Testing, training, Texas

Connections fit members to a T

Lee Senter, CFCRA president

Moisture testing of concrete substrates is mandatory for most flooring installations. The manufacturers require it. The industry standards specify it. Yet it is a skill that few flooring installers have.

As a matter of fact, most installers do not have the equipment to perform such testing.

There are four methods that are used to test for excessive moisture in concrete.

The first method that may be employed but would not necessarily be accepted by a manufacturer is known as a mat test or ASTM D4263. The test is relatively easy. The test method involves taping an 18-inch (460 mm) square of polyethylene film onto a concrete slab and waiting at least 16 hours. Afterward, the underside of the sheet is examined for signs of moisture. Any moisture condensation or observable darkening of the colour of the concrete underneath the sheet suggests excessive moisture and means the slab is not ready for a moisture-sensitive floor covering.

The second method used is with a concrete moisture meter. Most flooring manufacturers do not specify or accept this method of confirming a concrete substrate either. A true concrete moisture meter typically has a spring-loaded sensor pad instead of the more common flat pads. These meters can read moisture content of concrete down to approximately an inch or more below the surface. The meter can read up to 6-7 percent moisture content. Acceptable moisture content is typically between 2.5-3.5 percent with some latitude being given to concrete poured in the previous 12 months.

The third method is known as the calcium chloride test, ASTM F1869. This method is widely accepted by the flooring industry as an acceptable method of testing for concrete moisture. The problem with performing this test is twofold. The process of this test creates hazardous respirable silica and some provinces have a regulation with strict exposure limits. The other issue with this method is that it requires three trips to the site to perform and is complete after a minimum of three and a half or four days.

The fourth process and the most popular method is the ASTM F2170 RH in-situ probe test, also known as the relative humidity test. This involves making holes in the concrete that are 40 percent of the depth of the slab. A sleeve is then inserted in the hole and capped for 24 hours. After waiting for a day, a thermo hygrometer or similar probe is inserted in the sleeve and the relative humidity of the slab is taken to ascertain whether the concrete is dry enough to accept the proposed flooring type.

With the influx of new flooring types, most of which are impermeable and trap moisture under them, the requirement of performing moisture testing is more important than ever before.

The CFCRA is partnering with the ICC group of over 500 flooring retailers to allow easy access to inexpensive probes to perform relative humidity testing of the concrete and of the ambient air. We will also be offering free training on how to perform the testing. Any CFCRA member can ask the association for free in-house training on this method. We hope that members will take us up on this and that others will want to join the association to obtain this benefit.

The CFCRA is also holding four IICRC classes that are rarely held in eastern Canada. On July 10 and 11 we will be holding a Commercial Carpet Maintenance class. On August 7 and 8 we will be holding a Repair and Reinstallation Class. On September 10 and 11 our friend Randy Pierce will come up and do a Colour Repair class. And on October 15 and 16 I will be teaching an Upholstery and Fabric Cleaning class.

All of these IICRC classes are buy one, get one free for CFCRA members. If you are not a member or would like join, we would offer you a free class if you join the association.

Our vision statement: To provide our members a platform to foster a standard of excellence. To raise the awareness of proper moisture measurements and mitigation of flooring substrate Our mission statement:

To engage, inspire and strengthen our related industries through services, best practices and events.

To make available floorcovering information, such as cleaning and inspection services to the consumer and information on installation related failures of the same.

Last but not least, I want to remind everyone of the Certified Flooring Installers (CFI) Convention with the 1st Annual Convention Golf Tournament August 21-23 in San Antonio, Tex. Registration is open at www.cfiinstallers.org/cfi-convention.

The Canadian Flooring Cleaning and Restoration Association (CFCRA) was preceded by the Flooring Institute of Ontario (FIO), a not-for-profit organization which proudly served the needs of flooring industry professionals in Ontario since 1962.

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