Ideally, the problems that originate in your crawl space would stay in your crawl space. This isn’t how water damage in your home works though. If you leave water or moisture in your crawl space for too long, you will see the effects of that moisture elsewhere in your home. Your floors, for example, can start to show signs of wear, especially if your I-beams start to give out.
Moisture begets wood rot and bowing walls. As soon as your wooden supports stop supporting your floor, you’ll start to notice bouncing and unsafe floors. The good news is that area professionals can help you restore your property, starting with your crawl space.
Warning Signs of Sagging Floors
The earliest signs of sagging floors are typically the most severe. If you can catch sagging floors early on, you’ll be able to fix them more easily. Here are four of the most prominent warning signs of sagging floors.
- Moving Objects and Furniture
When you place items down, do they stay where you put them? If your items and furniture are moving around when you place them down, chances are that your floor is tilted. That tilted floor is one of the most prominent warning signs of sagging floors. If you ever notice this problem, make sure you contact an expert to talk about it.
- Bouncing Floors
Floors should feel sturdy, not bouncy or “squishy”. If you jump on your floor, is there any sort of a “bounce” to it? If so, it might be an indication that your floor joist has a problem.
- Ceiling and Wall Cracks
When your floor joists stop holding up the floor as well, the floor is going to start to sag. However, this doesn’t just impact the floor. Because the floor is attached to the walls, which are attached to the ceiling, issues with your floor joists can cause ceiling and wall cracks as well. Make sure you’re on the lookout for new ceiling and wall cracks to check for floor joist problems.
- Jammed and Sticking Doors and Windows
Doors and windows should never jam and stick in their frames. If they are, the chances are high that there’s a pretty serious problem. Whether the problem is waterlogging in the frame or a floor joist shift that’s caused the frame to move out of place, you need to make sure you’re noticing issues with sticking doors and windows.
Reasons for Sagging Floors Throughout Your Home
The floors throughout your home, as mentioned, tend to sag when their joists give out. The joists in your crawl space may give out due to age, but often, moisture is to blame. There are a few different ways that moisture can get into your home. The most common include:
- Hydrostatic pressure
If there’s a force that has a grudge against your home, it’s hydrostatic pressure. While this force doesn’t work with malevolent intent, it tends to be behind the bulk of the damage that your crawl space must deal with, even if other forces contribute to its structural weaknesses. As moisture meets the cement and other materials building up your home, it can exert powerful pressure on the underground structures causing them to crack. Moisture can more readily make its way into your home via those cracks, adding to the hydrostatic pressure that your home faces and generally making conditions inside worse.
- Tree roots
Like hydrostatic pressure, tree roots are destructive. Instead, tree roots can grow beneath and around your crawl space as they’re seeking nutrients. As they move, these roots can force hollows to open beneath your crawl space. Your crawl space can sink into those hollows and fall out of alignment. If there are gaps between your floor and walls or any of your other sensitive supports, then moisture can more easily get inside and damage your joists.
Pests, like tree roots, cause hollows to open beneath your crawl space. There’s more than one type of pest that can make its way into your home, though. Mammals like groundhogs and rabbits are the critters most likely to cause hollows to open beneath your home. Rodents, including squirrels, are more likely to damage your internal insulation and drywall, allowing hydrostatic pressure to have an immediate and negative impact on the integrity of your home. Insects, including carpenter ants and termites, can eat away at your unprotected wooden supports, weakening your floor and making it prone to sinkage.
These forces are the ones that have the greatest impact on the structural integrity of your home’s floors. You’re going to need to take them seriously and invest in comprehensive repairs if you want to protect both the upper floors of your home and your crawl space from future damage.
Fixing Sagging Floors
Most forms of floor damage can be traced to some failure of your floor joists. After all, as moisture makes its way into your home, it can compromise the integrity of any unsealed or unprotected wood you have throughout your home. If your joists start to rot or pop out of place, they can disrupt the unity of structure that otherwise keeps the whole of your floor in place.
One of the ways that Mount Valley Foundation Services can help you fix your sagging floors is by installing the IntelliJack™ system. This system isn’t like sistering joists and adding extra material to joists that just don’t have enough support. It lifts the joist from underneath, allowing it to be sturdy and strong, as though the joist had the same support it was supposed to have in the building process.
Signs of Additional Crawl Space Damage
You don’t have to wait for your floors to give out to get in touch with the professionals serving your area. Instead, keep an eye on the area around your crawl space. This space tends to give its damage away, meaning you can watch for symptoms and respond accordingly if you think something’s wrong.
Some of the most prominent symptoms of crawl space damage include but are not limited to:
- Unpleasant smells
- Bowing walls
- Buckling floors
- Standing water
- High levels of humidity throughout your home
Note that these symptoms can also indicate foundation damage. If you notice any of these symptoms appearing individually or collectively, reach out to an area professional for a crawl space inspection. A contractor can tell you what’s gone wrong with your home as well as what means you have available to you to fix it.
Precisely determining what has gone wrong in your crawl space isn’t as easy as you want it to be. After all, many of the symptoms of damage that can appear in your crawl space can indicate something wrong with your insulation just as easily as they can indicate a wall crack, a leak, or even foundation damage. When the stability of your floor is in question, you’ll want to identify the source of your damage right away. With that in mind, the professionals in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Sumter, Florence, Greenville, Charleston, Asheville, Augusta & Savannah can help via a crawl space inspection.
