You step into a home and realize something isn’t quite right. As you walk in certain areas it feels as though the floors are sloped.
If you’ve ever experienced this, it’s not just your imagination. You’re walking on uneven floors, an ailment many homeowners face. Older homes tend to have more slopes and sags than newer homes.
There are many causes of uneven floors ranging from mild to severe. Below is a breakdown of the 3 most common causes of sloping floors and how you can fix them.
For professional help fixing sloping floors in the greater Hampton Roads, VA / NC region, learn more about BAY Crawl Space & Foundation Repair at our Home Page, About Us Page, or Request A Quote Page.
Uneven floors are exactly as the name implies. They’re floors that slope and sag creating an uneven surface. But the floors themselves are rarely the cause of the problem.
As a house’s structure settles and shifts, it can cause the floors and walls to shift and bend. In more serious cases, they may even crack.
The most common cause of an uneven floor is from an excess of moisture or water damage. The water can come from a leaky pipe hidden within a wall or groundwater. This water can directly affect your flooring causing the wooden beams and sub-flooring to warp.
Moisture can also affect the foundation of a building with poor drainage. This is especially true in climates that experience multiple seasons where water can freeze and expand during the winter months. The foundation will move and possibly crack if moisture continues to be a problem.
Fortunately, you can fix both of these moisture problems. Of course, the sooner you identify the problem, the easier it will be to fix it.
To fix excess moisture due to a leaky pipe or water damage, you’ll have to start with the root cause. In most cases, you’ll have to call a plumber to fix and replace a leaking pipe. They can also find and fix any other leaks that may be contributing to the water damage.
Once you fix the leak, you may have to replace the flooring depending on how severe the damage is. Not only can a leak and excess moisture cause an uneven floor, but it can also lead to more serious problems such as mold, rot, and cracks. Talk to a professional and have them assess the problem and help you determine whether you’ll need to replace the floor.
Fixing a foundation with poor drainage can be trickier and more expensive depending on the damage. You will need to speak with a professional and have them look at your foundation and uneven floors. From there, they can determine whether adding proper drainage will help fix the problem or if the foundation itself will need fixing.
Soil moves over time. When the soil is wet, it will expand and when it’s dry, it will shrink. When this happens, it can cause your foundation to move, affecting your floors.
Before builders lay the foundation of a house or building, they must compact the soil beneath. This helps keep your foundation in place and prevents the building from settling and moving over time. Sometimes, the soil isn’t as compact as it should be, causing shifting and uneven floors.
Fortunately, you can fix and prevent and slow soil erosion around your foundation. Again, you should consult a flooring or building professional who can diagnose the problem.
From there, you and your contractor or flooring specialist can decide how to fix your foundation. If there’s no major damage to your foundation, adding drainage and well-placed spouts can help direct water away from the foundation.
Other options include fixing your foundation grading or adding a slanting swale. Good foundation grading should have a ground slope of 3% to 5% around your house. A slanting swale is a barrier you can add to prevent moisture from seeping into your foundation.
You can add soil around your foundation to improve the grading. If that’s not an option, you can add a slanting swale. Both will help direct water from your home.
The final major cause of uneven floors is a insufficient structural support. Damage can come from any movement of the house’s structure. This could mean multiple things including: long spans on joists and beams, undersized foundations / footers, or undersized lumber under the house.
If your foundation is the result of poor craftsmanship, it can be too weak to hold up your house. This causes warping, cracks, and uneven floors.
The foundation of an old home naturally weakens over time. As it weakens, joists, floors, and walls may warp eventually leading to more serious problems such as cracks, and breaks in the floor or your foundation.
Foundation damage repairs can be extensive or simple. This, of course, depends on the extent of the damage & specifics of the structure. Consult with an expert foundation repair specialist or structural engineer to discuss the problem and how to properly fix it.
Foundation repair experts can fix foundations using many methods including floor jacks, installing new beams, foundation piering, various carpentry repairs, and various steel reinforcement solutions.
Some foundation piering uses hydraulic jacks to lift the perimeter foundation back into place. Lifting the perimeter foundation is NOT recommended. Lift causes damage via ‘load reversals’ and can cause further structural damage. Worst of all, when the foundation loses contact with the soil, it loses 100% of support from the soil. For that reason, lifted foundation push piers often settle.
Whether you’re a homeowner or looking to buy a home, you should never ignore uneven floors. Sagging, sloping, and buckling floors is a sign of a much bigger problem that can cause serious issues in the future. Fixing the problem sooner will save you money and prevent your home from experiencing further damage.
Do you have uneven floors in your home? Let’s talk about it. We will diagnose the problem and help you find the right solution.
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.