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Why The Floors In Your House Are Sinking and How to Fix Them

Table of Contents

Understanding the Causes of Floor Sinking

When your house’s floors start to slope or sink, it’s not just an eyesore—it’s a sign that something bigger might be wrong. Imagine your home is like a giant Lego structure sitting on a pile of dirt. If the dirt underneath starts to move or isn’t strong enough, your Lego house can begin to tilt or even sink in some spots.

Is your home’s floor sloping or sinking? Discover the serious underlying issues that might be causing it, common signs it’s happening and repair options.

If you notice your floors dipping, it’s a heads-up that a problem needs your quick attention. Often, this happens because the ground under your house is settling or shifting, there’s inadequate foundation support, or there’s been some water-related damage. Figuring out what’s causing the issue early on can save you from spending much more on repairs.

Early Signs of Sinking Floors

Keep an eye out for early warning signs around your house. If you see cracks in the walls or floors, doors and windows that don’t shut properly, or if the floors feel uneven, these are red flags.

If your floors dip or slope, it’s easy to spot. You might notice that the floor looks tilted or that objects roll across it. These signs indicate that the foundation has settled improperly, resulting in the sloping of the floors.

Catching the symptoms of floors sinking in your house can help prevent more significant structural problems later.

Signs of Foundation Problems

How Do I Know if My Floor is Collapsing?

Sagging floors are not only unsightly, but they can also be dangerous. A sagging floor indicates that it has lost support and may eventually collapse into lower levels of the home. The overall structure of your home could be at risk. To figure out if your floor might soon collapse involves monitoring for more severe symptoms beyond the early signs of sinking:

  • Deepening Cracks: Look for cracks in your floors or your basement walls that are getting wider.
  • Sloping Floors: You might notice that your floors aren’t flat. They could lean to one side, dip in the middle, or have spots that feel higher or lower than others. The floors might feel squishy or bouncy when you walk on them.
  • Unusual Noises: If you hear your floors or walls making creaking, cracking, or popping noises, it means something moving that shouldn’t be.
  • Difficulty Operating Doors/Windows: There is increasing difficulty in opening or closing doors and windows due to frame distortion.
  • Visible Foundation Gaps: Gaps between the foundation and the main structure signify severe settling or shifting.

Recognizing these signs early is extremely important because it allows for timely intervention, which can help mitigate the risk of a complete and catastrophic failure.

Why The Floors In Your House Are Sinking and How to Fix Them

If you’ve noticed that the floors in your house are starting to sink or feel uneven, it could be due to a few reasons, and each has its solution. Here are the predominant causes and their respective fixes:

  1. Soil Settlement: Imagine the ground under your house like a squishy mattress. Over time, this “mattress” can get squished down more in some places than others, especially if your house is a bit older. The compacted soil beneath your home can make your home lean or tilt because the foundation—the concrete base that your house sits on—doesn’t even have support anymore. Settlement is common in older homes. Fix: This is kind of like propping up a wobbly table leg. Professionals can add supports called piers or pilings underneath your house. These supports go down into the ground until they hit a solid layer of soil that doesn’t squish down. Underpinning the foundation with piers or pilings can stabilize the structure by transferring the weight to more stable soil layers, making your floors level again.
  2. Excessive Moisture: Water from leaks causing wood rot, poor drainage, or flooding can erode or soften the soil under the foundation. Fix: Implementing proper drainage systems and repairing leaks can mitigate water damage. In some cases, slab jacking, which involves injecting a mixture beneath the slab to raise it, can correct the sinking.
  3. Tree Roots: Big tree roots can grow under your house and make the foundation uneven, causing parts of it to lift or sink. Fix: Removing the trees and repairing the foundation with underpinning methods can address the issue.
  4. Construction on Unstable Soil: Building on expansive clay, peat, or fill soils can lead to foundation problems. Fix: Soil stabilization techniques, such as chemical injection or replacing the unstable soil with a stable material, can provide a long-term solution.
  5. Aging Infrastructure: Houses age, and like people, they can settle into their spots. As buildings age, the natural settling process can lead to the floor sinking, primarily if the initial construction does not provide sufficient support. Older buildings often have wood-framed foundations, which can get damaged over time by bugs, water, or the weather. Fix: Structural reinforcement or foundation underpinning can remedy the impact of aging.
  6. Poor Construction Practices: Inadequate soil compaction, undersized beams, or improper foundation laying can lead to later foundation issues. Fix: You can fix these mistakes by ensuring the foundation is solid via underpinning or another repair solution.
  7. Seismic Activity: Earthquakes and other seismic events can shift the ground, disturbing the foundation’s integrity. Fix: Seismic retrofitting, involving strengthening existing structures, can enhance resistance to earthquake activities.

Keeping Your Home’s Foundation Strong and Fixing Problems

Preventive measures and timely repair play pivotal roles in addressing floor sinking. To keep your home in good shape, here’s what you can do:

  1. Regular Inspections: Hire experts for annual inspections to check your house and identify potential issues early on.
  2. Proper Drainage and Soil Grading: Ensure adequate water drainage around your home. Water accumulation around the foundation is a leading cause of soil settlement. Ensure the landscape around your home slopes away from the foundation. Proper grading prevents water from pooling around the base, reducing the risk of soil settlement and water damage.
  3. Foundation Waterproofing: Applying waterproofing measures to your foundation can protect against moisture intrusion, a common cause of soil weakening and settlement.
  4. Use of Helical Piers: For homes experiencing minor to moderate sinking, installing helical piers can offer a less invasive solution. Imagine giant screws; these piers are twisted deep into the ground until they hit a solid layer of earth. Then, they’re attached to your house’s foundation to give it a sturdy lift and prevent further sinking. It’s like giving your home a solid pair of boots to stand in, and it doesn’t tear up your yard!
  5. Monitoring Moisture Levels: Keeping an eye on how humid or moist your house is can save you some headaches. If it’s too damp inside, the wood in your home (like in the floors or the structure) can rot or bend out of shape. That could make your floors uneven or cause more sinking. Think of it as ensuring your house isn’t taking an unwanted bath. Keeping things dry helps prevent a floor from sinking.
  6. Professional Soil Testing: Consider professional soil testing before undertaking significant landscaping or construction projects near your home. Understanding the composition and stability of the soil can guide appropriate building practices, helping ensure your project goes smoothly and safely.

Choosing the Right Professional Help

When fixing your home, especially when doing monumental repairs like the foundation, selecting experienced and reputable professionals is super important. You want to find experts specializing in foundation repair and soil management with specific expertise in structural engineering. Their insight and knowledge ensure the chosen solution effectively addresses the underlying problem— offering peace of mind and a clear direction for necessary repairs or preventative measures.

If you’re located in Nevada, Southern California, or Arizona, scheduling a free foundation inspection will connect you with a Foundation Repair specialist who can discuss your home’s sinking floors and conduct a thorough examination.

WRITTEN BY

Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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