If you notice a gap between your wall and your floor, it might be time to call-in an expert for an inspection. This structural anomaly should be taken seriously because it is a sign of something wrong in your home’s foundation. Detecting the problem signs will better help you understand what is going on and what can be done to repair the gap between the floor and the wall.
What Are the Signs of Floor and Wall Gaps?
When there’s a gap between your wall and floor, there usually are other signs that indicate that this isn’t a standalone problem. When seeing the gap for the first time, many homeowners won’t act because they believe that it’s always been there, and they hadn’t noticed until that moment. However, because wall-floor gaps are such a common sign of foundation failure, you’ll want to check for other problem signs as well, such as:
Sagging, Bouncy, and Uneven Floor
If there is a gap between your wall and floor, then the rest of the floor will most likely be either sagging, bouncy, or uneven. A sagging floor is one that is permanently sunken without there being any weight on it. Usually, the sag will be in a single area of the house. A bouncy floor is when you step on a specific area of the floor, it sinks, but then it bounces right back once you stop putting any weight on it.
An uneven floor is one that simply isn’t level. This can be tested with a level ruler. All these signs usually are present alongside wall and floor gaps because the gap itself doesn’t show up unless the foundation problem is severe. If it advances, then the floor will have other issues as well.
Broken Floorboards and Tiles
You may want to check for any broken floorboards or tiles. Advanced foundation damage affects the floor to the point where the floorboards and tiles can break. If you can’t find any broken floorboards, then try to see if there’s a part of the floor that is raised to the point where it overbears the baseboard, which is the decorative wood that skirts along your bottom walls. Most likely, the wood there will be broken due to the pressure of being up against the baseboard.
When there’s a part of the floor that has detached itself from the wall, there might be another part that has lifted. Sometimes, this lifted part can interfere with the door. At first, you might notice that the bottom of the door brushes lightly along the floor—enough to notice but not enough to interfere with the door’s function. As time goes on, the floor might be raised to the point where it keeps the door from opening and closing. Jammed doors also are a sign of foundation problems due to frame warping.
Wall and Ceiling Cracks
A failing floor system doesn’t just affect the floor itself; it also affects the walls. Usually, if the floor is having problems, it’s because there’s a force that is pushing or pulling at it, which is what causes the wall-floor gap in the first place. However, this pressure also exerts its force onto the walls and ceiling of the house, resulting in wall and ceiling cracks.
The inside of your home isn’t the only place you should check for problem signs. Look at the brick veneers or at your chimney and see if you can spot any brick cracks.
A clear sign that points to floor problems is wood rot in your floor joists. This can be identified by the green, black, white, gray, or yellow stains that the fungus leaves on the wood, as well as the occasional layer of spores on the surface.
Your foundation often is a lot cooler than your home because of the lack of sun and the surrounding moisture, especially during the winter. Wall and floor gaps allow cold foundation air easier access into your home.
What Causes Floor and Wall Gaps?
A gap between the floor and the wall can indicate different things, but all of them fit under the umbrella description of “foundation damage”. Foundation damage can mean a few things, but they all lead to the same results—a deteriorating home. Annual maintenance can help prevent this by getting on top of small issues long before they escalate into costly repairs or replacements.
Here are some of the foundation problems that can result in gaps at the wall-floor joint:
Foundation settling occurs when the soil underneath your foundation is no longer stable enough to support your home evenly. This happens due to soil erosion, which is when an external element displaces the soil. In Charlotte, NC, the most common element to cause erosion is water. The Cecil soil that spans the Piedmont region of North Carolina is filled with clay in its deeper layers. The clay content in the soil makes it easy for it to retain water.
When the soil gets saturated with water, it expands, and loosens up the soil. When soil is loose, it is more likely to get displaced and shifted by a heavy load, such as a house. Once there’s no more water, the soil shrinks, which results in a volume loss. All this erosion moves the soil under your house so much that it causes it to shift to the side. The unevenness can shift the foundation to the point where the floor support system is affected, and the floor begins to detach itself from the wall.
