Does your house have floors that are cracked or sagging? Before you install new floors, make sure you talk to a foundation expert. It’s possible you have foundation problems. Sagging floors will negatively impact the convenience, safety, and property value of your home.
When you have sagging floors, you may notice a dip in the middle of a room or area. Decorations and glasses can rattle when a person passes by, or boards may squeak in a certain area.
If you suspect you have sagging floors, read on to find out how you should deal with them.
What are causes of sagging, bowing, or bending floors?
Inadequately supported central beam.
Floors may begin to sag if the posts supporting the central beam are spaced too far apart. The central beam would then be undersized and must span too long a distance between the posts.
Most houses with a crawl space have floor joists that span the house’s width. The central beam provides support to these joists. A series of posts then supports the beam. If any of these posts settles, shifts, or rots, the central beam will lose its support. Consequently, the beam will sag. The weight above may also cause it to become springy.
Settled foundation wall.
If a floor is sagging on one side of the house, it’s because the foundation on one side of the house has settled. This problem is common in older homes. It occurs because of the soil beneath your home shifting and moving. In Texas, this is very common due to our expansive soil.
How to check for sagging floors?
Uneven floors in homes could be a sign of foundation issues. Causes of foundation problems include:
- Poorly designed slabs and foundation.
- Failed leveling shims, particularly if they were made of low-quality material.
- Settled and sinking slab.
- Cracked foundation, causing cracks in the slab.
- Heaved-up and moved slab.
There are several ways to check for sagging floors. According to experts, the first thing to do is to stretch a piece of string across the floor. The string should be level. When done right, this should show you how curved the floor is.
The slope’s nature and direction can give the first clues about your home’s foundation issue. For instance:
- If the floors on the first floor of a multi-story house are sloping, it likely means that joists are damaged, or support posts are missing.
- A floor that slopes significantly in one direction could be a sign of foundation settlement or damage.
- If only a certain area of the floor is sloping, it could mean that posts, joists or girders that support that area are damaged.
If you suspect you have sagging floors, your next move should be to get a foundation inspection. Most companies offer free foundation inspections, so there’s no harm in calling a foundation repair company to verify if your sagging floors are something you should be worried about.
How to fix sagging floors in pier and beam foundations
Generally, you’ll find floors that are sagging in poorly constructed homes, aged homes or in homes with raised framed foundations. You won’t find such issues in homes with well-constructed concrete foundations.
Repairing a floor that has sagged needs experience and patience. However, it can be accomplished.
A slope may be obvious if anything you drop starts to roll or if the furniture sits at a cockeyed angle. But there are several ways to detect sagging floors even when the lack of flatness is subtle.
One method is to use a laser level that projects a visible beam of light. If you use models that allow you to turn the level through 360 degrees, you could project the beam around the room and check for the sagging areas.
Another method is to use a four-foot level set on top of a long, straight two-by-four to check the floor itself. Another option is to measure the height from the floor to the ceiling at regular intervals around the room.
Joist inspection and temporary columns
You’ll need to examine the support structure at the point where the sagging of the floor occurs. Grab a flashlight and get under the house. Inspect floor joists for signs of breakage, cracking, termites, aging, or sagging.
You can get columns to place under floor joists from an equipment rental yard. You’ll then need to incrementally elevate the floor. If you don’t, you may cause walls to crack, baseboards to pop off, or to cause window or door openings to improperly open or close.
Add a girder perpendicular to sagging floor joists underneath the middle of the floor and joists. Another option is to help support old or damaged joists. You could do this by installing sister joists alongside old joists after installing support posts.
To support the joists, build concrete footings for posts. Premade concrete pier support could also work.
The footing’s dimensions are determined by building codes as well as the carried load. Before adding the pier supports or footings, you’ll need to make the ground level.
If you notice that floors in your home are sagging, make sure you have your home inspected. If you’re planning on installing new floors, make sure there isn’t an underlying issue beforehand. This will save you time and money in the long run.
Once you are prepared to install new floors, reach out to us at Metroplex Flooring! We have over 50 years of experience in the flooring industry.