If you have a crawl space, then a sagging floor indicates quite a few problems that could be happening within your home. Your crawl space and the materials within it are what hold your floor and the rest of your house as well. As soon as your crawl space isn’t able to do its job, the rest of your house will begin to suffer from it. One of the many ways it does so is by affecting the symmetry of the floor.
This is why crawl space health is so important. Proper crawl space care involves waterproofing the space and making sure that any foundation problems are addressed. Before you determine what needs to be done with your crawl space, you need to be able to identify the surefire signs of floor sag, since they may not always be so obvious.
How to Spot Sagging Floors in Your Home
Part of identifying the problem signs of sagging floors is understanding what to look for. The system that supports your floorboards is made up of multiple materials that work together to hold up the floor. Certain materials will display different symptoms that indicate where the problem is. It’s important that you look thoroughly to truly identify the problem, and if you can’t make sense of what you see, you can always contact your local experts for a professional inspection.
- Uneven Furniture
The floor of your house can sag just about anywhere in your home. Ideally, you’d want it to sag somewhere that’s very visible so that you have an easier time detecting the problem early. However, this doesn’t always happen, and your floor could start to sag where it’s difficult to see, such as under your furniture. If you notice that your furniture is uneven, then move it to the side and check the floor for any unevenness.
- Moving Objects
When a floor is uneven, things that can roll do so with ease. Maybe you notice that your dog’s favorite ball always rolls to one direction when on the floor. Maybe the pens you drop won’t stay still. If you notice that certain objects keep rolling around, then your floor might be sagging.
- Jammed Doors
While some parts of the floor might sag, there may be other parts that are lifted due to the unevenness. The parts of the floor that are lifted will interfere with the way a door is opened and closed because of the door grazing the floor.
- Floor Detachment
When your floor is uneven, there may be some detachment between each floorboard or detachment from the wall. Most homes use polyethylene as an underlay for flooring, so if you see any white foam from in between the floorboards, there is detachment.
You also may want to check the joint between the wall and the floor. If there is a gap, then this also shows detachment and might be able to indicate where the sag is most significant around your home.
- Wall and Ceiling Cracks
If your floor is sagging, then it means there’s something wrong with your foundation. If your foundation is failing to the point where the floor sags, then it’s probably harming the rest of the house’s structure. Depending on how damaged the crawl space is, you may have trouble with the walls of your home as well.
- Bouncy Floor
Even if you don’t notice any significant sagging, if your floor is bouncy, it will sag soon. Floor sag occurs when the floor joints in your crawl space begin to fail, often because they become soft. As a result, you might notice floor bounce before floor sag.
- Visual Unevenness
Visually, you may be able to detect floor sag by simply looking at your floor. If you have floorboards, then this will be easier, since you can use the individual lines that separate each board from each other as a guide. If you have carpet flooring, then this might be more difficult to detect unless the sagging is significant. If you’re unsure, then you can always use a level ruler to figure out how uneven the floor is.
What Can Be Done About Sagging Floors?
When you realize that your floor is sagging, you might be wondering what comes next. Because sagging floors are mostly caused by some sort of problem with the joists, they easily can be fixed with a support jack like IntelliJack™.
- IntelliJack™ Crawl Space Support Jack
IntelliJack™ is a crawl space support jack that is used to aid floor joists in holding up the floor. Multiple support jacks can be installed in a crawl space, and they can be adjusted to accommodate any settling, sagging, and unevenness. Installation takes less than a day, and it’s a permanent solution that will even out your sagging floor no matter how saggy it is.
- After IntelliJack™ Is Installed
After IntelliJack™ is installed, you might want to invest in multiple waterproofing solutions. Water and humidity weaken a crawl space, and just because support jacks are put into place, doesn’t mean that wood rot and water damage will stop harming your foundation. After you’ve stabilized your floor support system, waterproofing the crawl space is the only way to properly maintain the foundation in tip-top shape.
There are diverse kinds of fungi that can affect your wood in different ways. It’s important that you learn to identify the distinct types so that you know what to look for the moment you’re able to detect floor sag. Wooden joists can be saved if the fungus is cleared in time. Clearing out wood rot is not something you should do on your own because of how dangerous mold is and because of how difficult it is to clear. There could be residual fungal growth, and you wouldn’t notice until you’re dealing with a sagging floor once more a few months down the line.
Still, it’s important to know what wood rot looks like. This way, you’ll know when it’s time to contact a foundation expert. There are over hundreds of different fungal infections that can overtake your wood, and we don’t expect you to know them all. Two of the most important ones are dry rot and soft rot, and knowing how these two types of wood rot affect your wood will lead you one step closer to a healthy foundation.
- Dry Rot
Dry rot is any kind of wood rot that does not soften up the wood. Even though it doesn’t soften it up, it doesn’t mean that the wood doesn’t get broken down. It slowly breaks it apart until it becomes brittle and can crumble easily. The most common type of fungus that infects wood is known as brown rot. Brown rot was originally called dry rot because it was believed that it didn’t need moisture to survive.
