Homeownership can be fraught with difficulties and issues at certain times. From dampness and mold to foundation and roof problems, it can be easy to wonder why you ever bought a home in the first place.
Amongst all these bigger and more noticeable issues, however, there is one that is rarely noticed or addressed; uneven floors are somewhat underestimated when it comes to property problems. While a tilted floor may raise eyebrows in a new build, for example, it can be seen as simply a quirk or a sign of age in an older home. Unfortunately, while a tilt to your floor can be inconvenient and unsightly, it is also a sign of a more serious, invisible problem.
Uneven Floors – What Do They Mean?
So, you’ve noticed a tilt to the floors in your home. Or perhaps you are thinking about buying a home and have noticed that the floors sit at a slight angle. This would make most people think twice for aesthetic reasons alone, but there are more pressing concerns when it comes to this issue.
Uneven floors are a sign that the foundation or overall structure of your home has shifted. This is a pretty serious problem, but the question you should be asking yourself is whether the problem that caused this shift is ongoing (e.g., whether the house is actively unstable). If the property in question is old, it’s possible that previous damage caused the foundation to shift, crack, or settle and previous owners investigated and completed repairs.
If this is the case, it would still be best to take action to bolster your foundation and even out your floors. If the problem has been ongoing, the tilt will likely continue to worsen. More than this, if the problem has not yet been addressed at all, you will likely find more issues when you begin to investigate. In short, uneven floors mean trouble and potentially serious renovation work in the future.
What Can Cause Uneven Floors?
There are many problems that could cause your floors to become uneven. They vary in levels of severity and repair costs, but they are all fairly serious and will require attention as soon as possible. The two main causes of tilted or uneven floors are:
If the floor is tilted at a steady angle from one side to the other, then it is most likely being caused by a problem with your foundation. The best way to figure out if the tilt is affecting your whole home is to check your basement, as this covers the majority of your home’s square footage.
Foundational issues that can cause tilting include sinking, settlement, and crumbling. Sinking implies that something is going wrong with the soil under your home, while settlement occurs when parts of your foundation sink into inconsistencies in the earth. A crumbling foundation, either at one side of your home or throughout, implies that several factors are coming together to degrade the foundation of your home.
All in all, however, what you as a layman need to take away from this is that an expert opinion is required immediately. There is very little, if anything, you can do to repair or bolster your home’s foundation without special tools and skills.
Sagging or Crowning Joists
If the floor is uneven in certain spots or rooms, the problem is far more likely to be found within the joists in your crawl space or basement. If the joists that support your floor are damaged, infested with termites, or have started to sag, you may see dips and sags in your floor. It is possible to repair or replace joists by yourself if you have the skills and tools, but if you are at all uncertain, it is best to call a professional.
Having an expert by your side is the best way to ensure this limited problem does not quickly snowball into something much more serious.
Uneven floors are very easy to recognize, whether you have a slight slant from one side of the room to the other or a sudden dip, damage like this is hard to miss. Sagging, uneven, or tilted floors can be caused by many different issues, but the most common are:
- Damaged Floor Joists
This is most common in upper floors and homes with crawl spaces. Cracked, damp, or otherwise damaged joists can start to sag over time, and as a result, your floor will sag too. This is most recognizable in floors that have sudden dips or feel bouncy or springy underfoot. Over time, a slight spring can lead to the floorboards in question becoming very unstable.
If this is left to escalate the floors could well collapse, of course, but there are other issues that are likely to crop up before this happens. For example, if the middle of the floor is sagging as a result of poor support, the floors could start to pull away from the walls at the edges, leaving gaps, causing drafts, and undermining the stability of your home as a whole.
- Foundation Damage
Foundation damage and settlement are some of the most common, and severe, causes of uneven floors in a property. Severe settlement or sinking can cause a large portion of your home to be uneven and lead to many serious problems throughout the structure of your home. After all, your foundation affects every part of your home.
If your uneven floors are being caused by sinking in your foundation, you are more likely to see a consistent tilt from one side of the room to the next. You’re also more likely to see spreading cracks in your walls or notice a gap between your walls and floors or ceiling if you have a sinking foundation.
Foundation settlement can be slightly more deceptive as it may lead to small sections of your foundation sinking rather than being a uniform issue.
