If the floors in your home are sagging, especially if you have hardwood floors, it’s hard to miss the effects. Uneven and sagging floors tend to slope and bow, sometimes so much that they become uncomfortable and awkward to walk or sit on. This can be unsightly, but it can also pose a danger to individuals with physical disabilities — particularly the elderly and frail or the very young.
What Causes of Uneven or Sagging Floors?
Sagging floor issues develop with all types of foundations, meaning it is crucial to learn their causes to avoid costly damages. This guide will look at seven major causes of uneven floors, how to fix them, and why it’s important to do so as soon as possible.
1. Poor structural design
A damaged foundation and damaged floor joist are often the leading cause of uneven and sloping floors in an old house. Foundation damage can come from dump crawlspace, aged or poor design, and craftsmanship, resulting in a foundation too weak to hold up your house’s weight, especially when you have a wood floor. A weak foundation can result in warping, cracking, uneven floors, bowing floors, and hordes of other problems.
It is worth noting that a home’s foundation tends to weaken with time. Floors and walls will eventually warp, leading to unevenness and cracks on the foundation and floors.
2. Soil movement
Soil typically expands when it is wet and shrinks when it becomes dry. These changes may lead to soil movement over time. Soil movement can cause your foundations to shift, eventually affecting your floors.
If the builders lay the foundation without compacting the soil beneath, soil movement risks will be compounded and may result in shifting, sagging, and the floor not level in house.
3. Exposure to excess moisture
Water damage is arguably one of the most common causes of sagging and uneven floors. This water can seep directly into the foundation, especially where drainage is poor, or result from drainage problems caused by several things such as:
- Water that runs off rooftops that pools near your foundations
- Clogged gutters and downspouts that cannot adequately direct water away
- Low areas in your yard close to the foundation, which collects water after heavy rains
- Erosion of the supporting soil layers.
The water eventually reaches wooden beams and subflooring causing them to warp. Also, in climates that experience extreme weather changes, water can freeze and expand during colder months to force the floors to move and crack. All these changes eventually result in uneven and sagging floors. Such leaks can also trigger stubborn problems such as mold, rot, and crack.
4. Expansive clay soil
Highly expansive clay soils can also trigger foundation problems that lead to uneven and sagging floors. Clay acts like a sponge and can expand or contract beneath your home with changes in moisture. As the ground expands, a lot of pressure is exerted on the foundation, and as it contracts, there is inadequate support. The constant heaving and shrinking eventually breaks the foundation and leads to uneven floors.
5. Improperly compacted fill soil
If the fill dirt below your home wasn’t properly compacted, expect a number of foundation and floor problems, including sagging floors. Improperly compacted fill soil leaves slab on grade foundations exposed to settlement issues. When building a new home, ensure the compaction meets the required industry standards.
6. Tree roots
Tree roots that grow beneath the foundation can also cause uneven and sagging floors in your home. Besides causing it to expand and crack, these roots suck moisture off your floors, leaving the foundation dry and shriveled. The roots can also cause the soil to parch and settle unevenly. When planting trees around your home, ensure they are planted as far away from your foundation as possible.
7. Natural sinkhole formation
Sinkholes are caused by water that drains underground. If you don’t have adequate external drainage around your home, you are at a higher risk of encountering this problem. When water drains underground, it may cause subterranean soil erosion, leading to underground caverns. Sinkholes typically trigger severe foundation issues, so it helps if you recognize the signs early to mitigate their effects.
Sinkhole formation signs may include:
- Higher than regular water bills that indicate underground water leaks
- Difficulty closing doors and windows
- Areas of floors that are soft or spongy
- Tree roots that cause cracking of sidewalks or driveways
Understanding that you may have a sinkhole — and working with foundation services professionals to alleviate the problem as quickly as possible — will go a long way toward protecting your property from a devastating catastrophe.
Once you have determined the causes of uneven floors in your home, you should then embark on fixing these issues. You should also take preventive measures that ensure they don’t recur.
How to Fix Uneven or Sagging Floors
Noticing a problem with sagging floors is the first step, but getting the issue under control before there are even bigger problems is another. Use the following methods to fix the floor issues in your home:
Floor Jacking and Foundation Peering
Foundation damage and issues such as sloping floor repair and uneven floor repair can be fixed using floor jacks and foundation peering techniques. This involves pumping grout into strategically placed holes to raise the foundation to the desired level. The foundation will then be stabilized with unique footing and piers.
Provide Adequate Drainage
Soil movement from slow soil erosion activities can be fixed by adding drainage and well-placed spots around your home’s foundation. This ensures water is directed as far away from your home as possible. Apart from water proofing, you can also add a slanting wall to improve your foundation grading. An ideal foundation should have a sloping of 3 to 5 percent all around the house.
Fix Leaks in Your Piping System
Fixing water leaks requires that you identify the problem as soon as it happens. Examine your piping system to determine signs of leaky pipes so that you fix the problem before it becomes a significant issue. A plumber can fix or replace any that may be contributing to water damage in your home. If the damage is severe, you may eventually have to replace the flooring.
Shore Up Beams or Joints
How to repair sagging floor joists? If there is a sagging part between two points on your floor, there could be issues with joints or beams located below the floor. You can solve this issue by sistering the joists and adding push piers to prop up the sagging joists. This will ultimately raise the uneven areas to level out the floor.
It’s important to keep costs in mind as you undertake this process. Fixing a sagging floor may cost about $1,000 to $10,000, with the average hourly rate of about $75 to $125 for the labor. The total cost will depend on what’s causing the floor to sag, the flooring type and the total square feet of floor affected, however.
Is a Sagging Floor Dangerous?
Sagging floors pose several hazards for you and your family. Uneven floors in old house could cause trips, falls, and injuries and can also indicate structural issues with the foundation or supports of your home. It could also provide a conducive environment for mold and bacteria to grow, eventually affecting your health.
In a nutshell, uneven floors can be the beginning of myriad other troubles with your home, including substantially reducing your property’s value. Additionally, taking preventive measures such as proper drainage, avoiding planting trees close to your foundation, and conducting regular home inspections can help prevent problems with sagging floors and ensure this problem doesn’t recur.
If you’re dealing with sloping floors in an old house, floor not level in the house, or bowing floors, hiring a professional to fix them is highly recommended. This is especially important if you have hardwood flooring or solid wood floors, as these types of floors can be more susceptible to damage from unevenness. It is crucial to act quickly to address these issues to prevent further damage and ensure the safety and stability of your home.
Talk to the Experts About Sagging Floors
If you have questions on how to fix a sagging floor, what might be causing yours, and whether there’s a reason for alarm, contact the experts at LUX Foundation Solutions.
Our team is your local source of foundation repair for your home or business needs. We’ve been serving Northern Virginia, Shenandoah Valley, the Central Virginia areas, and the surrounding locales for years. We combine innovative, cost-effective solutions to deliver tailor-made services to our clients. Contact us today to learn more.