Every house can encounter problems, but no homeowner should have to live with uneven, sagging floors. There are a several problems that could lead to this, and spotting and fixing these problems are important, especially when buying a house.
A home inspection before entering a real estate agreement will help ensure that there are no unforeseen problems with any components of a property, including the flooring. The older the house, the more likely the chance the floors need attention.
Don't wait until after moving in to have everything looked at, as that could mean a headache when selling in the future - or a large repair bill now when that might have been the responsibility of the previous occupant.
Find the cause of the problem
Identifying when or why a floor begins to sag might be difficult, but it is crucial to overall home safety. Needless to say, structurally weak flooring is a serious problem, and it poses a number of safety concerns. Squeaking floors are also indicative of a problem, instead of just being a nuisance.
In addition, a dipping floor is one of the most frequent complaints in old homes, according to Old House Journal. Sometimes the concern is minor, and more of an inconvenience than anything else. However, it may also be an indication of a greater problem.
One main reason why floors sag is because the edges are build over a foundation, while the center isn't, Old House Journal explained. With the middle being less supported, it tends to move more than the edges, especially as a home ages. Sometimes, the support beams aren't in good enough shape to continue working, and this can lead to issues.
Therefore, one of the first places to check is the basement. Where beams and posts meet the floor is a common weak point, and any supports buried in dirt or with poured concrete around the edges are likely to adjust over time, creating a chain reaction up the entire home.
Another frequent cause are the floor joists. Many contractors may be tempted to cut sections out of these support beams to account for pipes, wires or ductwork, according to Old House Journal. Doing this can damage structural integrity, possibly leading to a sagging floor.
If everything starts to move, have a property inspection completed to get to the root of the problem, so a home doesn't become unsafe to live in.
Possible solutions for a sagging, squeaking floor
If the cause is a floor joist, a simple switch may be the best fix, according to MSN Real Estate. This can be relatively cheap, but it might also take an expensive turn, depending on the extent of the damage.
Additionally, broken concrete slabs also might contribute to a dipping floor. If this is the case, typical repairs include drilling holes and re-filling with new concrete. If an entire floor needs to be re-leveled, the costs may be more. Catching a problem with a home inspection early is a good way to keep expenses down.
A squeaking floor is also a possible symptom of an unsafe floor. To find the source, it helps to have multiple sets of eyes. If the problem is located on a section that is accessible from below, that makes it easier to find and fix, according to The Family Handyman.
If the problem is caused by major damage, calling a professional to replace the pieces is ideal. If it is on the smaller side, sometimes inserting shams into any gaps between the joist and the subfloor will work. Reinforcing the joists might also be needed, but be careful to use licensed contractors to avoid doing any additional damage.
Spotting a problem doesn't have to be tricky with a home inspection, and fixing damaged floors fast will keep a house safe.