would seem feasible. Other than that, I really have no other opinions to offer. Good luck.

      Jason

  22. Pamela Puskala says:

    We built a building with a concrete slab. The concrete was poured in August of 2017. We are now trying to figure out how to lay stone on the floor of the shower over the concrete. Do we have to seal the concrete first and then lay the stone and then seal that? or can we just lay the stone right on the unsealed concrete and then seal the stone and grout? Thanks for your help!

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Pamela:

      Thank you for the question. With specific application/installation questions of this nature, I always recommend you contact the manufacture of the products you are going to use to install the stone. Whose thin set? Whose grout? They should be able to give you VERY specific installation instructions to ensure longevity. If you don’t find the information online, call their technical department directly. I hope this helps.

      Jason

  23. Yvonne Dykstra says:

    we recently installed the vinyl floating flooring over a concrete slab from a previous garage (never used as a garage). the place is a cottage and not occupied during the week. we recently arrived and our temperatures and humidity levels outside were very high and we now have water all over our floors. we’re running a dehumidifier but yikes – what do we do??

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Yvonne:

      Thanks for the question. It’s hard to say if it’s one thing or a combination of things that are causing the issues. First, many garages are built without vapor retarders below them so moisture can potential infiltrate the concrete from the bottom of the slab, migrating to the surface. This may be some of the problem. Additionally, turning off all environmental controls makes perfect sense, from an economical side, when no one is inhabiting the cottage, but it has the potential to cause severe issues to the interior of the cottage. The moisture on the floors may be dew point condensation. If the temperature and relative humidity in the cottage were regulated, this may not be an issue. I hope this helps and good luck.

      Jason

  24. Angie says:

    We had new concrete poured for a patio. We did not tell them it would eventually be closed in as an interior room. One we enclosed the room, we had contracts put levelor on it, then we laid carpet. The room started smelling and we ripped out carpet. Needless to say the concrete wasn’t properly done for interior use. Are there any simple solutions to fix this aside from busting up the whole room and re pouring? Right now I’m having the deal with bare floor with levelor on it and it’s gets dusty. I don’t even like walking on it barefoot. I was hoping I could at least put a coating on it so it doesn’t feel so yucky, but thought that may cause more moisture Issues. I haven’t noticed it being damp since we pulled carpet out, but some of the levelor around edges have cracked. Thanks

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Angie:

      Thanks for the questions. There are mitigation type products that can be applied, topically, to the slab that will lessen the level of moisture that passes through, allowing you to install a finished floor. One issue may be that most will require application directly on top of the slab, not the leveler. I would consult a reputable flooring installer or flooring distribution business for potential recommendations. Good luck.

  25. Hello,

    We bought a used manufactured home a year ago and we took up the carpeted flooring this spring. We had installed a laminate locking floor after the carpet was taken up. Now we have a moisture problem. We went back to the people that did the work and they told us to get a dehumidifier, yes it pulls a lot of water out of it, but also the flooring is buckling and it makes creakibng sounds as you walk on it. We went back to the people that installed it and they said they will not come back and touch it until it is fixed. We have had several different people look at it and the last ones told us to keep the vents closed on the west side because a lot of wind and rains come in there. This is summertime and we have had not hardly any winter storms to speak of, but they will be coming because we live roughly a mile from the pacific ocean. I have talked with my neighbors and they do not have this problem as I have told you. Nobody yet has found the culprit and I’m getting more and more worried about this problem, because the fall and winter months are coming. We lived here last winter but then the floor was carpeted and nothing appeared, up until just recently after we had the laminate floor installed. My question is does it need to have a moisture barrier of some sort installed under those laminate planks??? I believe when I seen them being installed there was a light green paper or??? attached to the planks which would be the underside of them. We love the look but so far very unsatisfied with the results of the new floor and we want to know what can be done about it. We had a guy come out to inspect and NO leaks anywhere. But he was unable to see where the problem is. When we bought the house a guy went under the home to inspect and it came out in good shape. Now water——-would a “TRANSITION” help as the people that installed it said it might???

