The 3 Causes of Uneven Floors (And How to Fix Them)
You step into a home and realize something isn’t quite right. As you walk in the entry it feels as though you’re hiking downhill.
If you’ve ever experienced this, you might be happy to learn 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.
Some people embrace their home’s uneven floors in their older homes. For some, it seems normal and adds character. While this may be true, uneven floors can be a sign of a much more serious problem.
There are many causes of uneven floors ranging from mild to severe. Here’s a breakdown of the 3 most common causes of scooping floors and how you can fix them.
What are Uneven Floors?
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 foundation settles and shifts, it can cause the walls and floors to shift and bend. In more serious cases, they may even crack. However, the root problem may be something entirely different than a settling house.
Cause 1: Extra Moisture
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.
How To Fix It
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.
Cause 2: Soil Movement
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.
How To Fix It
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.
Cause 3: Poor Structural Design & Foundation Damage
The final major cause of uneven floors is a damaged foundation. Damage can come from the issues above but also poor structural design and age.
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.
How To Fix It
Foundation damage is going to be an expensive fix. This, of course, depends on the extent of the damage. Consult with a building professional or contractor to discuss the problem and how to properly fix it.
Experts can fix foundations using many methods including floor jacks and foundation piering. Professionals will pump grout into strategically placed holes in or below the foundation to raise it back to its original place.
Piering uses hydraulic jacks to lift the foundation back into place and then stabilized with special footing and piers.
Do You Have Uneven Floors?
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 falling apart.
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.