However, it was soon discovered that brown rot can pull moisture in from afar, which is how it can survive when the humidity levels of a space are low. Brown rot specifically can be identified because it leaves a pattern on the wood that looks like small squares. It’s often confused for termite damage, but an effective way to know if it’s brown rot for sure is to check for the red spores it leaves along the surface of the wood.
- Soft Rot
You can tell a lot about soft rot from the name alone. This kind of fungus softens the wood and makes it feel like a sponge. It often discolors the wood and turns it green or white, though white is the most common. These kinds of fungi tend to shrink the wood as well, so compare the size of the infected joist with one that looks healthier. If the infected one is smaller, then it’s been affected by soft rot.
Wood that has been infected with dry rot sometimes can still be saved. However, the ones that go soft are often unsalvageable. Once the wood becomes soft, it is too deformed to work properly. Even if it’s cured from rot, the wood is too shrunken down and is unable to support the same amount of weight it once did. When dealing with soft rot in wood, you might have to replace it depending on the extent of the damage.
If you’ve checked your crawl space and see that your floor joists are rotting, then there’s a chance that they may need to get replaced. Other times, no replacement is necessary, and all that needs to be done is support the joists with a support jack. Replacing the joists in your crawl space is not only expensive but also not a practical solution if you aren’t going to waterproof your crawl space anyway. The same problems present in your current joists can appear in your new joists if you don’t care for them properly.
The trick to repairing floor joists instead of replacing is spotting the problem signs as early as possible. There’s a certain amount of damage that can be prevented if caught in time.
- When to Replace
Wooden joists need to be replaced when they are too soft or broken down from wood rot. Fungi are microorganisms that need organic materials and water to survive. After taking up residence in your wooden joist, the fungus will eat away at the wood’s structure and debilitate it considerably. Once wood has been devoured by fungus this way, it can never return to its original strength. Even with a crawl space support jack, weak wood will not be able to evenly support your floor, in which case replacement will be necessary.
- When Not to Replace
If a specialist has decided that replacing isn’t necessary, then all that’s left is reinforcement and stabilizing. Even when infected with wood rot, wood can still be saved. Wood can be cleared of wood rot if it hasn’t been affected too severely yet. It can then be reinforced with a wood protector. Of course, this can only be done if the wood rot is detected early, before severe damage is done.
Sometimes, all wood joists need is a little support. This is especially the case for joists that are healthy but not set up properly. If the floor system itself is lacking due to the way it was set up, then a stabilizer like IntelliJack™ is more than enough to even out the floor. If your sagging floor problem was not caused by water damage, then you may want to consider waterproofing your crawl space anyway. If water and water vapor can get through, your floor joists are always at risk of rotting or getting waterlogged.
Some homeowners are skilled enough with wood working that they will attempt to DIY projects involving it. Therefore, when a crawl space floor joist is somehow damaged, they won’t hesitate to try and fix it themselves. A common solution to floor joist failure is sistering a joist. It’s relatively simple and can be done by many, even those with limited experience with crawl spaces.
However, sistering a floor joist isn’t always the solution. Often, DIY solutions are a band aid on the problem instead of a permanent fix.
- The Problem with Sistering a Floor Joist
Sistering a floor joist involves attaching a second piece of wood to the failing floor joist. The idea is that the damaged joist can be reinforced with a healthy piece of wood. The joist itself lacks strength, so the “sister” joist aids it in holding up the floor. There are two problems with this and it’s that, while a healthy piece of wood can provide some reinforcement, it’s not a solution that will last long. If your floor is sagging because of wood rot and you don’t waterproof your foundation, then the healthy joist will soon get infected as well.
Not to mention, while a piece of wood can provide temporary reinforcement, it cannot even out your floor. Your floor will still be uneven after sistering a joist because there is no way to exert upwards pressure on the floor with the wood alone. Sistering a joist is fine for a quick fix as you wait on foundation repairs, but if you care about the long-term health of your crawl space, you’ll need another solution.
- What To Do Instead
Instead of sistering a floor joist, contact your local foundation repair experts as fast as you can. The more the floor sags, the more likely it is that the floorboards get damaged or that someone gets hurt. Walking on an uneven floor is a safety risk, so evening out the floor should be a priority. Also, sistering a floor joist might not help you solve the issue because the problem could lie in the concrete posts or walls instead of the joists.
There are certain solutions that are specially designed to repair joists permanently, and sistering a joist is not one of them. A foundation expert can bring you better, more cost-effective solutions, so consider calling a professional if your floor is sagging.
Call Dry Pro for Crawl Space Repairs
If your floor is sagging, then it’s time for crawl space repairs. Dry Pro experts are your local professionals that will keep your foundation functioning properly. We service Charlotte, NC, and have been in the business since 1999.
Don’t hesitate to give us a call, or use our online contact form to schedule a free inspection. Our field expert will provide a thorough rundown of repair estimates, repair solutions, and a comprehensive timeline so that you know how quickly we can get your home stable again!