Fixing Squeaky Floors

Project: Basement Finishing and Family Space, Episode 3, Part 3



Bob is in Melrose where John Ambrosino of Total Temperature Control installs the new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Because of clearance issues, the unit is installed horizontally and tied to the joists with steel rods. Ambrosino explains how the unit pulls air in for exchange, to be heated or cooled, then pushes it through a fan and into the ducts for circulation. The 16 SEER unit is very big for maximum efficiency, quiet operation, and up to 45 percent savings over current energy costs. Mark Hagan shows Bob the Trane CleanEffects whole-house three-stage air-cleaning system that cleans the air of 99.98 percent of particulates, filtering first for large particles, then charging the small particles and capturing them in a collection filter for healthy indoor air. Don Adams of Bond-Tite Tank Service shows Bob how they move the oil tank, reattach it, set it in a trough to catch leaks and drips, and apply Tank-Guard to isolate condensing water and prevent tank corrosion. Bob talks to Howard Brickman about how to control squeaking floors either by drawing the wood floor tight against the subfloor with screws, connecting blocking to the joists and subfloor from below, or shimming the space between the subfloor and joists.

Part 1: Installing and Explaining a Basement HVAC System
Part 2: Moving an Existing Oil Tank
Part 3: Fixing Squeaky Floors
Bob talks with Howard Brickman of Brickman Consulting about how to fix squeaky floors. Brickman first he checks the moisture level in the joists to make sure it is in a normal range. Changes in moisture content cause wood to shrink and swell, which contributes to making floors squeak. Brickman reviews some of the cross-bracing that has been put in place to help make the floor stiffer. Having floorboards that run at an angle rather than perpendicular to the joists gives the floor more strength. Brickman explains how to fix a squeak, by first determining where the squeak is located, either between the sub-floor and the top of the joist or between the wood floor and the top of the subfloor. Brickman thinks the problem is between the wood floor and the sub-floor based on the sound of the noise. Screws are driven from the basement into the sub-floor, pulling the wood floor and sub-floor above down and pressing them close together. A 2x4 is drilled into the top of the joist and the bottom of the subfloor to reduce the squeak by pulling the subfloor down tight to the joist. Brickman then discusses the use of shim shingles and construction adhesive to reduce squeaky floor noise when they are driven home between the joist and the subfloor.
Bob Vila helps a young family with an old house create family and recreational space for their active kids. Projects include replacement window installation, innovative plumbing solutions, and smart storage to make indoor and outdoor spaces ideal for this growing family.

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  • Episode 1 - Removing Unwanted Junk and Combatting Basement Moisture

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I'm Bob Vila.

Welcome to the show where our basement refinishing project is coming along nicely.

And today we're spending a fair amount of our time, doing rough HVAC type of stuff.

We are getting the boil tank wrapped and doing some changes to it, but we're also installing a brand new heating, ventilating and air conditioning system.

And we'll give you some tips on how to get rid of squeaky floors, as well as sealing the concrete slab.

Don't go away.

Remodeling a basement space to create play room or what ever in an old house usually means you're going to have a lot of old pipes and duct work to deal with.
And last week we showed you a little bit about what we had to do here in terms of removing some of that piping and rerouting others. And actually, bringing in new piping.

Because we've got a perimeter system to control any kind of water infiltration in from under, underground and that's part of it right here.

But anyway, this week we're talking about what you need to do in terms of heating, ventilating and air conditioning, HVAC. And we've already got most of the work done, thanks to our friends at Trane, and at Total Temperature Control here in Wakefield.

And last week John Ambrosino took us through the steps of installing all this equipment and helping us understand what it's going to do for us. Watch.

Hi, I'd like to explain. Our biggest twist is we took the system we had, and laid it horizontal. We measured from the floor to ceiling, we had 82 inches. And we needed 124.

So, we had to get a little creative. And we got a horizontal versus a vertical mount. Now, this allows us to attach the system to your roof rafters using threaded rod and finish that with armor flex covering it to give it some vibration elimination. We also use flux connections in both the supply and as we tie in, the return duct, which Matt is cutting out right now.

