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One of the question I am often asked as an inspector is what are national Inspection services. National inspection services are companies that solicit manufacturers to administer their inspections process. They receive the inspection request from the manufacturer and then choose what inspector to assign that inspection request. The inspector then does the inspection, submits the report to the inspection service who reviews the report and then submits it to the manufacturer/commissioning party.
This is where there can be a disconnect in the inspections process. Once the inspector submits the report some inspections services make changes without the inspectors approval. Sometimes those changes alter the conclusion of the report. When you receive a report from an inspections service there is no way to determine if the end result is the word of the inspector or the conclusion a claim service made to protect their customer, the manufacturer.
It is for this reason that I recommend only working directly with the inspector. That is the only way to be sure you are getting the conclusion of the person who was onsite, inspecting the flooring. If a manufacturer does commission an inspection from a claims service it is highly recommended you talk directly to the inspector. He/she will not be able to discuss the specifics of the claim with you due to confidentiality, however if the conclusion you received was different than the one submitted, then the contract is broken and the fraudulent changes can be discussed.
It is interesting the number of claims that are inspected due to expansion and contraction. Wood, laminate and bamboo all have coefficients of change. That is the numerical value placed on the amount a product expands and contracts due to moisture gain and loss. The coefficient of change is constant but the amount of visible change is greater in wider boards. So if an installed board contracts 1% the gaps will be larger in a 5" board than a 3" board.
The reasons the boards gap can be installation, manufacturing or site related. The true cause for your cupping, gaps or buckling can only be determined with a site inspection by a certified hardwood floor inspector.
Floating floors are one of those changes in the industry that have been a blessing and a curse. One of the blessings with the floating floors is they are much more conducive to DIY installation. It doesn't require many special tools, it is fairly easy and doesn't require a lot of time. In this time of economic uncertainty floating floors have offered a less expensive way to redo your flooring without the additional cost of an installer.
The down side of the floating floor installation is there are serveral easily avoided issues that can make the project fail and ultimately cost more. One of those issue happened on a job I recently inspected. The flooring was developing side gaps, some of which were very wide (5/8"). I noticed a built in window seat on one end of the room. When I lifted the lid I discovered the builder had screwed the front panel through the flooring. The screws prevented the contraction of the floor during dry winter conditions and the resulting tension pulled the planks apart. Floating floors will not expand and close the gaps therefore the entire installation has to be removed and reinstalled.
One of the interesting parts of my jobs is correcting the things others have messed up. I had an inspection a couple weeks ago where a carpet cleaner using a Rotovac had distorted the pile of a commercial level loop. The distortion looked like swirls running across the main hallways. I recommended the cleaner reset the pile with heat and agitation. I received a phone call this week that the correction was unsuccessful and would I correct the issue for him. I went to the location. And heated the pile with a truck mounted extractor and pile lifted. The consumer was very happy with the correction and the company I brought in with the truck mount picked up a new cleaning contract.
Many times consumers express concern about their commercial carpet tile because of fraying along the edge. This issue generally appears in the high traffic areas first and usually within a couple months of installation.
I had a job like that today in a restaurant and micro brewery in central Wisconsin. The carpet in the traffic areas and under the tables was fraying along the length of manufacture, perpendicular to the yarn rows. The affected tiles were sheared using a pneumatic carpet carver after the correction the frayed appearance was completely corrected.
Yarn fray on commercial carpet tiles is not considered a manufacturing defect and is routinely corrected with shearing.