Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

The House Detective by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector

Dear Barry: We installed new hardwood flooring on our concrete slab floors about 12 years ago. Last winter, we began to notice darkening and buckling of the wood flooring in one area of our hallway. A contractor made some holes in the nearby walls to see if there was any plumbing leakage, but he found no pipes in those walls and everything was dry. So now we have two questions. Should we replace the bad floor-boards before selling the house? And if we leave the floor as it is, will this scare off buyers? Miriam

Dear Miriam: The buckling and darkening of the hall floor-boards are definitely moisture-related, but this is not likely the result of plumbing leakage. A more probable cause is seepage of ground moisture through the concrete slab, possibly at small hairline cracks. This sometimes occurs when the installer of the wood flooring lays the boards without placing a moisture-proof membrane on the slab surface. You can talk to a wood-flooring contractor about possible repairs, but new replacement boards will most likely not match the existing ones. Another solution is simply to disclose the problem to the new buyers when you eventually sell the home. Buyers have differing reactions to disclosed defects. In fact, buyers are often willing to accept defects that are honestly represented, especially if the house is to be remodeled or redecorated anyway.

Dear Barry: We installed new hardwood flooring on our concrete slab floors about 12 years ago. Last winter, we began to notice darkening and buckling of the wood flooring in one area of our hallway. A contractor made some holes in the nearby walls to see if there was any plumbing leakage, but he found no pipes in those walls and everything was dry. So now we have two questions. Should we replace the bad floor-boards before selling the house? And if we leave the floor as it is, will this scare off buyers? Miriam

Dear Miriam: The buckling and darkening of the hall floor-boards are definitely moisture-related, but this is not likely the result of plumbing leakage. A more probable cause is seepage of ground moisture through the concrete slab, possibly at small hairline cracks. This sometimes occurs when the installer of the wood flooring lays the boards without placing a moisture-proof membrane on the slab surface. You can talk to a wood-flooring contractor about possible repairs, but new replacement boards will most likely not match the existing ones. Another solution is simply to disclose the problem to the new buyers when you eventually sell the home. Buyers have differing reactions to disclosed defects. In fact, buyers are often willing to accept defects that are honestly represented, especially if the house is to be remodeled or redecorated anyway.