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Larry:

      Thanks for the questions. These questions you are asking about installation specifics i.e. moisture barrier under plank and transition strip, should be asked of the manufacturer of the laminate floor. Most have very specific guidelines for approved installations. Most floors of this nature have maximum dimensions before a transition is required to help with potential issues. Good luck.

  26. Jc says:

    Hi Jason. We bought a two story house three years ago. Six months ago we noticed a bad smell on the entire first floor. We also noticed some black spots through out all th ceiling of th first floor. I started cutting some of these areas of sheetrock and found out that the whole entire first floor ceiling has mold. We had previously removed all the first floor sheetrock, and removed the mold. We had painted the wood with some special paint to prevent this from happening again. We also had installed all new insulation on the first floor ceiling and walls. After we did this, we got rid of all the mold. The smell went away for couple of months. We noticed that the smell came back today. I removed a piece of sheetrock off of the garage ceiling. We then looked from the garage through the inside of the ceiling, towards the connected living room ceiling. When we did this, we found out that there was condensation on the inside of the ceilings again. (The garage and living room.) I also saw some mold on the new sheetrock. I don’t know what to do now. I brought an air condition company to see if that could be related to issues with my AC unit. I thought that maybe there might be too much humidity inside the house. They told me that it was ok. The second story floors, have laminate flooring. When we installed the second story floor, I installed a moisture barrier liner that was recommended by the hardware store where I bought it . Do you have any idea, what could be causing this? We know that the pipe work in the house are good, there are no leaks. That is why, I am wondering what else it could be. We live in the Houston area in Texas..

    • Jason Spangler says:

      JC:

      Thanks for the question. If you have taken out any potential variable for leaks, I would be looking at the potential for dew point issues, especially given you live in a high humidity climate like Houston. Ventilation can be critical in these instances. Make sure your roof has enough ventilation and some people will also install thermostatically controlled gable vents that push and pull hot air once the attic temperature hits a certain level. Doing this may help to diminish the potential for condensation. In the end, having a certified building inspector out there may be a good way to know, for sure, prior to spending additional money on fixes. Good luck.

  27. LilaSa says:

    Hi. We are having our hardwood floors replaced throughout the house due to a dishwasher leak that buckled a small area. Our one story house was built in 1959. When we bought it in 2000, we had hardwood floors installed in only a few rooms and tile and carpet in the rest. In 2009 we added on and remodeled the house and added hardwood to all areas other than bedrooms. The company that installed them is a very reputable company and we are using them again for the new floors. When they pulled out the hardwood floors, they did a moisture test and the moisture levels was very high. I am not sure exactly what tests were performed, but the guy mentioned something about a meter and a pin test. They got very high moisture readings in all areas of all rooms of the the original home/slab. Per their recommendation, we are having a plumber come out to do a hydrostatic test to make sure there isn’t a broken pipe in the slab. If there is not a leak then do we just have a high moisture slab? If so, has it probably always been this way? We have never had any problems with the hardwood floors or baseboards before. Do we need to have a barrier put on the floors before putting the wood back down?

    • Jason Spangler says:

      LilaSa:

      Thanks for the questions. As you stated early on in your question, you are dealing with an installer that you hold in high regard, so I would follow their and/or the various manufacturer’s suggestions to ensure a warrantable installation. It is common, no matter your locale, to find old slabs that have high levels of moisture. One of the main culprits for this is that IF a vapor retarder was used under the slab originally, it has probably degraded to the point that it is no longer effective, allowing for moisture vapor to move through the soil and into the slab. Even in dry climate areas, moisture vapor is present and can travel a great distance from below. Good luck.

  28. Lilasa says:

    I forgot to mention in my earlier post that we live in Austin, Tx and we haven’t had any rain in the past few months. Also, the floors we had and will be putting down are engineered unfinished wood that are glued down. Thanks

  29. Mike Buck says:

    Hi we seem to have a moisture problem with our laminate floor, it is laid on a concrete base the base was screed to level the floor and it has been down for about four or five years with no problems but recently we have noticed areas of water appearing on the floor overnight we have a de,humifier that collects quite a drop of water. Any ideas . Mike. uk.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Mike:

      Thanks for the question. I would first start by determining if this is a dew point issue. Utilizing a thermo-hygrometer, measure the relative humidity and temperature in the ambient (room) air. Enter those two numbers into a calculator like this http://www.dpcalc.org/ to determine dew point temperature. Next, take the surface temperature of the laminate with an infrared thermometer. At this point, compare the calculated dew point and the temperature of the laminate. The closer they are to each other, the higher the probability that condensation will form. Hope this helps. Good luck.

