Homeowner tests own Lumber Liquidators flooring

Posted at 5:53 PM, Feb 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-15 20:00:31-05

Lumber Liquidators offered free air tests after a Sixty Minutes report found some flooring may have high levels of formaldehyde. While many South Florida homeowners say their air tests came back fine, that wasn't the case for a Port St. Lucie family. That started one woman on a journey to find out what's in her floors.

With dogs that shed, Brittany Pilallis installed Lumber Liquidators wood laminate in her house. She had it in almost every room from bedrooms to bathrooms.

That flooring kept Pilallis up at night after news reports that the flooring may not meet formaldehyde standards as advertised.

"We were really concerned," Pilallis explained.

Wondering if the flooring might explain her husband's mysterious illnesses.

"On and off flu-like symptoms," Pilallis said. "Major congestion. Sinus issues."

She says the issues started soon after they installed the floors.

"We knew it was the floors," Pilallis said.

Lumber Liquidators wasn't as easily convinced so Pilallis spent $1,000 on testing.

The first air test came back high for formaldehyde. So they aired out the house like experts suggest.

"How did that impact the test results?" Strathman asked.

"It lowered it," Pilallis said.

The levels were lower, but they were still elevated.

"So there was an issue with the air quality in our home," Pilallis said.

Lumber Liquidators didn't see it that way even though their air test at the home also showed higher than recommended levels of formaldehyde.

"It was frustrating. Who wouldn't be frustrated?" Pilallis said.

So Pilallis took matters into her own hands by turning frustration into something constructive.

"We weren't going to live with it. We just weren't," Pilallis said.

Her husband ripped up the flooring to get it out of the home while they waited on more lab results.

"Boy they sent out a lot of samples," explained air quality specialist Luis Smith.

"Do you typically see that from a homeowner?" Strathman questioned.

"No. They were very diligent," Smith said.

Smith looked at the family's tests results.

"I wouldn't be surprised if people living in this home have irritation and other problems," Smith explained.

The problem is -- lots of products in your home can put formaldehyde in the air. That's why this homeowner turned scientist and even tested the flooring.

"I wanted to make sure that's exactly what that was," Pilallis said.

The floor tests were mixed. One showed low levels of the dangerous gas. Another showed levels slightly above recommended levels. A third test done by Lumber Liquidators surprised Pilallis.

"Hold on, hold on," Pilallis said as she was on the phone getting the results. "Did you just say the results came back fine?"

Results that made it hard for Pilallis to hold back her anger.

"Oh God that pisses me off," Pilallis said as her raw emotions surfaced. "I'm frustrated. This sucks."

Lumber Liquidators wasn't going to help her because their flooring test showed acceptable levels of the dangerous gas.

"I am not crying wolf here and that's what makes me so angry. I have ample testing to prove from several different companies that it was not healthy," Pilallis said.

A Lumber Liquidators spokesman told the Consumer Watchdog, customer safety is a top priority. It uses third party testing and has a process in place that it recommends you follow before removing the flooring.

"That's ridiculous. You are basically telling me I am supposed to live in an unhealthy home?" Pilallis responded.

Lumber Liquidators says if there's something in the air it likely didn't come from their flooring. There are many other products in your home that can emit formaldehyde in the air.

Pilallis refused to stop fighting. Lumber Liquidators eventually agreed to reimburse Pilallis for the cost of her flooring allowing her to finally live in her home without worry.

Full statement:
"Customer safety is Lumber Liquidators' No. 1 priority. We have a program in effect to offer certain customers free indoor air quality screening using third party laboratories with consistent methodology that follows industry standards. The Pilallis family chose to do their own testing and removed their floors. After speaking again with them, despite not completing our process, we chose to make an exception in the spirit of our commitment to customer service.  We are pleased to have ultimately satisfied the Pilallis family.”