Sagging Ground-Level Floor: Possible Causes and Solutions
LESLIE: Jessica in Missouri is dealing with a floor that’s sinking in on itself. What is going on over there?
JESSICA: Hi. I live in a 128-year-old house and my kitchen floor has settled, maybe, in the middle. If everything is not strapped to my walls, it will go towards the middle of my floor.
JESSICA: Yeah. So I didn’t know if you guys had any thoughts about a repair on that, if you think maybe it’s like a joist underneath there or …
TOM: Yeah, does it sit on a basement or a crawlspace, Jessica?
JESSICA: No, it’s dirt.
TOM: It’s dirt. So you can’t really get under it?
JESSICA: I have a crawlspace that I can get underneath it but it’s in the opposite side of my house.
TOM: OK. So, can you get down there and physically examine the beams to see what’s going on?
JESSICA: Yes. But it would take the size of a small child to get underneath there.
JESSICA: So, there lies another problem – is how to see what’s going on, where the best place would be to go in at to try to get that …
TOM: Listen, I had to do a plumbing repair project on my own home, in a crawlspace that was about 6 inches taller than me flat on my back. So I know how tough it is to work in spaces like that. You’ve got to kind of shimmy in to get there.
But the thing is, I am concerned with this sagging, that somebody has a look at that – those beams – to make sure there’s nothing structural going on, like a termite infestation or something of that nature. If it’s just normal sagging, well, I mean there are some things that we can do from the top side to address that.
One of which comes to mind is that you could use a floor-leveling compound on this old floor. To do so, you are really talking about the entire kitchen floor, including the cabinets. Because to do it just in the middle might not be enough. You really have to go wall to wall on this room. And because it’s a kitchen, it becomes very, very complicated to do that.
But the first thing is to evaluate the structure to make sure that there’s nothing going on there. And then the second thing is to look for a solution above it. It’s generally not possible to raise up a floor that’s already sagged, especially in a really old house, because it took 120 years to get in that position and you’re just not going to bring it back up again. Sometimes you can reinforce it a little bit with some additional beaming and stiffen it up a bit. But generally, if you want to level it, you’ve got to do that from the top side and not from the underside in an old house, OK?
JESSICA: OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate you guys’ time.