There can be several reasons why the floors above a crawl space foundation seem bouncy, out of level or wavy. Floors that sag or bounce are not only a huge nuisance to homeowners; but can also leave homeowners wondering if there’s a possible safety issue, or an expensive structural repair lurking in the future.
If you have bouncy floors in your home, you can usually detect this condition simply by walking across the floor in question. You can literally feel the floor shake or bounce up and down. Sometimes when walking across a bouncy floor you’ll even hear it squeak or make other noises. In other cases, you’ll notice that items in cabinets or on nearby tables or countertops will start to shake.
Obviously, these telltale signs of flawed floors are upsetting. Any homeowner who encounters this problem will want to know what is causing bouncy floors, what can be done to correct the problem, and how much this repair work will cost.
The good news is that an experienced foundation repair contractor will usually be able to provide succinct answers to the above-mentioned questions. Bouncy floors are sometimes due to undersized floor joists -a miscalculation that occurred when the house was built.
In other cases, the beam that provides mid-span support for the joists on the first floor may have settled or bent downward due to support posts that have deteriorated or shifted. After all, many older homes were built with wood support posts in the crawl space or basement rather than steel posts. Wood posts are vulnerable to rot and insect attacks.
Fortunately, these causes of bouncy floors can be corrected without major disruptions to the living space. An experienced foundation repair contractor will have to tools and materials to reinforce undersized joists and elevate a settled mid-span beam back to its original position, this time installing steel columns that won’t succumb to rot or insect attack.
Sloping floors can be more difficult to detect in a home than bouncy floors. Bouncy floors have a distinctive spongy feel underfoot, and can even creak or make other noises, while sloping floors can still feel solid. If you suspect that the floor in a room slopes, it’s easy enough to test your theory. Place a small to medium-sized marble on what you suspect to be the “high” side of the floor and see if it rolls downward.
A sloping floor can be caused by the same conditions that turn a stiff floor into a bouncy one– even though one feels solid while the other doesn’t. When the floor slopes toward the center of the house, a foundation repair specialist will probably suspect the center beam in the crawl space (or basement).
If the floor slopes downward as you move toward an exterior wall of the house, a couple of conditions may be causing the problem. The ends of the floor joists and rim joist along this side of the house may have rotted and collapsed, causing the floor to sink down. Or the foundation wall may have settled, causing the entire side of the house to settle. In either case, an expert contractor will have to conduct the repairs.
Unfortunately, wavy floors can be more difficult to diagnose and correct. Sometimes wood flooring (like common oak strip flooring, for example) can swell and buckle if it gets wet because of a leak or spill. In other cases, it’s possible for a wood floor to become uneven or wavy because the flooring itself hasn’t been properly installed.
Wavy flooring can be caused by problems with the beam that provides mid-span support beneath the floor joists on the first floor. If there’s just a small section of the floor that is uneven, the problem can sometimes be traced to a single joist that has a defect such as a crack or knot which causes the joist to bow up or down.
Floors that sag, bounce, or present a wavy, uneven surface affect a home’s appearance, comfort, safety and resale value. That’s why these problems should be addressed sooner rather than later. An experienced foundation repair contractor is most likely to arrive at an accurate diagnosis of unstable floor problems, and provide the most successful, long-lasting solutions to these problems.