Now what happens by leaving it so it can move over a bit it allows any transmission to be eliminated so the home owner cannot hear any transmission.

Matty right now is cutting open the supply. This is where it all begins. Basically, what we do is take the unconditioned air from your home.

Run it through the return duct, which is going to be attached to the opening over there and it runs through your system.

And the first thing we're going to do is we're going to filter. What we do is we use a Trane CleanEffects filter and what this thing does, is take out 98. 98% of all particulates in the air. So all pollutants would be removed from the air, prior to getting conditioned.

First thing we do, is we go through our fan system. A fan system is a variable drive system. this allows the home owner to experience tremendous comfort, as well as save up to $500 a year with energy savings.

What we do is we program this fan to operate based on the duct work installed in the home owner's home. So we design each house differently.

As the air passes through this fan, it goes through. And if it's in heating mode our Beckett oil-fired furnace heats the heat exchanger, and indirectly heats the air going across it.

Passes through the dormant air conditioning coil during the heating side and goes out and gets distributed to the duct work throughout the home.

Now, what happens if it's in cooling, is, we do the same system. We come to the variable speed fan at a different speed, a much higher speed, to allow, to carry the air conditioning air we go to a now dormant heating system.

Go through our refrigerant coil, get conditioned, dehumidified, and pass through the rest of the home.

And what's interesting about this coil is, that again, as you can see a larger pipe
Is this suction line, that is where we turns back to the systems and this is the liquid line, this is the high pressure liquid that comes into our system, goes into a pipe which is connected to expansion valve, which I will show in a moment, it gets blast of to a cooler low pressure gas, and goes back to the system.

As you can come over here, I can show you this is the expansion valve, the
high pressure liquid enters the expansion valve, gets flashed off, goes through the distributor tube, and ends up filling the coil up with refrigerant, which absorbs all the heat and humidity in the air, so it can be conditioned well for the home.

Once it goes through here, felt the side it's conditioned and goes into the home

This is where our pipes originate from. Here's our suction line again and here's our liquid line.

This is our concrete pad.

What we did is poor a four inch concrete pad to accept our condensing unit.

Which the man is bringing in, as we speak right now.

As you can tell, it's a big unit.

It's a sixteen. SEER system.

To allow the homeowner to get the most benefit, and energy saving, cooling this coming season.

As you may have noticed, the system is very large. It's a four ton system. The reason it's so large is it's very efficient. And that's it's SEER value.

It's SEER is 16. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios is the pronunciation for SEER.

The system is larger because it is able to dissipate more heat from the system at a rapid rate, to save energy.

This system can up to 45% off your energy cost by it's efficient operation and design.

The system is whisper quiet , has a fan that dissipates heat from basically inside and dissipates it outside.

It's a very quiet, a very efficient system.

OK. So Mark Hagan's with us now to talk about indoor air quality right?

That's right, Bob.

And so the Trane filtration takes over at what point around here?

Well what we have installed here is the Trane
Need to fix, whole house filtration system. Whether you have an older home , or a newer home that's tightly sealed, indoor air quality is really important.

It is.

So we want to filter out all the particles, the dust, the pollen, the pet dander or anything that's in the air, that might effect a home owner and their health.

Yeah.

In the home.

Let me show you a little bit about how it works.

Now, the air that's circulated throughout the house is returning back down here through this area, right?

Yes, this is a return air.

Okay.

And the air comes into the unit here, and we have a three stage system, where we clean the air, the first stage is this pre-filter.
It's a one inch filter that catches the really big stuff.

It's already caught a bunch of stuff.

Yeah, it's already grabbed the big stuff.

Now what's this made out of, this filter?

Well this is a plastic mesh filter, and to clean it, you can wash it, or vacuum it.

But it's long lasting.

It's long lasting and reusable. You don't have to have a replacement filter.

Then there's a -

Then the next stage is A field charger that charges the small particles that pass through the air.

So is there like a low voltage charge in there, or how does that work?

Well we take low voltage power and convert it to a high voltage DC charge. So we get a good strong charge of all the particles that pass through the air.

And what's the point of charging the particles?

