Your crawl space can fall victim to all kinds of damage. Let your crawl space go unattended for long enough, and you may even find that the damage therein starts to affect other parts of your home.
Long-term exposure to moisture, for example, can compromise the structural integrity of your floor joists. These joists hold your upper floors in place. Damaged floor joists destabilize your floor, causing it to bounce, squeak, and put your family’s safety at risk.
You may not need to replace the whole of your floor if it’s your joists that are damaged. Instead, you can connect with the professional contractors serving Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO, to discuss what kind of repairs and crawl space waterproofing measures may help you restore your home’s lost value.
Introducing Your Joists
If you didn’t have a hand in building your home, there may be many working parts that you don’t know about. The floor joists in your crawl space are some of those parts.
Construction teams install joists—most commonly I-joists—beneath the floor of your home to ensure your floor’s stability. Without these joists in place, your floor may start to sag, bounce, or otherwise prove unsafe to walk on.
Over spanned floor joists are specifically joists that have too much weight on them. When an expert designs and builds a home, the floor joists can support a specific amount of weight. If either the designer or the building team mess something up regarding these floor joists, it’s possible to end up with floor joists that are carrying more weight than they safely can. This excess weight can cause the joists to sink too far, which is called over spanning.
What Causes Joist Damage?
Your joists most often suffer from damage due to the influence of an outside force. Some of the most common forces to work against the stability of your joists—and the stability of your crawl space in general—include:
Hydrostatic Pressure and General Water Damage
The most common force to work against your home, hydrostatic pressure forces your home’s structural materials to change size on a molecular level. Rapid changes in size can cause the structures in question to come under a significant degree of stress. That stress can result in cracks and damage that lead to a leaking basement floor. Additionally, water that raises your home’s humidity levels may cause mold to start growing on the floor joists, which can weaken the structure and even cause rotting.
Shifting Soil and Foundation Damage
There are a few different forces that can cause the soil beneath your home to shift. Larger pests, like rabbits and groundhogs, can build warrens beneath your crawl space that your supports can sink into. Similarly, tree roots can cause hollows to open up beneath your home. As the supports in your crawl space sink, your joists can fall out of alignment. Plus, all of these things and more can cause damage to your foundation. If your foundation starts experiencing damage, you can be certain that your floor joists are going to start having a hard time supporting the home as a whole.
Certain types of soils are more prone to water absorption than others. If you live on mineral-rich clay, your soil may expand in the summer and contract in the winter. Expanding soil tends to press up against your home, forcing your walls and floor out of position. Come winter, when those molecules contract, your home can slip out of position, causing your basement floor to leak.
Termites and Pest Problems
By eating away at your floor joists, termites and general pests can seriously impact your home’s joists, easily causing over spanning. Some pests are more difficult to spot than others — termites, for example, are easy for an expert to spot, but fairly difficult for a general homeowner to spot. Regardless, all pests can negatively affect the home’s floor joists, so it’s always a good idea to stay on the lookout for any pests that might be eating away at your home.
Sometimes the team that initially built your home may have improperly installed your joists. Alternatively, they may have used low-quality wood or wood that already suffered from some degree of moisture damage. In these cases, your joists can begin to give out long before age or even environmental strain might force them to. You can work with area professionals to have your joists repaired and replaced, though, even if it isn’t water damage or another force actively compromising the integrity of your home.
Reasons to Worry About Over Spanned Joists
Over spanned joists are a little easier than most damage types to identify. The upper floors of your home tend to give away a damaged joist, bouncing when you step on them or otherwise making unusual amounts of noise. If you’re not sure what to look for when inspecting your crawl space for damage, however, you might not be able to suss out just why it is that your joists have started to fail.
If you have over spanned joists in your home, there are a variety of secondary concerns that you might end up with. Fixing your over spanned joists is important so you don’t have to worry about these issues:
- Leaning and Bowing Walls
One of the most common side effects that comes along with joist issues is that of leaning and bowing walls. If your floor starts to sag in the specific kind of way that comes along with over spanning issues, it’s going to pull the walls in with it. That means the walls are going to start to lean in toward the floor.