Bowing Basement Walls
Another downside to the Cecil soil on your property is that it tends to cause hydrostatic pressure due to its water-retention characteristics. When it rains or when snow melts, all the water accumulates underground. When too much water has accumulated against a basement wall, the pressure from the weight of the water causes the wall to bow inwards. The buckling wall slowly breaks apart under the weight of the groundwater, and this affects how the floor is supported over time.
Floor Joist Failure
The floor joists are the wooden beams that are placed horizontally along the top of your foundation so that they can support your floorboards. When floor joists have any kind of problem, it always results in an uneven floor because they are the pieces that keep things stable and even.
Floor joists can fail due to multiple reasons. Homes that don’t have a waterproof crawl space or basement usually see joist deterioration due to wood rot. Wood rot is when the joist has been infected with some sort of fungus that eats away at the structure. Wood rot debilitates joists to the point where they are too broken down or soft to hold up the floor properly.
Another common reason joists fail is due to lack of proper support. Every few feet, support posts are meant to aid the floor joists in holding up the floor. However, if these posts are spread too far apart, the floor joists will not have enough support and they will begin to fail.
What Can Be Done to Fix Floor and Wall Gaps?
Even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal, you should try to fix the gap between the wall and the floor of your Charlotte, NC home. Fixing the gap is more than just a cosmetic issue; it’s about making sure that your foundation is functioning properly.
Foundations are the most important part of any home because they are the structure that holds the entire thing together. Without the right repair solutions, not only will your floor not be fixed, but also there will be other structural problems that will cost you thousands to repair. Instead, you can count on your local experts to provide you with the best, permanent solutions that will fix the problem immediately.
IntelliJack™ Crawl Space Support Jack
If you have a crawl space and you have a wall-floor gap due to joist failure, then IntelliJack™ can solve the problem. IntelliJack™ is a crawl space support jack that is used to support the failing joist and provide stability. It’s made of galvanized steel and has been tested to have an allowable load capacity of more than 24,000 pounds. IntelliJack™ can be adjusted so that it levels your floor and closes the gap.
Installing IntelliJack™ can be done in less than a day and is a permanent part of your floor’s support system. Thanks to the durable material, adjustable design, and reliability of the system, you won’t have to worry about foundation problems again after installing IntelliJack™ supports in your crawl space.
For basements, there are multiple solutions depending on what kind of foundation problem you’re dealing with. If it’s bowing basement walls due to hydrostatic pressure, then this can be stopped with either wall anchors or wall braces.
With wall anchors, holes are excavated, and the earth anchors are placed deep underground. Holes are drilled in the basement wall, and a steel rod is pushed through until it reaches the earth anchor outside. A steel plate is bolted to the rod, and then the job is done. As the bolt is tightened, it creates enough force to push back against hydrostatic pressure.
Wall braces do the same, but instead of an anchor being placed outside, the steel I-beams are secured across the wall vertically. They are great for homes that don’t have enough space for excavation.
Helical piers and push piers can be used to stabilize a settling foundation and even level the house so that the wall-floor gap is closed. The steel rods are driven into the ground until they reach competent soil depths. While the upper layers are sticky, plastic, and filled with clay, the deeper soils (past 80 inches) are firm and loamy—perfect for supporting a home.
What Happens If I Don’t Fix Floor and Wall Gaps?
Ignoring floor and wall gaps has multiple negative consequences that can cost you thousands of dollars. Your floorboards will break apart, your walls will start cracking, your foundation walls will begin to deteriorate, and more. Besides the structural damage you experience, there is another way wall and floor gaps hurt your wallet: higher energy bills.
The air in your foundation has a direct effect on your home’s temperature due to the stack effect. The stack effect refers to the way air circulates throughout your home. During the summer, the warm air enters the foundation and then rises into your home. Because the warm air is constantly flowing inside your living space, your AC must work harder to keep things cool, which consumes more energy.
During the winter, the cold air flows in, which causes the same problem with your HVAC. A gap between the wall and the floor only amplifies the problem, resulting in higher energy bills.
Floor and Wall Gaps
Many homeowners know about sistering a floor joist to stabilize it, so it’s the go-to DIY solution when floor joists begin to fail. However, this is less of an actual solution and more of a band-aid. Not only does sistering not help with anything, but also it doesn’t fix the gap between the floor and the wall.
