How to Fix a Sagging Bathroom Floor
LESLIE: Andrea in Pennsylvania is on the line with a bathroom-flooring question. How can we help you?
ANDREA: I have a half-bath. It is about 3×3 and to the back of the wall, where the toilet and the sink are, there is a gap that starts about an 1/8-of-an-inch and it goes to about an inch-and-a-quarter. And below it, in the basement, there is a hole that – a cinder-block hole – that you can see. I crawled in there, then – yeah and it was disgusting, let me just tell you.
TOM: I bet.
LESLIE: I’m sure.
ANDREA: But there was some sort of water damage.
TOM: Hmm. So …
ANDREA: But when you go to the bathroom in the wintertime, it’s a little chilly.
TOM: Yeah. So, do you think that the floor dropped?
ANDREA: I don’t know if the floor dropped or if it’s from some sort of – connected to it used to be a refrigerator that had an ice maker.
TOM: That’s a big gap.
ANDREA: And it was connected to the toilet tank.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Wow.
TOM: A refrigerator/ice maker connected to the toilet tank.
TOM: That’s some house you’ve got there, Andrea.
LESLIE: That sounds weird.
ANDREA: Oh, my house was built in the 1930s.
TOM: They probably just tapped into the water line near the toilet tank and that’s how they fed the ice maker. Let’s hope that’s how they did it.
TOM: Let’s hope they weren’t making ice out of the toilet water. That would be pretty gross.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness.
ANDREA: I hope not. That would have been pretty bad.
TOM: Now, in terms of this sloping floor – sagging floor – the crack that you see, when you say it’s a crack, you’re talking about between the wall and the floor, correct?
ANDREA: Correct, correct.
TOM: Alright. So it clearly looks like the – either the wall levitated or the floor dropped.
TOM: And the floor dropped – when the floor dropped, it dropped with the toilet in it, so it must have been slow over time. Otherwise, you’d have leaks all over the place. I suspect that something’s going on with the floor here.
So the question is, first, do we have a structural problem?
TOM: My answer is I don’t know, because I didn’t see that crawlspace. But if you go down there and take a bunch of photographs and post them in the Community section on MoneyPit.com, I will take a look at it for you.
ANDREA: OK. Oh, I’d appreciate that.
TOM: Or you could have a carpenter or an engineer, home inspector take a look at that.
If the floor has just settled that way because it’s an older house and it’s just kind of worked its way into that position but doesn’t seem to be structurally damaged, then we have to deal with just the cosmetics of it. And the way to do that might simply be to install baseboard molding or adjust the baseboard molding that’s there. Is there molding there at all now? Is there a baseboard?
ANDREA: No. Not at all.
TOM: Yeah, so …
ANDREA: Right now I have it stuffed with some Styrofoam.
TOM: Yeah. Well, I would certainly fill the gap. I would insulate under that crawlspace floor, too, so that it’s warmer in there for you in the wintertime. But then I would just put a piece of baseboard molding. I’d let the molding ride down on the floor so the molding will be crooked with the floor.
TOM: And I think that that’s OK. And if you paint it the same color as the wall, it would not be noticeable.
ANDREA: Oh, that would be excellent. That seems simple enough for me.
TOM: Alright, Andrea. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.