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How To Fix Sloping Floors In An Old House

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Have you noticed the floors in your old Ohio home bouncing, sagging, or buckling? It’s a common occurrence in homes built in the last century. While it’s easy to view unlevel floors as a quirk of older homes, but it can point to larger structural issues beneath. Before we cover the solution to sagging floors, let’s learn more about what causes it.  

What Causes Floors in Old Homes to Sag?  

An old home can be described as a house built at least 50 years ago. Homes considered as “antiques” were built before the year 1920. Though sturdy enough to stay put for you, these homes experience lots of wear and tear over the years. Just as foundations built more recently will creak and settle, older homes do, too. Only they’ve had more time to do so, and the side effects will appear to you at a much more developed stage.  

The sagging floor in your older home is likely a result of the supports below the floor of your home aging, settling, and likely racking up damage. You’ll want to act on this structural issue before it gets worse, or even dangerous.  

Before calling in Ohio Basement Authority foundation experts, you can start by doing a self-inspection of your home. 

What to Look for When Inspecting Your Home for Sagging Floors 

If you’re looking for ways to fix sloping floors in an old house, you’re likely already aware of your home’s problem areas. From the experts’ point of view, here are four areas you can inspect to ensure you catch the whole scope of the problem before calling professionals. 

  1. Support Beams  
    If your older home has a basement, it likely has support beams extending from the floor to ceiling. A great way to test the sturdiness of the beams is to press into the wood with a pencil or screwdriver. Be sure to test it gently. If you notice the wood crumble, soften, or mold around your tool, you may have found one source of your unlevel floor upstairs. Mold, mildew, and wood-eating pests may have threatened the integrity of your support beams, and it’s time to call in for help. 
  1. Floor Joists 

Floor joists should appear properly installed, without any crumbling, bowing, mold, or improper cuts to fit wiring, ducts or pipes. In a healthy floor joist, there should be no cuts or penetration near the middle. Any hole made in the joist should be no closer than two inches from the top or bottom of the joist. The wood in floor joists is just as susceptible as other areas of your home to mold and rot. To test for this, you can use the same method mentioned above, pressing a screwdriver or pencil into the joist wood and seeing if it crumbles.  

  1. Excess Moisture  
    Seeing puddles, leaking walls and cove joints, and even water droplets throughout your basement or crawl space? Excess water and humidity can have poor implications on the structural integrity of your older home. As water collects around the structural support beams and floor joists, it weakens the materials and can cause rot or mold. As these issues escalate, they will cause the floors in your home to bow, sag, and become unlevel near the area of the problematic supports.  
  1. Insect Damage  
    Insects and creepy crawlers are drawn to damp, dark areas. That’s why old, unfinished and unprotected basements or crawl spaces can be a prime entryway for critters to invade your home. You may first notice these pests in the interior living space of your home; pests like roaches, rats, cave and camel crickets, centipedes, earwigs, and more. In your basement or crawl space, you may find these pests plus termites, powder post beetles, and carpenter ants. These creatures are indicative of larger issues in your home, as mold and moisture make an inviting home for them. In your basement or crawl space, inspect for maze-like cutout patterns in your walls or wooden supports, or small termite tunnels built around and down from wood. If you suspect a serious pest problem, especially termites, it’s important to call in pest control and invest in the proper waterproofing measures to prevent future invasions.  

How to Repair a Sagging Floor 

So, you’ve done a basic inspection of the problem areas are in your older home. What comes next is tackling the issue in a way that will last. Risks of dangerous structural failure are higher with an older home, so we typically don’t recommend fixing sagging floors all by yourself. When these problems are addressed professionally, here are three permanent solutions that structural repair experts could use on your unique home.  

For older homes with crawl spaces or basements, support jacks are typically a go-to that will lift your floor over time. At Ohio Basement Authority, we use IntelliJack™ support jacks to lift and stabilize your floor. These high-quality support jacks are manufactured with corrosion-resistant, galvanized steel that is resistant to future infiltration of moisture and pests. They work by bearing the weight of the home in areas where support is lacking. IntelliJack™ support posts are also adjustable. If your home creaks, settles, or warps again, the support jacks can be re-adjusted to level your floor once more.  

  • Preventive Waterproofing or Encapsulation  

While support jacks can be adjusted with the ebb and flow of your home, it’s still vital to target the root cause of the warping in your home, which is likely excess moisture and exposure to the elements. Having vapor barriers installed in your basement, or having a full encapsulation in your crawl space, can be the extra measure your home needs to avoid mold, condensation, and humidity attacking your home’s structure again. 

Professionals Can Take It from There  

On top of structural repairs solving the immediate issue of your sagging floor, structural repair experts at Ohio Basement Authority can help you decide on preventative measures like basement waterproofing or crawl space encapsulation. By layering repair and prevention options, you can ensure that your investment will give you many more years to come with your beautiful, historic home.  

Contact us today to schedule a free inspection and repair estimate.  

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