This cabin season we had noticed a few shifts in the floor. They were a little squeakier with the odd wobble . It had been a bad winter and chalked it up to frost heaves. One spot in the bathroom seemed to get worse each week. At first it was a squeak, then a wobble , then a bounce until this weekend we decided time to fix the wonky area. We wiggled out one piece of laminate and it was a bit spongy underneath. At further examination my husband decided we would replace the wood from the area where it seemed a little soft and put a concrete pier under it for good measure. Off we went to Home Depot expecting an hour fix when we got back to the cabin.
Back at the cabin we decide to feel around a bit more. We lift back vapour barrier and pull out a few more pieces of the laminate flooring, the sheeting is soaking wet, so wet it starts to crumble as you touch it. Our hands are down the hole and it is wet in every direction. My husband keeps exploring trying to form a game plan and comments that the damp goes under the vanity . I comment that maybe we should look on the other side of the wall just in case. We slide the air hockey table out of the way, step near the wall and the floor gives way. Not good.
We slice out a couple pieces of laminate, carefully, because I have this crazy notion that it will go back in place. My husband reassures me it isn’t going back in, but I still draw a perfectly straight line to cut along. If two holes in the floor isn’t bad enough, finding rotten joists just adds to the drama. If rotting joists aren’t drama enough, the ones are the ones supposedly supporting a wall.
I think at this point we can say we have a problem.
We start walking around the one part of the cabin and start to notice more bouncy parts. More in the bathroom, one in the kitchen, all in a straight line.
All in a straight line that leads to our hot water tank (and the floor right in front of it is spongy too!)
We start to figure out what had happened. The beams on the bottom still seem dry and fine, but the ones closest to the floor are soaking wet. All we can think is it is hot water tank related when we look at where it is wettest . We think back to a few years ago. My husband was up at the cabin one February checking on the cabin. He called me from the cabin and said the hot water tank looked funny, but as it was winter and we had drained it off we thought “frost heaves” and never thought anything of it. Right after Thanksgiving every year we empty our hot water tank, empty our 1250 gallon water tank, unhook our pump and take it home, so a water issue doesn’t happen. Once spring had come and we again could use water at the cabin ( we use water May-Oct only because of freezing ) we decided the tank didn’t look right and planned to replace it.
Replacing a water tank at a cabin is no easy task. After multiple phone calls over a couple of years, this June we eventually got a plumber who would come to our area and replace it. We were thrilled as we had been washing dishes with boiled water. We mentioned the bouncing laminate to him as we chatted , and he said it was solid under the tank. So all was good and fixed.
Looking at the floor, and the direction of damage, all we can conclude is that somehow there must have still been water in the hot water tank that one winter . We drained it until it was dry, but that is our only guess as to what has happened. Out of the habit of having hot water, there haven’t even been any showers or baths this year, so the water isn’t from that. But here is the peculiar thing, the winter when my husband came across the wonky tank there was no water on the floor. It was -30C, it should have been a skating rink in the bathroom, but there was nothing. All we can guess is that the water, if there was some left trapped in the tank, must have flowed under the bath tub and then soaked into the wood like water does with a sponge . It is the only place it could have gone and not been seen.
It is so weird to have never seen any water. You could not imagine the surprise we had today finding the rot and soaking wet wood.
Now we have the task of seeing how far the damage has spread. Now that a few pieces of laminate have been removed we are finding more and more soft spots . It was as if the laminate floor was holding the whole structure together. All this damage happening under our feet and we had no idea. We had noticed something was off since May. We thought the cabin had shifted in the winter and had been watching the joins by the ceiling for signs of shifting ……… and there were none. Were we ever looking in the wrong spot, we were looking up when we should have been looking down.
Who would have thought there would be such a disaster lurking under a floor board .