Because what we have is a collection cell that's the opposite charge.

Oh sure.

So it attracts the charged particles and captures those in this collection cell.

Terrific.

And we can remove a very very high percentage of particles in the air.

OK.

This is washable or you can vacuum it.

So then you don't have to go out hunt for replacement filters. So there's no cost associated.

That's a great benefit OK let me help you put them back together, because I want to turn this thing on. Shouldn't we clean...nah, we're fine. Now this whole aspect of the job is so important in terms of not just everybody, grown ups, but also kids growing up.

That's right.

And making sure that that everything is clean.

So, what happens in here?

We've got a variable speed oil-fired furnace and I'll go ahead and turn the system on. With a variable speed system, you get the very high efficiency with the 16 SEER outdoor unit, as well as quiet operation.

The motor will...

I don't hear a thing. Yeah.

That's really quiet.

The motor will ramp up and get to the speed and just air flowing exactly where it needs to be.

Excellent.

Well, thank you, Mark.

Thank you, Bob.

Here it comes now. Although our home owners had the opportunity to switch over to gas as a fuel, they decided to stay with oil, and one of the reasons is, they just replace their tank about two or three years ago.

So they had the fellows from Bontac, the company that installed it come out to move it from the corner where it was in the way of the new playroom into this location which will be just on the other side of a partition that goes up here in what is effectively our utility room.

And so not only they have they moved it, they've also provided this wonderful trough underneath, just in case there should ever be any problems.

Let's watch.

Before we move the tank, what we need to do is drain the oil from the tank, pump it out into the truck, and Vinny's doing that now. He removed the plug from the top of the tank. He's gonna put a hole into the tank, and start pumping out the. The oil.

Once we get the oil all pumped out, then we'll be able to moved the tank.

Now that the tank is empty we're going to remove the hose from the tank, shut the pump off, disconnect it, and start removing the fill pipe and the vent pipe from the oil tank. By doing that we need to unscrew the two unions from each pipe and remove sections of the pipe.

And then we'll be able to go to the next step which will be disconnecting the oil line from the tank to the burner.

Now we're going to remove the fill and the vent Pipe from the oil tank. To do this we need to unscrew the unions on each pipe. Vinny is unscrewing one union now, and he is going to remove pieces of the pipe, so we can get the tank out of the way.

Normally we don't recommend moving old oil tanks. But, we do know the history of this tank. We installed it two years ago. So, we feel comfortable about doing this.

We're going to set this tank in a tank tray. It's something the industry recommends today. On all new tanks, even retrofit old tanks.

It holds about 25 gallons and will catch any small drips or leaks that may occur over the years through fittings or tanks itself.

Once the tank is in place, we adjust the legs to make sure it's leveled. The tank is pitched about an inch and a quarter towards the outlet. Now that the tank is in place, we need to connect the fill in vent pipe back to the tank. We also need to make a couple of cuts, thread some pipe and a couple of adjustments.

The last step is to connect the fill pipe and the vent pipe to the tank and into position.

Well most people don't think about it, but these tanks all condense moisture as

much as your gasoline tanks in your car would. So, any oil tank over time condenses the moisture. The moisture falls to the bottom of tank, and it starts to attack the metal in the bottom of the tank.

So, sooner or later it's going to cause the tank to fail. The best way to protect the tank, is to put a liquid corrosion inhibitor in the tank. This little bottle doesn't mix with the fuel oil, it only mixes with the water condensate on the bottom of the tank, and it helps to protect the tank from corroding.

It'll get mixed up with the turbulence as the oil is delivered and it will protect the tank. And if you use our tank guard, a special benefit is, that it comes with a warranty that will provide for a new tank, if it fails. So when we're finished creating this playroom or whatever we call it, we're going to and end up with a room that is 30 feet across and about 12 feet in width.

And you know plenty big, for a couple kids, for a playroom.

But, one are the problems with old houses. We can hear it right here. Is it they often have squeeky floors.

So our floor maven Howard Brickman is with us today, to give us a few tips on how you figure out a solution to the squeaky floors. Hi, how are you?

Hi, Bob.