What Sistering Does and Cannot Do
Sistering a floor joist involves attaching a healthy wooden beam next to the one that is failing. Usually, the new beam is attached with a strong builder’s adhesive, though it is sometimes done with nails as well. The idea behind sistering a joist is to provide the damaged wood some aid so that the floor is stabilized. This is where the name “sistering” comes from, since the old wood is given a “sibling” beam for support.
However, if you’re wondering if sistering a floor joist can repair the gap between your baseboard and your floor, it cannot. Sistering a joist only stabilizes and provides the floor with a certain amount of stability that cannot be provided by the failing joist. It cannot raise your floor to the point where the floor is even again and the gap is sealed.
What You Can Do Instead
Instead of sistering, you should contact your local foundation experts for an inspection. They will be able to determine what is causing the gaps to form and what needs to be done to repair your foundation. A proper foundation repair method will not only be able to stabilize your home and prevent further floor sagging, but also it can level your floor and closing the gap between the wall and floor.
A common solution for failing floor joists is concrete piers, which are used as underpinning. Unfortunately, underpinning with concrete piers is not a practical solution to the problem. They are extremely unreliable and cannot be considered permanent solutions because of it. A support jack like IntelliJack™ can provide better support for a crawl space than concrete piers.
Concrete piers can only support up to 40 pounds of weight each, meaning that they might not be capable of supporting the floor, especially if you have heavy furniture in your house. Besides their poor load-bearing capacity, concrete piers are made of an inferior material. Concrete is permeable and vulnerable to the freeze-thaw cycle. When it’s saturated with any kind of moisture that expands when freezing, the micro-tears slowly weaken the structure.
Apart from this, concrete piers cannot be adjusted. If there’s any kind of settling in the crawl space, then the concrete supports will shift as well and leave your floor joist with poor support. Concrete is widely used as a support system due to how inexpensive it is, but it is not strong enough to hold up and support a home, which is why they are inferior to a solution like IntelliJack™.
IntelliJack™ Crawl Space Support Jacks
IntelliJack™ is a floor support system consisting of steel support jacks. Right off the bat, they are better than concrete supports due to the material: IntelliJack™ shafts are made of steel that has been galvanized. This means that it is coated with a layer of zinc to fight off corrosion. Not only will it not rust, but also it is invulnerable to water or frost damage. It’s a long-lasting solution that is designed to last decades.
Preventing floor and wall gaps is all about preventing foundation failure, which is all about preventing soil erosion. There are a few things that can be done to prevent floor and wall gaps.
The best way to prevent floor and wall gaps is simply to protect your foundation from water exposure. This way, water will not be able to get inside the foundation and cause material deterioration. Certain waterproofing solutions, like a sump pump and a French drain system are perfect for draining groundwater that surrounds the foundation as well. Protecting the outside is just as important as protecting the inside, especially if you are trying to prevent as much soil erosion as possible.
Extending your downspouts will help direct rainwater from your foundation, and, if you need to, you might want to consider altering them so that they point away from your home. You also can speak to a landscaping expert to make sure your yard grade is positive and that the rainwater naturally flows away from your home.
Regular inspections are vital if you want to ensure that your home is structurally sound. Sometimes, the average homeowner cannot detect early problem signs, and it takes a professional to see that something is about to go wrong in your home. By having a professional point it out, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars in repairs and a lot of headaches.
Ideally, you’ll want to get your home inspected once a year. A lot can change in 12 months, especially in Charlotte because of its humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons, meaning that there’s a lot of variation in between each month. The pleasantness of spring and chills of fall are mild in comparison to the ice storms in winter and the constant rainfall during the summer. Because of the climate, the soil on your property changes a lot in a few months, which is why a yearly inspection is advised.
Call DryPro for Foundation Repairs
Wall and floor gaps are a foundation problem that need to be addressed as soon as possible. Luckily, foundation repairs don’t have to be overwhelming, especially when you hire experienced professionals. DryPro has been repairing foundations since 1999, and we are happy to serve Charlotte, NC.
We offer free inspections and same-day quotes. All you must do is give us a call or use our online contact form, and we can have one of our field experts at your home in no time at all!