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Sagging, uneven floors: Are they signs of problems with your foundation?

Everything settles and changes as it gets older, and our houses are no exception. It's normal for walls and floors to move, shift and maybe even crack a bit as time passes. However, big shifts are not normal − they are signs of possible problems with your foundation.

One of the common problems we see when we conduct a free, no-obligation inspection is sagging, uneven floors. Boards may squeak in certain area. Glasses and decorations can rattle when family members walk by. Or you may notice a dip in the middle of a room or area.

How to check for sagging floorsSo, how do you tell if there's a problem with your floors, and possibly your foundation?

The first thing you can do is stretch a piece of string across the floor, making sure the string is level, according to Steve Jordan at OldHouseOnline.com. This will  show you how much the floor has curved.

The direction and nature of the slope or curve can give the first clues about the underlying  problem, according to Sinai Construction Engineering. For example:

  • A floor that slopes significantly in one direction could indicate foundation damage or settlement. "The direction to which the floor slopes will almost always be where you will find the cause of the unleveled floor," the company says.
  • If the sloping is limited to a certain area, such as a fireplace, this is a sign of damage to the girders, joists or posts that support that area.
  • Sloping floors on the first floor of a multi-story house could be a sign of missing support posts and damaged joists.

"Be suspicious of wood posts set on dirt floors or wood posts with concrete poured around the post bases," Jordan says. As the posts naturally deteriorate and sink into the floor, the house settles accordingly, bottom to top.

If floors are uneven only on the second story, then beams or joists that support that level could be damaged.

Wall cracks, stuck doors and windows, loosened nails in walls and ceilings, and gaps in doors and trims also could be signs of structural damage.

If you have a crawl space, your uneven floors could be a sign of slab foundation problems. HD Foundations lists six major causes of problems with slabs:

  • The slab has heaved up and moved.
  • The foundation has cracked, causing cracks in the slab.
  • The slab has settled and begun sinking, which means your foundation is moving, too.
  • Leveling shims have failed, especially if they were made of low-quality material.
  • Support piers have shifted.
  • Slabs and foundation were poorly designed. Sometimes the slab was not poured thick enough, and the too-thin slab will not support the house.

Diagnosing and fixing the problem

If you're concerned about your uneven floors, call ABT Foundation Solutions, Inc. at 920-733-4ABT (4228) or contact us online to set up a free inspection.  We'll inspect your home and foundation to evaluate the problem, then recommend an appropriate solution.

We frequently find that sagging floors are a sign that floor joists are weakening. Our technicians can use our LiftRight™ Jacks to stabilize the sagging area.

Be aware, however, that jacking floors and implementing other solutions often take time." Jacking must proceed slowly; it took a long time for your floor to sink, so you can't push it back up quickly without causing cracks and stress in the building," Jordan says.

It takes an experienced professional to understand the leveling process and work appropriately to improve the floors and protect the structure, Jordan adds.

"Ideally, someone with experience will assess the problem and set up the posts and any necessary beams. You can then screw the jacks up a turn or two each month. Expect some cracked plaster along the way, and aim not for perfection, but simply stability and improvement," he says.

Let the experienced and trained professionals at ABT Foundation Solutions take care of your uneven floors. Contact us today!