As homeowners, we do not always take into consideration all the aspects that make up our home. A strong roof, straight wall… a firm and steady floor; these are all things that homeowners in Grand Junction, CO take for granted from time to time. This is something we are all guilty of, but it is something we should all avoid. Taking note of any springiness or unevenness in your flooring and acting quickly is key.
When you act quickly in the face of structural damage (and sagging flooring is a form of serious structural damage), you are saving yourself a huge amount of time and money. If you are to catch the signs of floor damage early, then you need to know what can cause sagging, the problem signs, and what you can do to fix the issue.
What Causes Floors to Sag?
At the most basic level, sagging floors are an issue that center on a lack of support or an excess of weight. If you notice that there is an uneven or sagging floor in your home, the most probable cause of this is an issue with or damage to the joists and beams that support it and hold it in place. The precise cause of these issues, however, can vary.
The most common causes of damage and sagging in a property’s flooring include, but are not limited to:
Defects in the flooring or its support systems as a whole are unlikely to be the main cause (because they are uncommon in modern properties), but not impossible. There are two main ways this can impact your home: through flawed materials or a faulty design and construction process.
For example, if the wood used to make your property’s floor joists and support beams have large flaws running through it, then even moderate amounts of pressure or weight could lead to it cracking quite seriously. Once a crack has started to form, the joist or beam will become progressively more damaged over time, which will weaken it and lead to sagging.
A design or construction flaw, by contrast, would be when the joists are healthy but over-spanned. Joist over span occurs when a property has too few support joists and beams or when a floor is overloaded beyond its weight-bearing capacity. This is unfortunately common because of the complex nature of joist calculation and installation.
Assuming that the joists that support your floor are not flawed and have been professionally installed the most probable cause of damage to their structure is wood rot. Wood rot is a form of fungal decay that relies on a certain level of dampness and humidity to spread and grow.
Wood rot comes in several forms; brown rot, soft rot, and white rot are the most common. Each of these are caused by a different form of fungus and presents itself differently, but they all cause the same issue. The issue being that the wood in question starts to rot and decay over time.
This causes the wood to lose its structural integrity and lessens its load-bearing capacity. As such, affected joists or support beams will start to sag and break, leaving the floor above without the support that it needs. This leads to unevenness, sagging, and, over time, the collapse of affected flooring.
Damage to the structure of your property as a whole can also lead to a sagging floor somewhere inside your home. That’s because of the way in which movement in a structure can cause the flooring to become disconnected from joists and beams. This will allow the floor to sag, even if the joists and supports are healthy and intact.
In the case of serious structural damage like foundation settlement and subsidence, however, the sagging may get progressively worse as the whole structure of your home moves and becomes exponentially more damaged.
Most issues that require foundation repair or structural stabilization for walls are based in the soil underneath your property. As such, they are issues that will only get worse with time and you should not ignore them! Acting quickly could make all the difference when it comes to repair costs and timescales.
In some cases, you may find that more than one of these issues is at work in your home if you have a pronounced sag or unevenness in your property is widespread. If there are no other issues visible in the area, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is not a huge problem. In truth, that is not the case.
Problem Signs of Floor Damage
To deal with these issues promptly, you need to be able to recognize the signs of damage and deterioration in your property’s structure and flooring. These problem signs are just some of the red flags that might show themselves when your property is having flooring damage, but they are the easiest to recognize for non-professionals.
Visible Sagging or Unevenness
The most obvious sign of damage to your flooring or the joists and beams that support it is a visible sag or unevenness. This can take the form of a uniform tilt from one side of the room to the other, sudden dips and sags, or irregular sagging and unevenness. The nature and placement of the sagging, as well as its severity, can help in the diagnosis of the underlying causes, so be sure to tell any professional that you contact just what you have noticed.
By the time that a visible unevenness has developed in your home’s flooring, you should assume that the damage is advanced and act quickly. It will develop at an alarming rate after a certain point (especially if the area sees regular use).
Bounciness or Springiness Underfoot
The first, and often most subtle, sign of damage to a property’s flooring and its support system is instability underfoot. Your flooring should be firm and stable at every point, so if one area starts to feel slightly springier or bounces underfoot when you walk, you should investigate. This can be caused by a gap between supports and the floor, of course, but it can also be the first sign of serious and widespread damage.
If you catch an issue at this stage, you will avoid a huge amount of worry and damage later.
Minor warping in floorboards can be caused by humidity and dampness, of course, but more serious warping is usually the result of more severe water damage. Serious warping can cause floorboards to heave upwards or pull away from each other, increasing the gaps between them. This will increase airflow, create drafts, and cause temperature fluctuations.
Unfortunately, once floorboards have been warped, replacing them is really the only option. Warped wood cannot be returned to its original state.
Because the structure of your property is made up of many parts that are all incredibly reliant on each other, any serious structural damage to your home will cause damage to spread through your home over time. So, while cracks to your concrete flooring or walls may not seem like a huge danger to wooden floors, it will affect them over time.
Furthermore, spreading cracks are a big red flag no matter where they are found. The fact that they are actively growing is a sign that a home is undergoing consistent and immense strain on an ongoing basis. As such, it is best to investigate and rectify the issue before it becomes too serious.
Floor and Wall Gaps
If you see gaps forming between your flooring and the walls that it should be connected to, you should ensure that you act quickly. No matter whether the gap is horizontal or vertical in nature, this kind of gap is a sign that something is pulling the walls and flooring apart.
Unsurprisingly, this is not good for the stability of your Grand Junction, CO home and will only get worse over time. This kind of disconnection can lead to bowing, buckling, or even collapsing walls and flooring in your property.
There are many kinds of fungi and while many are benign, none of them should be thriving within your home. You will recognize them by musty smells, discoloration, and visible formations.
