It’s installation day. You arrive at the jobsite expecting the wood floor planks to be acclimated fully and ready to go. But as a thorough professional, you still check the planks with a moisture meter. That’s when you notice the wood is a few percentage points above the needed moisture content.
The HVAC system has been off, shifting the environmental conditions and affecting the wood. Shaking your head, you realize you probably will have to wait another week to install. You could install now, but you know that without proper acclimation, you’re putting the floor at risk of future damage. And that’s not an option that meets your standards.
If only you’d been able to catch the problem sooner. And you could have – with the right tools. In this article, we’ll look at how data loggers can help you monitor acclimation conditions to avoid these frustrating scenarios.
But first, why does acclimation even matter?
A Crucial Step in Preventing Wood Moisture Damage
Moisture is enemy number one of wood flooring. More than $1 billion is spent every year repairing flooring failures due to excess moisture coming up from a concrete subfloor. Concrete moisture isn’t the only problem, though.
The wood planks themselves must be at the right moisture content for their final environment – a number known as the equilibrium moisture content (EMC). The EMC is the moisture content the wood will reach at a certain temperature and relative humidity. If the environment shifts, the wood will shrink or expand accordingly.
The result? Warping, cupping, or gapping.
To avoid damage, you (and later the homeowner) must keep the home environment consistent – somewhere between 30 and 50 percent relative humidity and 60° and 80° F.
To determine the EMC using an EMC chart, you just need to know the temperature and relative humidity of the jobsite. For example, a home with a relative humidity of 40 percent and temperature of 70° F would have an EMC of 7.7 percent. Then, simply allow the floor planks to acclimate to that number for a successful installation. However, a shift in the environment could affect the acclimation process. That’s where environmental data loggers come in.
How Data Loggers Make a Difference in Acclimation
Environmental data loggers are crucial for ensuring a space remains at the right temperature and relative humidity for acclimation. Once the wood acclimates to the EMC, you won’t have to worry about it shifting (as long as those conditions stay the same). That’ll save you time and the frustration of dealing with flooring damage later.
A data logger provides you with the space’s ambient temperature and relative humidity measurements. It takes readings at set intervals so you can have a record of those conditions. Many newer loggers can connect to a smartphone app. Then, whenever you’re at the jobsite, you can sync this information to your device for review.
Even more convenient, some data loggers use cellular networks so you can monitor the room conditions from anywhere and at any time. The knowledge you gain from the data logger will benefit your work in many ways. For one, you’ll be able to quickly catch any changes in environmental conditions that could hinder the acclimation process. Thus, you’ll be able to make sure the floor reaches the EMC, preventing damage later.
Make Environmental Data Loggers Part of Your Installation Package
Adding an environmental data logger to the package before your installation will prove beneficial as you acclimate materials, install the floor, and guide your customer in maintaining their floor.
You’ll impress your customer with how thorough you are and up-to-date with the latest technology. You’ll equip them with a tool to be responsible for their floor. Most importantly, you’ll save so many troubles – wasted acclimation time, floor damage, and the cost of repairs. The floor you installed will stay beautiful for years to come.
Jason Spangler, sales manager for Wagner Meters, has more than 25 years of experience in sales and sales management across various industries. He has launched various products successfully to the market, including the original Rapid RH® concrete moisture test. Spangler has extensive industry involvement, including the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), the International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI), and is vice chairman of associations for The Flooring Contractors Association (FCICA). For more information about Wagner Meters, call 800.505.1283 or visit wagnermeters.com.