Hire a Home Inspector for a Sagging Wall
LESLIE: Taking a call from Ken in Oklahoma who’s dealing with a saggy wall. Where is it? What’s happening? What are you seeing?
KEN: Well, I bought an older house; my wife and I. And one of the interior walls that runs from the front to the deck of the house has about three-and-a-half inches of sag. I assume it’s from settling and it’s something that we didn’t notice because when we looked at the house there was furniture and stuff in it and it kind of hid the sloping of the floor.
LESLIE: Is the floor sloping or is the wall sort of gaping out, I guess is the word?
KEN: No, it’s – the floor is sloping towards where it’s – the low spot.
TOM: OK, and what is the floor made out of?
KEN: It’s a wood floor.
TOM: It’s a wood floor. And how old is the house, Ken?
KEN: Probably about 70, 80 years old.
TOM: Alright. Well, a sloping wood floor in an 80-year-old house is not all that unusual. The area that has to be inspected is under the floor and so you need to get under the floor and have a look and see what’s causing this. Now, if it’s a sagging girder or if it’s a split floor joist or something of that nature, that can be easily fixed. But what is below this floor? Is it a crawlspace? A basement? What?
KEN: It’s a crawlspace.
TOM: OK. So, what you’ve got to do here is an inspection of the crawlspace and if you don’t want to do this you could hire a home inspector to do it. But you need to try to determine where this low part is in the floor and then look at the floor structure and determine why it’s sagging. Now, it could very well be that it’s just sagged over the 70 or 80-year-old lifespan of this house and that’s not all that unusual and you know, I would kind of credit that to charm. You know, I wouldn’t necessarily think that you need to do any fixing there. But if it turns out that there’s a rotted beam or there’s termite damage or something of that nature then it might have to be addressed.
KEN: Because I hadn’t noticed any damage. I’ve been under there a couple times because we added a second bathroom.
KEN: But it’s just – right where that walls at is where the rooms surrounding it slope toward that; especially right in the middle between the living room and the dining room.
TOM: Is there a girder under that area?
KEN: Yes, there is.
TOM: Well, the girder is sagged then. You know, this may be beyond your expertise to check and determine what’s going on. I might suggest that you hire a home inspector to have a look.
TOM: Did you have an inspection done when you bought the house?
KEN: No, we didn’t.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah, well that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do …
TOM: … because a home inspector may have picked this up. But you know, listen, call one in now and get a second opinion. Not a contractor because a home inspector’s not going to sell you anything here. We don’t want a contractor to come in and sell a repair you don’t need. So hire a home inspector. You can go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. It’s a not-for-profit organization that tests and certifies home inspectors at ASHI.org. Put in your zip code. They’ll give you a list of certified ASHI inspectors in your area. Pick one from that list and let them take a look. Find out what’s going on then you’ll know what to do about it.
Ken, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
KEN: Thank you.