      Jason

  30. Heidi says:

    Hello, I’m installing engineered hardwood floor on a concrete slab. We had carpet there for 10 years without an issue. Would you recommend insulating the floor before placing the new floors down.? It is a bit chilly on your feet in the winter. Thanks, Heidi

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Heidi:

      Thanks for the question. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to the installation of insulation, prior to putting down the wood floor on concrete. I would consult a professional installer or contact the National Wood Flooring Association at nfwa.org. Another option you may think about is some type of radiant heat under the floor. Good luck.

      Thanks,

      Jason

  31. Luis R Vila says:

    HI Jason,
    I am replacing my wooden floors with solid wood floors. Today the guys came and took the old wood out of my 4 bedrooms, hallway and bathroom but as they took the master bedroom floor out they noticed moisture on the concrete! It is not very visible but as I run my fingers through some areas of the concrete I see the tip of my fingers are slightly wet. At first I thought it was a leak from the master bathroom or the windows but no water seems to be coming from either of those two places. The way they are installing the new floor is by first putting .5″ to 3/4″ of plywood and then nail the solid wood on top. I’m in a panic not really knowing what to do… Any thoughts? Thanks , Luis

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Luis:

      Thanks for the question. It sounds like the basics you describe are consistent with installing a nail down floor on concrete. As far as the moisture you were feeling, I would talk directly to your installer about that and see what he/she recommends. Good luck.

      Jason

  32. T.R. Fluker says:

    Hello Jason,
    Is it possible for vapor emission to cause water to actually puddle on top of the floor when the floor consists of VCT on a concrete slab? I understand the VCT has been down a couple years with no problems and all of a sudden water started coming out of the joints in the VCT. The slab is probably more than 50 years old and does not have a vapor barrier.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      T.R.:

      Thanks for the question. With no vapor retarder, vapor from the soil has a direct, unobstructed path to the slab. With the addition of moisture into the slab, a pressure differential develops with the ambient air, causing the vapor to want to rise in an effort to equalize the pressure. In these cases, moisture developing at the surface is definitely very probable.

      Thanks,

      Jason

  33. Thanks, Jason for your this kind of useful information. I’ve already suffered with my flooring moisture problem. I’m interested with your Rapid RH® 4.0 product. But I’ve a question that how to measure moisture.Thanks again

  34. Thank you for taking the time to provide such an informative and helpful post.

  35. Debbie Myers says:

    Hi Jason! Thank you for offering your guidance! We built our home 6 years ago. It has a concrete slab foundation and sits on a lot that is halfway down a slope, meaning that to the south of us there are homes sitting at a higher elevation, but behind our home the land slopes downward to a valley. We are having problems related to a high moisture level in our slab. The first problem that arose was that our original carpeting, a polyester “green” carpet, looked extremely worn within less than a year of it’s installation. The builder agreed to replace it. We used a nylon carpet and it has been ok. Also, there was cracking on our front patio – the builder agreed to install tile that we purchased to cover the cracks. Our home has mostly engineered wood flooring. The floors started to peel at the edges in the first year we were in the home. We thought it was wear and tear. Over the years this has gotten progressively worse. The wood has a 25 year warranty, so again I contacted the builder. They had a wood flooring specialist from NWFA come out. Using a pin-type wood moisture meter he tested the moisture levels at the surface and slab level. In 2 locations (front and back of house) the surface humidity level came to 9.3 and 9.4%. At the slab level the readings came in at 18% (back of house) and 20.8% (front). They also had a plumber test our lines – they all were fine. The builder declined to replace our floors saying that the slab moisture is high because we added a patio and pool on the back of the house blocking the moisture in the slab from escaping. (The sides and front of the house are not blocked in any way). The slab was not tested for moisture before the wood floors were installed – this builder “never does that”. I am not sure what direction to go at this point. Are there any tests that you would recommend? What do you think our next step should be? Thanks so much for your help with this!

