Humidity forces repairs to new floor in Scarborough High School gym

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SCARBOROUGH — Scarborough High School’s new wood floor in Plummer Gymnasium is on the mend after high humidity caused it to swell and buckle, a flooring company representative said Wednesday.

Installers from Connor Sports Flooring laid the new floor in March, after water from a burst pipe caused massive damage to the 20-year-old existing floor. The cost of labor and materials was completely covered by the school’s insurance.

Although the floor was installed with 1/16-inch expansion joints every 1.5 feet and a 1.5-inch gap around the perimeter to allow for adjustment during the first year, the summer’s high humidity caused excessive expansion, Jim Zorbis, of Connor Sports Flooring, said.

“The relative humidity should not exceed 50 percent or a fluctuation of more than 15 percent in a 24-hour period,” he said. “The space doesn’t have air conditioning so there’s no way of regulating the temperature and that is the main issue here.”

Though the school has an air handling system, Zorbis said it draws from the outside air, which can actually exacerbate the problem. Because of this, School Department Facilities Director Norm Justice said he kept the exchangers on low and, at times, had turned them off.

When the problem was discovered, Justice said he notified the company, which responded immediately.

“I’m confident we don’t have a long-term problem,” Justice said. “They had their engineers all over it.”

Workers trimmed the perimeter edges to allow for additional expansion. Zorbis said he has recommended Justice use a dehumidifier in the space to help stabilize the floor.

“Norm has done everything we’ve asked to get this floor back the way it needs to be,” Zorbis said. “He’s been great about accommodating our requests.”

When Justice investigated new floors last winter, he said he didn’t do it alone.

“I didn’t make the decision by myself; I involved the superintendent and the assistant superintendent and they supported it. I also talked to the capital improvements committee,” he said.

Justice said he also received excellent references for the company and the installers.

Connor Sports Flooring was selected by Justice, Superintendent David Doyle and then-Assistant Superintendent Andrew Doloff after they reviewed all the bids, Doyle said Wednesday.

“We opted for this company because one of the factors was the five-year warranty,” Doyle said.

At just under $102,000, it was also the least expensive. According to Justice, there were three other bids, all with one-year warranties, from two additional companies: almost $115,000 from Space Designs; and nearly $124,500 and $129,000 from American Sports Floor.

In addition, the flooring they selected is a “green” product, compliant with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. Called Green Play, the floor uses a recycled sneaker cushioning system, recycled engineered polymer sub-floor panels and wood components free of added urea-formaldehyde.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or