Homeowner's Maintenance Guide: HVAC & How It Can Limit the Effects on Hardwood Floors

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August 15, 2019

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effects on hardwood floorsThe indoor environment in your home can cause a variety of effects on hardwood floors. How these factors impact flooring depends to some extent on the operation of your HVAC system.

Wood is an organic material and, even when installed indoors, continues to respond to natural influences, particularly humidity. Here’s how this specific factor causes certain effects on hardwood floors, as well as some ways your HVAC system can limit them.

Humidity: How Much Is Too Much?

As hardwood absorbs water vapor from the air, it naturally swells. Dimensional expansion causes numerous issues. Boards become slightly wider and also extend slightly in length. Adjacent boards fastened in place enlarge and exert pressure against one another, causing the smooth, uniform floor to distort and both look and feel uneven. Cracking may also appear due to the increased stresses. This phenomenon tends to occur as humidity rises above 55%.

How Your Air Conditioner Helps

The evaporator coil in a central A/C extracts water vapor from indoor air to make the cooling process more efficient and effective. When an air conditioner is properly maintained with annual preventive maintenance and regular air filter changes, the humidity control function is optimized. This keeps the indoor environment within the desired range for both home comfort as well as the stability of wood flooring.

When Humidity’s Low ...

Cold weather usually produces drier air. If indoor humidity drops below 35% consistently, wood flooring may lose natural moisture content and tend to shrink. This causes noticeable gaps laterally between flooring boards and also at the ends of boards where they meet the wall. Dry wood also splits and splinters easier and incurs more wear and tear.

Boosting Winter Humidity

A whole-house humidifier directly installed in home ductwork adds water vapor directly to the HVAC airflow that circulates through the entire house. A precise relative humidity setting can be entered on the humidistat and the system continuously maintains that level, protecting wood flooring and also alleviating annoying allergic symptoms common in dry conditions.

For professional HVAC service to help limit humidity's effects on hardwood floors, contact Hartman Brothers.

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