What You Should Know About Sagging Floors In A Home

Written by Blake Heron on . Posted in .

You have found your dream home in a fantastic area, and with an outstanding price to boot. There is only one problem: It seems to have structural issues, including sagging floors. Not only are sagging floors unappealing to the eye, but they can indicate serious underlying issues like foundation problems and lead to expensive repairs. Before you purchase a new home, our professionals at BAY Crawl Space can inspect the flooring and foundation to save you from the hidden costs, hassle, headache, and heartache of expensive unnecessary repairs.

Why Should You Pay Attention to the Flooring of a Home?

Uneven floors can be a hint that a host of underlying issues, like structural problems, might be happening. It’s a serious mistake to dismiss sloping floors as part of an old house. Still, uneven floors do not have to be a make-it-or-break-it factor in buying your new-to-you home. Many old houses are diamonds in the rough, unique fixer-upper opportunities that can get you a very nice home at a comparatively good price. You just need to be sure that if the floor slopes, it is not an indication of something serious like foundation damage.

What Are the Common Causes of Buckling Floors?

Many conditions can cause a floor to become uneven, sag, buckle, or get bouncy. Some might even go undiagnosed during a typical home inspection. A few of the most common causes are as follows.

Soil Movement

Soil movement and erosion are natural, and they happen everywhere. If, however, the shifting soil causes your foundation to move along with it, uneven floors could be a sign of an underlying problem that can require necessary repairs.

Foundation Issues or Structural Integrity

Older homes develop some structural damage over the years; this is normal. Your foundation issues can simply be because the house has some age behind it. This can, however, create issues with the structural integrity of the house. In other cases, the home’s foundation may have been poorly engineered. In either case, if you are buying a new or old home with foundation issues, you may experience problems like uneven floors or bouncy floors.

Repair costs for this part of the house can cost homeowners thousands of dollars. Because of this, if you notice sagging floors, it is essential to have a floor specialist inspect the home to uncover any hidden damage.

Excess Moisture

The most common cause of damaged or uneven floors is excess moisture that becomes trapped from something like a leaky pipe behind a wall on the house’s second story, rising groundwater, or poor water drainage in a crawl space.

Floor Joists or Subfloor Issues

While the above deal mostly with foundation and crawl space issues, other causes for floor problems have nothing to do with foundation repair. They can be related to things like poor joists, a rotting subfloor, or pests like termites or carpenter ants that chew away at wood flooring. In this case, you may simply need floor repair and not foundation repair, depending on the complexity of the issue with the home’s floors.

How Do You Fix Damaged Flooring?

The necessary steps for floor repair can depend on a wide range of factors, and all come down to the cause of the damaged flooring. If you need advice on whether you should buy a home with sloping floors, call BAY Crawl Space & Foundation Repair at 757-301-5088 or use our online contact form.

Water Damage

If you face moisture issues that cause damaged flooring in your home, the first step is to control the sources of moisture. Track down whether it’s damp earth, water intrusion from outside, a burst pipe or plumbing leak inside, flooding, or another cause. If the issue is related to improper foundation draining, you have a bigger issue that will carry higher costs. After addressing the underlying condition causing the damage, you will need to replace or repair damaged flooring, which could require replacing anything from subflooring to floorboards and even floor framing.

Foundation Damage

If you have severe foundation damage, the steps required depend on the level of damage and the type of foundation the home has. Many types of foundations exist, from beam foundations to poured concrete, concrete blocks, concrete slabs, and others. In some cases, the problem can be fixed by pumping grout into targeted spaces to raise the foundation back up, while in others, you may need to use floor jacks and raise the foundation to its original level, then apply foundation piers.

Soil Movement

If soil movement is the problem, a structural engineer, foundation repair specialist, or specialized contractor may be able to analyze the extent of the foundation damage. In some cases, these issues can be addressed by redirecting water away from the foundation by installing French drains or spouts to allow better drainage and keep the water from seeping through.

Subflooring Issues

Subflooring issues are less of a major concern and can be easily fixed. In some cases, like sagging or crowning floor joists, you may be able to use something as simple as shims to level the floor. If the subfloor is plywood, you may be able to simply tack it back into place on the wooden beams below.

A subfloor may, however, need to be replaced if it is too badly rotted or warped. Sometimes, sistering is a solution. Sistering uses additional support beams and framing lumber placed to strengthen damaged floor joists.

What Happens if You Don’t Fix Sagging Floors?

If you ignore sagging floors, it can lead to consequences such as property damage that your insurance company may not cover. It can also lead to injury when someone trips or falls on uneven floors, or even property loss if the damage is great enough. Home buyers who are looking to purchase a new home should be cautious of sagging floors before closing on the house.

Is Buying a House in Need of Repairs Worth It?

Buying a unique fixer-upper home is a time-honored tradition. It’s also a term realtors use to sell homes that might not be a great buy. Real estate agents use this term to make damaged homes sound more attractive to buyers. In truth, a fixer-upper can be a way to get into a really great house at a relatively low price. The key, however, is to be sure that the repairs will not outstrip the savings, and you need to consider more than just the monetary costs, including the time, work, and stress that will go into the repairs as well.

Also, if you are dealing with soil movement, you could be looking at repair costs ranging from $2,000 and up and dealing with foundationjacks, foundation piers, and other efforts. With soft ground, you may need helical piers or pressure piers in place. Sub-flooring replacements can run anywhere from $2,000 to $12,000 or more, depending on how much flooring needs to be replaced. Joist repairs can run up to $2,000 for 120 square feet and can range up to $10,000.

Fixing foundational issues can range from $5,000 to $25,000, depending on the foundation type and the level of damage. The average cost of repairing a sagging floor is probably around $6,500, but again, it depends largely on the cause of the damage and the level of repairs required.

While this all seems like a lot, consider the costs of repairs against cost savings on the price of the home. It might still be a good deal after all.

Are You Considering Buying a Home With Sagging Floors?

If you have looked at a home with sagging floors and your real estate agent presents it as a unique opportunity for a fixer-upper, just be sure you keep a few things in mind. A typical home inspector may not be able to properly diagnose issues with the floors. It is important to have a qualified professional foundation specialist check the floors for foundation issues and other problems that could result in expensive floor repair.

Do not be surprised if the home inspector or realtor tells you that you can probably fix the sagging floor by nailing it back down. However, you should not immediately believe them. Their job is not to be specialized in foundation, soil, or crawl space issues. Some of these problems can cost you much more than you originally anticipated and should absolutely be a consideration. In addition, the longer a floor goes unfixed, the worse the problems can become.

The Longer You Leave Your Floors Sloping, the More Expensive the Fix

If you are considering buying a house with uneven floors, whether they are sloping, bouncy, wavy, or sagging, it’s essential to find out exactly why they are sloping and research the costs of fixing them before you sign the papers to buy. Some sagging floors can be a relatively easy fix and lead to a great deal on a home, while others can carry tens of thousands of dollars of major structural repair work.

At BAY Crawl Space, we have flooring specialists who can diagnose the problem and help you get on the road to fixing it, as well as help you decide on purchasing a fixer-upper home. For a free inspection and estimate, call BAY Crawl Space & Foundation Repair at 757-301-5088.

Blake Heron

Written By Blake Heron

Blake has specialized in crawl space & foundation repairs for over 10 years (since 2012). His prior engineering and business degrees from James Madison University in VA prepared him for a mastery of problem solving with crawl space & foundation repair issues. He is one of America’s top experts on crawl space encapsulation. As Founder of both ‘BAY Crawl Space & Foundation Repair’ as well as ‘GridLock Foundations’ he is a leading industry expert on crawl space foundation repairs.

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