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Machinc
Machinc, General Contractor
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 374
Experience:  Has written home improvement articles since 2008. Earned South Carolina Residential Builders License in 1991.
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Relates to flooring. We had a mountain cabin built 8 years

Customer Question

Relates to flooring. We had a mountain cabin built 8 years ago (contractor has retired and passed away, so no warranty service!) The home is in the CA High Sierra, about 6000' altitude. It is vacant much of the year, so temp and humidity vary more than if someone lived there all the time. We are having a problem with the kitchen linoleum buckling (bubbling?) up. The entire floor (perhaps 7' x 9') has lifted as a giant bubble, perhaps 2-3" at the center, yet well-fastened at the edges. It's not just the sheet goods, the particle board underlayment has lifted as well. I suspect either the contractor didn't leave enough expansion space around the edges, or didn't sufficiently nail/staple off the underlayment, or both, but it's our problem now. :-( Short of pulling up the lino, or re-naling down through it--both requiring replacement of the floor (I didn't mention, but the same lino also runs down a 20' hallway and throughout a laundry room), is there any repair you can recommend? Thanks!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Dovetail Greene replied 1 year ago.

Hello.

My name's Kel.

 

Is there any sign of water intrusion around the area that's bubbled up?

 

Is the area that's bubbled up right over a pier that supports a major structural element like a column?

 

Is the rest of the cabin in good shape?

Meaning the floors are level?

There're are no significant cracks in the foundation?

Have there been any earthquakes in the area?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

My name's Kel.


 


Hi Kel; thanks for writing:


 


Is there any sign of water intrusion around the area that's bubbled up?


 


No, none.


 


Is the area that's bubbled up right over a pier that supports a major structural element like a column?


 


No


 


Is the rest of the cabin in good shape?


Meaning the floors are level?


 


Very good shape. It is almost new and of generally very high quality. The entire structure was engineered for high snow loads--we sometimes see 15-20' of snow--so all 12-in-12 pitch roofs, extra strong foundation, etc. It was all built strictly to code, and passed all inspections when built in 2005. It was carefully inspected by our insurance company as recently as last Summer, due to very deep snow Winter-before-last. No damage, no cracks, no anomalies.


 


There're are no significant cracks in the foundation?


 


No, none.


 


Have there been any earthquakes in the area?


 


Again, no. None.


 


The bubble in the floor does not relate to uneven, sloping or buckled floors. It is clearly filled with only air, can be pressed back down smooth and level. Then it pops back up when you get off it!


 


Thanks!


 


Dave

Expert:  Dovetail Greene replied 1 year ago.

Is the flooring real linoleum or vinyl or a laminate?

 

Is the 2 - 3" bubble figure a measurement or an estimate?

 

You describe it as a bubble --

is there any other shape at all --

say elliptical following the line of an underlayment seam.

 

Do you have access to the structure under the floor?

Is the floor built with sawn lumber joists, trusses or Truss Joists?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Is the flooring real linoleum or vinyl or a laminate?


Vinyl


Is the 2 - 3" bubble figure a measurement or an estimate?


2-3 inches is the estimated height; the diameter is maybe 4' x 5'


 


You describe it as a bubble --


is there any other shape at all --


say elliptical following the line of an underlayment seam.


Possibly. Its basically the entire clear space in the (smallish) kitchen


 


Do you have access to the structure under the floor?


Yes; crawl space trapdoor is only a few feet away; everything looks fine from underneath. Checking on substructure (my brother happens to be there today)


Is the floor built with sawn lumber joists, trusses or Truss Joists?


 


It is sawn lumber 2X10's with 5/8 T&G ply, then 1/2" Underlayment.

Expert:  Dovetail Greene replied 1 year ago.

The only things I can think of are either the flooring adhesive skinned over slightly before the vinyl was laid and there was a weak bond that's failed

or if it was an acrylic adhesive it may have froze

or the roller wasn't heavy enough

or the vinyl was substandard and the walking surface separated from the backing.

 

If the vinyl has a pattern a flooring contractor may be able to cut out the bubbled piece and reinstall.

 

If there's no obvious pattern element to hide the cut then have a new piece of vinyl cut that compliments what's there.

 

Does this make sense?

Have I answered your question?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

If the problem were only the vinyl lifting from the underlayment, I would consider using a hypodermic syringe to inject glue just under the vinyl, but the problem is, the vinyl is still holding onto the underlayment--it's the underlayment which has come away from the subfloor--both are bubbling up together.

Expert:  Dovetail Greene replied 1 year ago.

Pardon me.

I forgot that part.

 

I'm guessing someone forgot to nail either the subfloor or underlayment in that area.

Or rather.

The piece was tacked, but not fully nailed.

[Might have also used too few too short fasteners.]

 

So the vinyl in the area will have to be removed.

If you can reuse then three sides need to be cut.

It can then be rolled out of the way on the fourth side.

 

The underlayment properly nail and reinstalled.

 

Will need a scarifying machine to go over the old adhesive before reinstalling.

 

You might get a price for just laying a new floor over the old bubbled part.

That would entail laying new underlayment over the bubble then new vinyl then deal with any transitions.

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
This expert seems a nice guy and he likely knows his trade, but I asked a question which requires a tricky solution--something only an expert with many years behind him might know. This expert asked me more than 20 clarifying questions, then offered a solution entirely "by the book" as well as expensive and invasive. I already knew how to do it badly before I asked the question. No offense and as I say, he's probably a great guy; just not the one I need for this issue. Thanks
Expert:  Dovetail Greene replied 1 year ago.

I don't know what to say.

 

Almost my entire practice is based on finding unique creative solutions to clients' problems.

Sometimes there no magic.

 

The vinyl has stretched and it's going to be impossible to relay it so it'll match the rest of the floor.

 

Most installers with enough skill to reset it probably wouldn't warrant the repair.

 

Having been in similar situations in the past

sometimes it's less expensive or just slightly more expensive to replace rather than repair. Sometimes replace will look better and last longer than repair.

 

My experience tells me that's what's going on here. . .

 

Hope you get it resolved.

 

I'll opt out.

 

Dovetail Greene, General Contractor
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 312
Experience: Licensed Building Contractor & Certified Building Designer
Dovetail Greene and 3 other Home Improvement Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Machinc replied 1 year ago.
To repair this problem without being intrusive would not produce a satisfactory repair . When something like this happens the only way to do it right is to remove the vinyl or whatever , inspect the underlayment remove or repair as needed. Use screws to attach the underlayment to the floor joists . Replace with new floor covering. Carpet, vinyl etc. this is not the answer you want or asked for but this is what it is going to take to do it right. No one including yourself can know what caused this problem without taking it apart and visually inspecting the area.It is not hard and could be done by the average person who likes to do it their self.
Machinc, General Contractor
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 374
Experience: Has written home improvement articles since 2008. Earned South Carolina Residential Builders License in 1991.
Machinc and 3 other Home Improvement Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 12 months ago.

This reply is for Kel: You have my sincere apologies, Kel. I was given to understand that the "relist" comments were confidential and for JustAnswers staff only. I would NEVER have put it so bluntly otherwise. I apologize for the language and I thank you for your knowledge and professionalism, and for your considerable time on my issue.

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