CommunityCategory: CommunityIs There Any Way to Stop My Home from Settling?

Is There Any Way to Stop My Home from Settling?

Dale Fish
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Our 1937 built house just keeps on settling. I always have to re-adjust doors, entry, and interior. Is there any way to get a happy medium so I don’t have to keep adjusting?

The Money Pit Answer

Well, they don't build them like they used to and a 1937 house is probably pretty well-built. The problems with the windows and doors not fitting properly, sticking, and requiring regular adjustment may or may not actually be due to settling. It could just be normal expansion and contraction, which happens seasonally. If the doors and/or windows were not put in correctly, it's possible that they were installed too tightly. They may have a tight tolerance as a result, causing them to be unable to expand and contract with the rest of the building.

The first thing I would do is have a professional take a look at the installation of the worst ones. It's possible that they could be rehung in such a way as to provide a bit more space - around the door, for example - so there is room for the door to expand and contract.

Now, if you're seeing other evidence of movement in the house - like cracks forming above doors/windows, seams in the walls, or cracks in the foundation, I would be more concerned about the possibility of a structural problem. In that case, I would have the home inspected by a professional inspector. You can find one through the American Society of Home Inspectors. I would not call a contractor for this because they are just going to find a problem they would like to fix. Home inspectors don't have that conflict of interest. 

If the home is settling, there could be multiple reasons why this is happening. The most common of which is poor drainage at the foundation perimeter. Many times, water will collect around the exterior foundation of walls. They become weaker and will settle or move downward, forcing a realignment of everything in their path. This would be one easy thing for you to check. If the problem continues, I would definitely get professional help. The faster you get it fixed, the cheaper the problem will be.

Good luck with this project, and let us know how it goes!