- An Initial Inspection
To kick off your crawl space inspection, professionals need to look at the entrance to your space. Your entrance needs to be up to code if professionals are going to enter your crawl space at all. If your entrance fails its inspection, you can work with contractors to bring it up to size or otherwise remove or relocate any dangerous materials that may put inspectors at risk.
Once inspectors can make their way into your crawl space, they’ll begin their superficial inspection. This inspection process encourages contractors to identify anything obviously wrong with your space, like standing water, sagging I-beams, and so on. Our experts who come away from an initial inspection noticing obvious signs of structural damage can then provide you with a comprehensive quote noting what repairs your home may need and how soon those repairs need to be implemented.
- A Preventative Inspection
If your crawl space makes it through both the initial and superficial inspection, crawl space companies will progress to the comprehensive inspection. During this phase of an inspection, professionals will identify any weak points in your crawl space that forces like hydrostatic pressure, tree roots, and pests might otherwise take advantage of.
Upon identifying your crawl space’s weakest points, professionals will provide you with a quote recommending crawl space waterproofing measures or temporary repairs. Waterproofing measures that are properly installed throughout your crawl space can help you eliminate any incoming moisture that might put your joists at risk, meaning your floor should be safe for months and years to come.
If you’re concerned about repairing damaged floors in your home, you may be reluctant to work with the professionals in your area. After all, even if the damage you’re contending with originates in your crawl space, won’t it be less expensive to repair it on your own? Not necessarily. DIY home repair is often far more expensive than most homeowners anticipate. If you don’t have experience repairing your crawl space and floors, you may make mistakes that exacerbate the damage you’re already dealing with.
- The Trouble with DIY Mistakes
If you’ve never repaired a significant part of your home before, then you may not know what kind of intensive work crawl space repairs involve. Your floors are going to need special care if they’ve started to sag. Most of the time, you can blame a sagging floor on damaged joists or I-beams. Replacing these beams is almost impossible on your own, as you’ll compromise the structural integrity of your entire home if you’re not able to immediately install your replacements.
Professionals have the hands they need to make sure that your home stays in good condition throughout the floor repair and replacement process. You won’t have to worry about parts of your floor caving in, for example, if you rely on area contractors to see your repairs through. If you do attempt DIY floor support and joist repair, you may even end up calling professionals, anyway. Mistakes made during the DIY process often require a professional touch—one that’s going to be more expensive as more DIY mistakes pile up.
- The Cost of Crawl Space DIY
Many homeowners also underestimate how much crawl space and floor repair is going to cost them. While you won’t have to factor man hours into your budget, you will have to keep materials and single-use tools in mind. If you make mistakes while on the job and subsequently damage some of your materials, then you’ll also have to factor in those materials’ replacements.
When you work with area professionals, on the other hand, you don’t have to worry about the material cost of your repairs quite as much. Professionals already have the tools they need to wrap up your repairs on hand. This means that you can avoid single-use tool purchases while also benefiting from industry deals the experts in South Carolina have with manufacturers down their supply chain.
You never want to try and repair sagging floors or a damaged crawl space on your own. Instead, if you think the structural integrity of your home is at risk, reach out to the professional crawl space companies in your area. After an initial home inspection, they can let you know about the repair and replacement methods that might suit your home best. When you’re contending with sagging floors and a moisture-damaged crawl space, these methods can include:
- Repairing Your Sagging Floors
The floors in your home often start to sag when their joists give out. To stop that sagging, you’ll need to replace and reinforce the joists in your crawl space. This process can see contractors import stronger, water-resistant woods to install throughout your home. Professionals can also seal these woods to limit their exposure to moisture in the long term. Before installing these new joists, they can even place a secondary plank beneath your existing floor to better lift the old material back into place. Then they can secure your joists—usually I-beams, though your options will vary based on the make of your home—and ensure that your home is as stable as possible.
That said, you can usually blame joist damage on unusually high levels of moisture in your crawl space. With that in mind, you’re going to need to invest in crawl space repairs before you install new joists throughout your home. To do so, the professionals serving Columbia, Charleston and Augusta, will need to identify how that unwanted moisture is making its way into your home. After a thorough inspection, professionals can fill or patch cracks, lift your crawl space back into place, or even use wall anchors to secure your drooping walls. Once these issues are properly seen to, you can rest easy knowing that the worst of your crawl space’s water damage—and subsequently your floor—is behind you.
- Getting Ahead of The Damage
One of the best things professionals can do after repairing your damaged floors is to help you get ahead of any comparable losses. This often means waterproofing your home. There are a few different ways you can waterproof your property and your crawl space, in particular. The means that suit you best are going to vary based on the size of your crawl space, the damage you’ve seen in the past, and any new installations in your crawl space.
Vapor barriers and full crawl space encapsulations tend to benefit homes that see more humidity than they do physical flooding. Sump pumps and interior drains help eliminate the standing water that might otherwise negatively impact your home. Professional landscapers may even be able to help eliminate some of the moisture from your home by regrading the soil around your perimeter. You can pair these home waterproofing measures with one another for improved benefits. If you’re not sure which ones to consider first, sit down with the professionals in your area for an initial consultation.
Let Area Professionals Go to Work for You
Is your floor sagging? Does your crawl space smell? You don’t have to take on this kind of damage alone. Instead, you can reach out to the professionals serving Columbia, Charleston and Savannah. Our certified field inspectors in your area will help you understand the cause of your home’s damage, and recommend solutions. You’ll have the chance to look over a free services quote detailing first the cost of those repairs and then the cost of any home waterproofing measures that might protect your home in the future.