You are pinching the wood with a moisture meter, right?

Yes, the first thing we do on any job is we check moisture conditions to see if everything is within the normal range.

Now what role does moisture play in making a floor squeak?

Well, changes in moisture content cause wood to shrink and swell. And so, when wood shrinks, it moves apart and it also makes fasteners loose.

And so it will contribute much to movement and shrinkage and squeaking that occurs as the fasteners and the boards move against each other when weight is placed on them.

Sure, sure. OK, well this is. Good opportunity to look at the elements of the construction here. You're standing right over the cross bracing.

Correct. Cross spacing or bridging.

The bridging is basically there to tighten up floor joists.

It's to keep them from swinging back and forth as a load is placed on them. It makes a floor a little stiffer.

Right and then, the houses today are built with plywood as a subfloor. This is an 85-88 year old house, so we've got regular spruce boards running across.

I can't tell what the species is, but it looks like one by ten boards placed perpendicular to the joice. Its pretty common up until the 1950's.

In terms of plywood, and whether they laid like this perpendicular and angled, is one better than the other?

Generally speaking on the 45 or on the bias angle, it is superior because it gives a little more racking power or eliminates racking and movements.

Yes.

Makes for a very sturdy floor.

And OK, so then we've looked at joists, we've looked at cross bracing, and we've got sub-flooring on top of this, we're in the kitchen area, so it's an old maple floor, I think. But whenever the home owners walk in this area, if you're down here, you know they're in there.

Yeah, it's a pretty noisy floor.

Listen.

All right, so that pokes two pins into the wood, and you just hold it there for a second, and then I'll give you a reading on the moisture, right?

Correct. Can you get it there?

What's it say?

It says 14%.

That's a little higher than it should be, but it's a very rainy day today.

Right.

OK, but anyway, we know there's squeaking going on there, so what's the first thing to try to do to fix it?

Well, we tried to determine where the squeaking is occurring.

Right.

Is it between the sub-floor and the top of the joists, or is it between the wood floor and the top of the sub-floor?

Yes. OK, we got two layers of board so it could be between the two layers Of boards. Or it could be between the bottom of that, the bottom layer board and the joists.

Correct

What do you think? From the noise you were just hearing.

By the timbre of the noise, it's a kind of a low moaning sound. So it tends to be more of this, of a wood floor, sub floor noise. Whereas, the noise that you would get between the top of the joist and the sub-floor is generally a nail being rubbed. So that's got a higher pitch to it.

Right.

A lot sharper noise.

OK. So what's an easy fix?

For , for, for this sub flooor noise we've got, we're going to try and suck the wood floor down tight against the sub floor.

So your going to drive some screws right through the face of the subfloor into the finished floor up above.

How many do you put per board?

I'd say about four per square foot.

Alright.

So that'd be four across. Alright so, this could work for that problem, but what about if the problem exists between the top of the rejoice and the sub floor? How do you tackle that.

One approach Bob, would be to take a piece of two by four blocking and fasten to the what, two and a half inch screws?

Yes, three inch, these are actually three inch screws.

Now OK, so that's one more solution.

What about stuff like shim shingles or even, you know, construction at ease. Can that be of help?

I, really is helpful Bob, if there is a space between the top of the rejoice and the bottom of the sub-sole.

We would butter up the end of the shingle with construction adhesive and slide it between the top of the joist until it's tight and hammered in place.

Then, when the construction adhesive solidifies, It will take the stress out.

Sure.

Thanks Howie.

So Howard, I was going to ask you what you could do with an old concrete floor like this, to make it more waterproof, but it looks like you're just making it wet.

Well we're using water to make the material we're going to be putting on it more absorbent , and it's a sodium silicate with enzymes in it so that it penetrates into the concrete, and seals up the interstitial spaces in between the concrete.

Sounds like a very scientific approach.

So it just makes it denser so that moisture can't wick up.

As much as possible, yes.

And what do you call it again?

It's a product called Bone Dry and it's a sodium silicate.

Sodium silicate.

Thanks Howard for all the great solutions we're out of time.

Till next time, I'm Bob Vila.

Thanks for watching.

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