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Debbie:

      Thanks for the questions. First, slab moisture tests are usually a required part of installing a floor based on the manufacturer’s specifications and in order to get a warranty. I would start with having the manufacturer come out and evaluate the claim. Depending on your satisfaction with a remedy after this, you may need to get a geotechnical engineer out to evaluate the claims related to the patio and pool. Good luck.

      Jason

  36. Kevin says:

    Hi are you recently had a flood in my kitchen a dishwasher pressure line broke and I have tile ceramic that was put over linoleum would it be possible that water would have gotten underneath the vinyl the insurance company does not want to remove it they said it was dry

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Kevin:

      Thanks for the question. It could be possible, but might not be very probable. If you have a concern, you may want to find your own building inspector to come out and evaluate it for you, not the insurance company. This may be the only way for you to be sure. Good luck.

  37. Michael says:

    Hello there, we live in Panama City FL where Hurricane Michael hit. We were a week from finishing our new home when wind driven rain flooded the house. Our master bath, closet, and laundry room are all tiles and had not been grouted yet. The moisture reading is 28 – 30%. The tiles are on concrete slab. How much moisture is normal in this situation? We were told up to 17% is acceptable for sheetrock, but I don’t’ think we can use the same standard for tiles on slab. Thank you

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Michael:

      Thanks for the questions and I am very sorry about your new house. Unfortunately, the 28-30% isn’t a scale that I am familiar with, nor is it a measurement scale utilized within the floor finishes community when speaking of concrete moisture. The usual scales will either be represented in relative humidity % when measuring in the concrete or in lbs of vapor emission when measuring on the surface of the concrete with a calcium chloride test. Sorry I can’t be more help.

      Jason

  38. Robert says:

    We installed a laminate flooring in a bathroom that was part of renovation that finished Spring of last year. We got the flooring from Home Depot. (It had like a rubber layer at the bottom) We just notice some kind of residue coming from underneath one or two of the planks. The residue is coming between two planks and it it’s about 2′-0″ in length and the planks is between the curb of the walk-in shower and toilet. The contractor had put down this light blue paint like thing on the slab before he put down the flooring. Do habe an idea what is happening? What is the residue? and How do we fix the problem.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Robert:

      Thanks for the question. I think first of all, since its under 12 months since the floor was installed (usually the warranty period) I would contact Home Depot and have them come out and evaluate the issue. I am wondering if it may be leakage from the shower or toilet or shower. Good luck.

      Jason

  39. Bobby Rogers says:

    Hi. I had my house retiled in Jan 2018. we did everywhere but the bathrooms and bedrooms. After approx 4 months i began noticing a white film in the grout line. This only happened in one room which we call our Florida room. I thought nothing of it at first and then i mopped the floors again and i would notice it again. I eventually got a grout scraper and scrapped for only about 2 mins and water shot up approx 10 inches high for about 5 seconds. After the pressure was released i was able to scrape out more grout. Water that smelled like vinegar continues to seep onto the floor over time. Now its been approx a year and we now have approx 10 different spots of that white chalk. I have had leak detectors out 3 times, numerous plumbers and even a scientist which my insurance company sent out. Nothing can be found leak wise. My insurance company has denied my claim so now I am at a loss as to who to contact or what my next step is. I live in So Fla and my house was built in 1967. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
    Also, this only occurs in our Florida room. And its only started since we replaced the old flooring which was laminate and before that it was carpet.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Bobby:

      Thanks for the question. I can’t say I have heard a story like this related to tile. I have seen something of this nature on a sports floor. The white spots are probably efflorescence which is salts from the concrete that are transported to the surface via excess moisture. Looking at the age of the home and/or the potential that the sunroom may have been added later, if I had to guess, there probably isn’t an intact vapor retarder under that slab. This would allow moisture to migrate from the soil and into the slab. With the carpet that was originally installed, it would have been very breathable and you may have never noticed an issue. I can’t explain why you wouldn’t have seen it with the laminate. You may want to have a geotechnical engineer come out to investigate. Good luck.