Unlike many property issues, uneven floors almost always require professional attention. This is because of the complex range of factors that can be involved, but also because of the special tools and skills needed to repair the issues. The solution depends on what has caused the unevenness to begin with, but some possible solutions are:
- The IntelliJack™ System
The IntelliJack™ system is a unique and durable system of crawl space jacks that can be tailored to suit almost any home. This option has the added benefit of being the only solution that will stabilize the soil under it as well as supporting an uneven or sagging floor. Made from galvanized steel, these jacks are water-resistant and incredibly strong.
This means that the IntelliJack™ System is a permanent solution that will not let you down! It is also fairly easy to install (for a professional) and can be put in place within a day with minimal excavation and noise. As such, this is a strong option for anyone whose floors are sagging as a result of damaged supports, joists and other localized issues.
- Helical Piers
Foundation repair is never a small task, but helical piers are minimally invasive and give quick results when properly installed by educated professionals. These foundation piers are best for properties that are too light for push piers or located on challenging soil. If your floors are uneven because of a sinking foundation, helical piers can even be used to lift your property back into place!
Foundation repair is, of course, an intensive process that can be disruptive to your property and requires specialist tools. As such, you should never attempt to repair your foundation alone. Not only could you injure yourself or someone else, but you also run the risk of making the problem far worse in the long run.
Many home repairs can be done alone, but floor straightening, foundation repair, and joist replacement do not fall into this category. If you have issues like these, you must seek professional help. This is a matter of safety.
- Worsening Problems
If you attempt to straighten an uneven floor by yourself, you run the risk of making the problem worse by fixing the symptoms rather than the cause. For example, if you replace one damaged joist and leave it at that, you may not notice that other joists are infested with termites or that you also have a tilted foundation and dampness problems.
Furthermore, if you do find that your uneven floors are being caused by a serious underlying issue, you may need heavy equipment to undertake the repairs safely. This can mean that the cost of a ‘DIY’ Repair could be higher because of the cost of purchasing the right equipment! Finally, if your sinking foundation has affected the structure of your home as a whole, there is a chance that you could cause a collapse with poorly planned excavation.
- Professionals Provide Quality
We feel that you should contact an expert for every issue, but the need for professional help is never more pressing than when you have serious structural damage. Damage in your foundation, in particular, is very tricky to deal with. This is why there are foundation specialists within the construction industry; not every contractor can do this work.
So, when you hire an experienced and highly skilled professional to do this work, you can rest assured that you are getting the best, tailored-made solutions for your money as well as support in the event of a problem. This means that professional repairs are far more cost-effective in the long run. Of course, you can’t put a price on safety!
Identifying and Fixing the Problem
The easiest way to identify an uneven floor, if you are not certain just by looking at it, is with a level. Alternatively, you can try the low-tech solution of placing a ball or can on the floor to see if it rolls in any particular direction. Once you have ascertained that the floor is uneven, however, you should call a foundation repair specialist to figure out just what is causing the problem. Doing this will kill two birds with one stone, as foundation repair experts will not only identify the cause of the issue but will also be able to suggest a viable solution for your home.
Foundation Recovery Systems has been repairing uneven floors in and around Missouri since 1993; we know our stuff. Better still, we have different options when it comes to fixing the issue. No matter how advanced the problem is and whatever the size of your home, we will provide a customized repair plan that works. Better yet, we can also deal with any other problems we find along the way.
If foundational instability has caused dampness problems, leaks, mold, or even bowed walls, we can get your home back into shape quickly and efficiently. Our repair options for uneven floors include:
Our team will assess your home and decide which option is the best for you, but don’t worry—we’ll explain exactly why when we give our recommendations and quote. We know your home is important to you, and we want you to feel you are in the loop.
Call the Professionals Right Away
When you notice a tilt to your floors, it is time to call in the professionals. After all, this is a problem that will only get worse as time passes; fixing your floors will never be easier and cheaper than it is right now.
Foundation Recovery Systems is here to make sure your home is dry, stable, safe, and comfortable at every level. No matter where the root of the problem lies, our team will be able to identify and rectify it quickly and efficiently. We provide foundation repair solutions throughout Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Des Moines and Moberly. If you’re ready to get started, just contact us for a free foundation inspection and repair quote today!