The kinds of fungi that you should be most worried about, however, are those that cause wood rot. Wood decaying fungi are more dangerous than almost all kinds of mold, except for black mold. That can be lethal to those with serious respiratory issues and will lead to structural collapse if left to thrive.
You will recognize wood rot by changes in the texture of the wood that is being affected. The wood may take on a white-ish sheen or start to darken and look almost burned in texture. Wood that is rotting will also start to fall apart, either becoming brittle and crumbly or wet and soft. Either way, it will not support weight the way it was intended.
Cosmetic damage is any damage that affects the look of your property rather than its structural integrity. This includes problems like staining, bubbling wallpaper, mild warping or deformation in wood, and surface level, hairline cracks. These issues can develop into more serious structural issues over time, however, if the conditions are right.
These issues may not seem like much when compared to larger, structural issues, but they will affect the value of your home if you intend to sell or rent it. Furthermore, it will make your living environment less pleasant, which we feel is important. After all, your home should be your sanctuary.
A slight sag or bounce to a few of your floors may not seem like a huge problem when you have a whole home to look after, but we urge you not to ignore them. A sagging floor presents a real and present danger, and it serves as a warning sign of bigger things to come.
Injury and Accidents
One of the most immediate issues with a sagging or uneven floor in any part of a home is the potential for accidental injury. The instability of a sagging floor (and the uneven surface that it creates) makes it a huge tripping hazard. This is a danger to everyone who passes over it, of course, but those who already have issues with mobility, whether due to age or disability, are the most at risk of having an accident.
Tripping and falling is dangerous no matter where it happens, of course, but it is more of an issue inside a home where there are many different pieces of furniture that you could collide with. As such, a sagging floor presents a serious risk to your health and wellbeing in an immediate sense. Acting quickly could save you a lot of pain – quite literally.
Sagging floors are a warning sign of structural damage that should not be ignored. While we understand that many homeowners would rather wait until there is a significant issue before they act, this is just another way to store up trouble for yourself. Problem signs like uneven or sagging flooring are generally not the first red flags to display themselves.
A distinct and noticeable sag to your property’s floor is a sign that the joists or support beams have been damaged. This most commonly happens because of serious water damage or structural movement in a property. As such, a sagging floor can present the first available opportunity to catch and deal with a problem that threatens your whole home.
If you have ever looked into DIY options when it comes to floor repair, then you undoubtedly will have heard of a process called ‘sistering’. This process is widely praised by DIY enthusiasts but not looked upon so favorably by repair professionals who know the risks.
The Process of Sistering
Sistering, generally speaking, is a process where extra material is added to a damaged joist to bolster it. This is applied as an alternative to joist replacement and is often hailed as an effective way to raise a floor back to its intended height – at least by those who prefer to go it alone when it comes to repairs.
Firstly, the right material is needed to sister a joist. The material must be at least as strong as the joist was before it became damaged, as it will essentially be bearing the weight of the flooring in the place of that joist. To add the material, it will often be necessary to move the joist in question (which is one of the key issues). Once this is done, the damaged joist is strapped to the bolstering material. This, in theory, supports the floor. However, there are many problems with this process.
The Problem with Sistering Joists
There are many issues when it comes to sistering a damaged joist. Primarily is the fact that you must disturb the joist in question to add material. The problem with this is that you will further destabilize the joist in question. In fact, you could make the damage far, far worse and lead to the floor above sagging even more. Even if you do not, however, sistering is still ineffective for several reasons.
The main problem is that it’s an inherently temporary process that merely delays the inevitable collapse of the floor. Over time, the extra material will fall prey to the same pressures as the joist and end up cracking in the same ways. This means that it is a fundamentally inefficient and potentially dangerous way to deal with a sagging floor in or around your property. Instead, you should consider other, more long-term solutions that address the underlying cause of damage in your home.
To put it simply – no, there is no method of DIY repair that we would recommend as an effective solution for sagging floors in your home. While we understand the desire to save time and money, DIY is not an effective or viable solution.
The Problems with DIY
The problems with DIY are many, but there are some that you should pay attention to more than others. First, sagging floors are very often connected to serious structural issues inside a property. There is a chance that the issues causing your floors to sag are connected to foundation damage. If this is the case, then you will find that the repair process is complex and requires heavy machinery.
As well as there being the matter of skills and tools, foundational repairs (and, in fact, any structural repairs) can be dangerous when they are undertaken by someone who does not know what they are doing. This is because properties that have serious structural and foundational problems are unstable. The wrong solution may not simply be ineffective – it could make the problem worse. This can cause injury to anyone in the area.
The Benefits of Professional Help
One of the greatest benefits of hiring a professional is the fact that they have all the tools, skills, and products that they need to tackle even the most complex and serious issues already. Furthermore, if a professional has concerns about their ability to deal with an issue alone, they have skilled colleagues to consult and call in. This in turn makes professional repairs safer.
Plus, professionals have access to industry supply stores and can buy directly from manufacturers. This means that they can often give you a better result for the same cost, roughly, as you would have incurred buying the products and hiring the necessary tools and equipment yourself. Better still, it will save you the trouble and stress of doing it yourself!
Call Foundation Repair of Western Colorado for Floor Repair
Have you noticed sagging floors within your property? If so, your first call should be to the team here at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado; our team is one of the most skilled and experienced in the local area. We have decades of collective experience in dealing with structural damage of all kinds, including sagging floors.
You can arrange a free inspection appointment, complete with a written estimate for our suggested repairs and solutions. Contact our team directly to set a time and date for an appointment that suits your schedule and they will send a technician to assess the damage. Once they have diagnosed the underlying issues, they will provide you with a written estimate for the cost of our solutions.