  40. Josh Handy says:

    Hello, we installed vinyl plank flooring directly on top of our concrete slab in the basement (the flooring is 100% water proof). A year later I noticed a section of the floor had moisture/water coming out of the cracks. I started to remove a section of the flooring and found there was a good amount of moisture/water under it. I am trying to determine the best way to fix this from happening. Is there a type of moisture barrier that should be installed before laying vinyl plank flooring on a concrete slab? Any recommendations on how to fix this issue with moisture occurring under vinyl plank flooring installed onto of a concrete slab? Thanks

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Josh:

      Thanks for the questions. Yes, there are products that can be installed prior to the flooring product to help with this problem. I would look for moisture mitigation products and a few of the bigger players in this space are:

      Ardex
      Mapei
      Uzin
      Koster
      AC Tech

      Whatever you chose, just verify that it will work against hydrostatic pressure. This may be part, if not all, of the issue.

      Jason

  41. Alan Vena says:

    Jason,
    I live in Orlando Florida and own a home built in 1979. I bought the house in 1994 and the seller had had the house carpeted. I was not aware of any moisture problems with the slab until about 2009 when I installed laminate with a vapor barrier. After a few years I noticed the laminate was warping and when I ultimately pulled the laminate up the slab was sopping wet under the vapor barrier.
    I put in a french drain around most of the house sump pumps and it seems to be working especially during heavy rains. As I installed the drain, I determined that the water table is very high in our neighborhood.
    I used dehumidifiers to try to dry out the slab, but the results were not uniform and some areas still had an RH 2″ down at 99% and some areas were 25%.
    I was looking for another product to permanently seal the slab and tried a product called Xypex. After going through the process, which took a month, I still had areas with high moisture levels through the slab and others seemed to be reduced. The Rep thought it was a poorly mixed concrete slab. 3 months out, I am trying to determine if this product worked. I don’t want to install tile until I am sure the moisture transmission problem is resolved.
    My question is, what is the best way to do this? I have an RH meter that will read down to 2 inches, but during the Xypex process, they require you to super saturate your slab, so at the moment it is reading 99.9% moisture at that depth everywhere.
    On the surface, it is a different story. When I use a pin moisture meter, of course it will read low moisture, but I was not satisfied with that. I then put plastic sheeting down sealing the sheet down with tape for 3 days, and I am not seeing either the amount of moisture that I expected. Many areas show no moisture under the plastic. I was thinking about reading the surface with a pin meter immediately after removing the plastic and compare that with areas that have not been treated.
    Do you have any suggestions on how I can reliably determine if this slab is indeed repaired and ready for tile?
    Thank you for any information you can give me.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Alan:

      Thanks for the questions. Most of the time when there is a “sealing” process being done on the slab for the purpose of diminishing moisture transmission, installers rely on the proper installation procedures and the claims of the product being used. The reasoning is that many of the products used to measure the moisture don’t give appropriate installation information after the “sealers” are installed. So the questions become, did you appropriately install the “sealer” you used, what claims does the manufacturer have in their installation documents (what is the maximum RH% the product will withstand and what does it claim to diminish the vapor transmission rate to). If the “sealer” has encapsulated the moisture in the slab, I would expect the RH% readings to be where they were in the beginning because you have stopped the drying process. In the same line of thought, the chemical make up of the product may skew the pin meter readings and the plastic sheet test may be showing nothing because the sealer is effective. This is one of the reasons why neither of these two types of testing methods are used in most flooring decisions, they can give very unclear results.

  42. Alan Vena says:

    Thank you for your response Jason. I agree with your conclusions on my readings when measuring internally in the slab. As far as applying the Xypex product according to instructions, my first application was low on product for square yard. I was supposed to see results in approximately 30 days, but I still was reading high levels of moisture on the surface. I then took all the original product off the floor and did a more limited application carefully measuring pounds of product per square yard. In the mean time, 3 months had passed and the areas from my first application appeared surprisingly dry almost like the process took longer than it was supposed to. I was in contact with a factory rep during this whole process and they suggested that the product is not guaranteed if you have voids in a poorly mixed slab. I suppose my bottom line question is if I am not seeing moisture under my plastic sheeting after 72 hours, does that necessarily mean that the product has worked to the point where I could install tile? Is there any test that is best for my situation?