This definitely isn’t a good thing for your home overall, as wall problems can seriously impact the home’s structure, but it’s also a problem that’s likely to continue over time. The walls aren’t likely to lean a specific amount, then stabilize. Instead, the walls are likely to continue leaning more and more over time until they collapse.
- Floor Collapse
If your over spanned floor joists are too damaged and have too many problems, you could end up with serious problems with the floor up to and including complete floor collapse. A complete floor collapse can happen on any floor of your home; although it’s possibly more dangerous on upper floors, it can still happen on lower floors as well.
Ideally, you want to tackle the over spanned joists as early as possible so that you don’t have to worry about your joists eventually collapsing entirely. As soon as you start noticing the warning signs of over spanned joists, talk to an expert so you can learn more about your options for fixing the over spanned joists.
Repairing Your Damaged Joists
You should not try to replace damaged joists on your own. Similarly, you should not try to repair a damaged crawl space without first reaching out to area professionals. While DIY repairs seem like they can save you money, they can actually become quite costly, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The professionals serving Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO, can walk you through the process of repairing your joists with ease. They can take on the hardships of the project for you while ensuring that they both stay within your budget and protect your home from future damage.
To start repairing your damaged joists, area professionals will:
Remove and Replace Your Floor Joists
One of the most straightforward ways to replace damaged floor joists is to replace them entirely. To do this, some professional contractors may recommend that you relocate for a few days. During that time, they will disconnect your floor joists from your existing floor and dispose of them. They will also go about locating the source of moisture in your home that caused your joists to over span in the first place. However, this is deeply invasive, extremely expensive, and very difficult to do, meaning it should probably only be a last resort.
Sistering Floor Joists
Other contractors may also offer to sister your damaged floor joists. The sistering process adds material underneath your floor joists, which can ideally push the joist upward enough for it to stay sturdy. The main problem with sistering is that it’s always a temporary fix, and in some situations, it may even make the problem worse. Most of the time, sistering isn’t the best solution, as it doesn’t really fix much.
Install Additional Supports Beneath a Damaged Floor
If you’re concerned about the state of your floor as a cohesive piece, the professional contractors serving Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO have solutions that can help restore your faith in your flooring. Foundation Recovery Systems uses the IntelliJack™ crawl space support system to ensure that your floor is as well-managed as possible, so you don’t have to worry about over spanned joists ever again.
Note that your repair process may look different than your neighbors’. Professional contractors can give you a better idea of what to expect from your floor joist repair after an initial inspection of your crawl space, not to mention the rest of your home. You’ll have the opportunity to look over a free services quote detailing just what repairs your crawl space may need to bring your floor and joists back to a level of general security.
Over Spanned Floor Joists
Your floor joists are essential parts of a functional home. You may not notice just how important they are to your home’s structural integrity, however, until they start to fail.
Hardworking Floor Joists
The team that originally built your home will have installed floor joists in your crawl space and throughout your foundation. These joists are designed to support the weight of the upper levels of your home. More often than not, they’re made out of natural or treated wood—materials that can fall victim to water damage if you don’t take care of your home.
I-joists support your floor in a collaborative effort. A lone weakened joist isn’t going to spell the end for the upper floors of your home. However, if you allow a damaged joist to fester, or if you fail to recognize the other signs of damage that might appear in your crawl space, the system of joists beneath your floors may begin to fail entirely.
Signs of Floor Joist Damage
If you don’t know what signs of damage to watch for, then floor joist damage can seem to come out of nowhere. You tend to find yourself dealing with over spanned joists, however, when your crawl space suffers from an unusually high level of humidity. Other forces, like shifting soil, can also play a role in your joists’ condition, but even these forces tend to allow more moisture into your crawl space.
Unfortunately, the moisture that plagues your floor joists isn’t going to disappear unless you choose to do something about it. The longer you wait to repair minor damage in your crawl space or throughout your home, the worse that damage is going to become. With that in mind, some of the earliest signs of floor joist damage include:
- Standing water in the upper levels of your home
- Unusual levels of humidity in your crawl space and other floors of your home
- Damp walls
- Moisture on your windows and walls
If you find yourself contending with a bouncy floor or a floor that makes more noise than it used to, reach out to local professionals as soon as possible to schedule joist repairs.