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Alan:

      The plastic sheet test isn’t really meant to be a “go, no-go” type of moisture test. It is more of an indication test. In your situation, it may be best to install a small test area and see how it stands up. Unfortunately, there isn’t going to be an absolute test method to confirm effectiveness of “sealing” products. Good luck.

  43. Thank you for your valuable resources keep share the information like this…

  44. Linda Childers says:

    We are looking at house to buy that was built in 1988. The hardwood floors have dark spots throughout the house and we think it is a moisture problem. Is there any way to test this without taking up the floors? We would like to know before we buy the house. We will put down all new floors if the problem can be resolved.
    The house is on a slab in Tampa .

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Linda,

      Thanks for the question. You may be able to discuss this with the home inspector prior to purchase or, if you are serious about the purchase, it may be worth having a wood flooring inspector come out and evaluate. You can find one in your area at http://www.nfwa.org.

  45. Lucie says:

    Hi Jason,
    We had a new home built and moved in June of 2018. The engineered bamboo flooring as cupping when we moved in and buckled that November. Our windows had condensation and to where there was a puddle on my windowsills. We also have spray foam insulation, our air handler was oversized and running fast. When they slowed it down it seemed to help the condensation but the weather was also warming up at that time. We had all the flooring removed. The cement slab is still testing at a high level of moisture…32% Will we be able to have hand scraped engineered wood flooring? We have had 80 hours with the dehumidifier and blowers but still high moisture in the slab. We don’t know why it hasn’t been able to dry out.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Lucie:

      Thanks for the questions. Unfortunately, I am unaware of the concrete moisture scale you are referring to when you state 32%. The typically accepted concrete moisture testing methods for installing flooring are the calcium chloride test and the in situ relative humidity test. These give either lbs of vapor emission from the slab or an internal relative humidity. If the slab is truly wet, it would take more than 80 hours of dehumidification to dry it out. Your first step is to have a reliable concrete moisture test done. I would look here https://www.icri.org/page/ccsmtt_list to see if there are any certified moisture testing people in your area. Good luck.

  46. Andre Rosinski says:

    Hello Jason,

    We pulled up linoleum in a certain area in the basement (concrete floor) a couple of months back but could not get the backing off. I will take care of that soon but my question is since we bought the home with pet problems (regrettably) our painter sprayed the entire basement with Bin Zinnser including the linoleum backing 3 months ago. The smell from the Zinsser took a while to go away in the rest of the basement (all drywall and bare concrete floors) but the part where the linoleum backing is stinks just like at day one. I assume that the Zinsser is somehow trapped between the concrete and the backing, is that a reasonable assumption? Once we get rid of the backing do you suggest to treat or clean the floor somehow?

    Also, the rest of the basement seems to still have a slight smell of the sealer, I think it is coming from the concrete floor. Would it make sense to paint it just like you would apply a top coat to drywall that has been sealed?

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Andre:

      Unfortunately, I have never used or dealt with Bin Zinnser, so I am out of my element giving you any advice in this situation. Good luck.

  47. rosie says:

    HI

    I purchased a home that was remodeled in 2015. I’ve been in the home for 2 years. I have recently noticed a mildew smell in the bathroom. There are no signs of mildew on the walls but I am noticing the floor in the bathroom (ceramic Tiles) are moist and the flooring in the hallway near the bathroom is weltering or bubbling up ( floor is laminate wood flooring) What could be causing this and what and who should I Call? My home was build on concrete slab

  48. krista hilmen says:

    Hi Jason,
    We purchased our home in 2009 with basic flooring installed. In 2013 we replaced the downstairs area with laminate flooring. Over the years the flooring began to buckle and bubble. We pulled the floor up in November 2018 to find that the entire 1500 sf needed to be removed. The moisture barrier was soaking wet (as well as having mold build up). No one has been able to determine a leak or where the water is coming from. We have called in the builder and they told us that they would have sealed the floors had we “upgraded” the flooring with them. So we ordered a sealer online, sealed a portion of the floor (twice), waited 72 hours and then laid down sample vinyl planks on top of it. Within two days the floor was wet again under the sealed area. At this point we are not sure what to do. Is there a someone we could call to advise us? Do you have any recommendations going forward? At this point we really want to get floors installed but the continuous moisture is a problem.

    Thanks so much,
    Krista

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Krista:

      Thanks for the question. Typically a proper “sealer” isn’t a DIY job. There are different degrees of “sealing” and you really need to understand how much moisture there is in the slab before you can attempt to remedy. I would look for a reputable flooring installer that will perform moisture tests on the concrete and then provide you recommendations for a successful installation. Good luck.

      Jason

  49. Regan says:

    Hi Jason,
    I recently purchased a home built in 1984. The house had 6 year old carpet through out the home until the seller installed porcelain plank tiles (5/2019) everywhere except the bedrooms, which had carpet and the bathrooms which were previously tiled (no issues are noticed in either bathroom). We noticed efflorescence coming up through the grout lines in the newly installed tile. We had leak detection come out and determined that all of the windows were letting water in that dripped down on the slab almost immediately from spraying with a hose but found no other signs of a leak. We also had a moisture meter test and no one said that they detected moisture under the tile. We then pulled out all of the carpet in the bedrooms and all of the pads had moisture/water damage. We have since sealed the windows. The efflorescence is the worst in the front living room (which has a large window and is adjacent to the worst of the bedrooms with a moisture issue from a leaking window). Since we ripped up the carpet and let the slab dry out in the bedrooms, we have noticed that the efflorescence isn’t as bad in adjoining tiled areas but there are about 3 spots on the floor in the living room that a little bit of water is pooling in the grout lines. We would like to continue to install the tile in the three bedrooms. Our tile installer said he would scratch out the grout and replace with a better grout for sealing as well as roll down a moisture barrier before he installs the new bedroom tile. He is also going to pop out a couple of tiles in the living room to see what is going on in regards to the water pooling. Is it possible that water/moisture was trapped on the slab during install from the leaking windows? We don’t want to have this issue in the bedrooms as well. We live in Florida and it rained everyday during the summer, which is when this issue was noticed. I look forward to your advice. Thank you.

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Regan:

      Thanks for the question. First, I haven’t heard that there was any REAL moisture testing done on the concrete after the flooring was removed. My recommendation would be to do proper moisture testing of the entire slab and then make a determination about the types of products to use to remedy the issue. The recommendations by the flooring installer don’t sound out of line at all. Good luck.

      Jason

  50. Regan says:

    Thank you Jason. I really appreciate your time and thoughts on this. What specific moisture tests would you have performed and what type of company performs them?

  51. Jason Kivo says:

    Hi Jason,

    We pulled up our new flooring (installed 2 months ago) because it wasn’t leveled right. We had engineered wood and now waterproof vinyl. Under the waterproof vinyl we noticed small amounts of pooling waters in the small slab cracks that we have. Since we removed the vinyl flooring the water hasn’t come back. Dry as a bone as they say! I am wondering if this water is condensation from the humidity from our excessive air conditioning. We tried to blast water into our home from outside to see if that was the source but couldn’t make it happen. The water pooling was evenly found throughout the floor area. This tells me its probably that. I have a photo I wish I could post here. Anyway, do you have any thoughts on this? recommendations? I have concrete slab and flooring no vapor barrier.

    Thanks
    Jason

    • Jason Spangler says:

      Jason:

      Thanks for the question. I would think that if it was only related to the excessive air conditioning then the floor would still show signs of condensation, even without the flooring installed. It sounds like there may be excessive moisture in the concrete that, when the floor is installed, condenses on the surface because it can’t escape into the air due to the low permeable vinyl that is installed. Checking the moisture level in the concrete and also looking at relative humidity and temperature in the air vs the dew point would be the first things I would look at. Good luck.

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