If you like to get your hands dirty, or if you’re concerned about how much repairing the damaged floor joists in your crawl space may cost, you may be reluctant to reach out to area professionals. Trying to repair your joists and crawl space on your own can be dangerous, though. Instead of saving your money, DIY work can blow your budget without fixing the real problem that’s plaguing your crawl space.
The Cost of DIY Work
DIY work is not as inexpensive as it initially seems. This is especially the case if you don’t have any experience repairing joists in your home. To get started, you’ll need to invest in any tools you don’t have on hand. You’ll also need to research and bring home replacement joists that you think will work well with the joists in your home that you intend to retain.
These initial costs can compromise an inexperienced homeowner’s repair budget right off the bat. If you happen to make a mistake during the removal or installation process, however, you may need to replace any materials you’ve damaged. Similarly, the net loss you face when purchasing single-use tools for home repair often outweighs the benefit of doing repair work on your own.
Making Mistakes While Repairing Your Joists
Making mistakes while you’re learning a trade isn’t always a bad thing. The last thing you want to do, however, is to make a mistake while repairing damaged floor joists. If, for example, you think you’ve appropriately repaired a damaged joist, you may go about your daily life without noticing the damage you’ve overlooked. It’s also easy to cover up damage during a DIY repair job.
If you’re not able to address the source of damage in your home during a repair job, then you haven’t appropriately completed your work. Instead, you’ve covered up the damage, allowing it more time to fester and weaken the structural supports throughout your home. Comparatively, professionals can replace damaged joists while also repairing any cracks or other weak points that may be allowing unwanted moisture into your home. In short, professionals will ensure that your floors are secure and that your crawl space is watertight, whereas DIY tutorials may only help you address the symptoms of the real problem you’re contending with.
It can be tempting to wish joist damage away. Unfortunately, the problems you’re having with your crawl space aren’t going to disappear over time. In fact, the longer you let this kind of damage sit, the more likely it is that it will grow worse, not to mention more expensive to repair.
The Dangers of Ignoring Crawl Space Damage
Under ideal circumstances, the damage that plagues your crawl space would disappear over time. This, unfortunately, is not the case. The longer you let moisture sit in your crawl space, the worse the damage you’re contending with is likely to become.
Your floor joists suffer just like the rest of the structural supports in your home. When exposed to moisture in the long term, your joists can not only weaken but separate from one another entirely. Even if you can’t see a joist dislodge from its peers, the signs will reveal themselves in the upper levels of your home. Floors without their joists tend to be bouncy or to make unusual amounts of noise when you walk across them. If you find yourself dealing with these kinds of problems, you’ll want to reach out to area professionals for an inspection as soon as you can, or else the damage will only have additional time to worsen.
Long-Term Crawl Space Damage and Your Home’s Value
Damaged floor joists do more than bring the integrity of your floors into question. They can also lower the overall value of your property, especially if you fail to repair them.
You have the option, of course, to list a home that’s actively suffering from crawl space damage, including damaged floor joists. You will have to note any existing damage in your listing, however. Potential buyers may still come out to your property, but there will be no hiding the damage in your home from them. Instead, you may have to compromise on your home’s market price. Homeowners who fail to address damage in their crawl spaces, including failing or over spanned joists, can lose up to 30 percent of their home’s market value, as potential buyers will want compensation for their future restorative efforts.
Reaching Out to Area Professionals
Repairing damaged floor joists in your crawl space can feel like a daunting task. No homeowner has to go about the process alone, nor should they. Instead of letting the damage in your home sit or trying to repair it yourself, you can reach out to an area professional as soon as you suspect that something’s gone wrong.
The professional contractors at Foundation Recovery Systems that serve Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO, can inspect your home on your schedule, looking over your crawl space for signs of leaks or other damage. If you’re contending with over spanned floor joists, they can safely secure your floors and restore your home’s original value.
Are you ready to connect with an area professional? Reach out today to schedule your free crawl space inspection and repair quote.