Are you the owner of a home with a crawl space foundation looking for information on floor joist repair? If so, don’t hit that back button because that’s what this article is about.
Crawl space foundations come with their own unique set of issues that can crop up over time, including needing floor joist repair. If you’re a homeowner dealing with damaged or weakened floor joists beneath your feet, don’t panic. In this blog post, we’ll go through what floor joists are, the reasons you might need floor joist repair, floor joist repair options, and more.
What Is A Crawl Space Foundation?
A crawl space foundation raises the home anywhere from 1.5 to 3 feet off the ground creating a space underneath that’s just enough room to crawl around. Crawl space foundations were once very popular in the US because they offer easy access to the home’s plumbing and electrical wiring. However, that doesn’t mean crawl space foundations are trouble-free. For various reasons – which we’ll talk about in this article – the floor above the crawl space can start to sag or become uneven, requiring, in some cases, floor joist repair.
What Are Floor Joists?
Under your home, inside the crawl space, there are pier blocks, vertical support beams, and horizontal beams (or girders as they’re known on the west coast). On top of, but perpendicular to, the horizontal beams are the joists. The floor sits directly on top of the joists.
Reasons You Might Need Floor Joist Repair
While there might be a problem with the floor joists themselves, it’s also possible that you might need floor joist repair because there’s a problem elsewhere that’s affecting the floor joists. Here are some possible scenarios:
- Your home was built on weak soil – Some soil types perform better at holding up a foundation than others. If your home sits on top of weak soil, the support posts (see the above infographic) could settle into the ground. If this happens, even strong beams and joists won’t be able to support the floor.
- Your floor joists have weakened – This might be because of wood rot caused by excess moisture in the crawl space or from wood-eating pests such as termites.
- There aren’t enough joists, support posts, or beams – Sometimes, a home isn’t constructed correctly, and there are an inadequate number of joists, support posts, or beams to support the structure.
- There’s poor drainage around the home – Excess moisture in the soil around a crawl space foundation can cause the crawl space’s dirt floor to become soggy. If this happens, the support posts could sink into the ground and become non-vertical. For more information, see Water In A Crawl Space: Causes And Waterproofing Solutions.
The Basics Of Floor Joist Repair
In situations where the floor joists themselves are the problem, there are several possible repair solutions available including the following:
- The floor joists can be sistered – Sistering involves placing a healthy joist alongside the weakened one to relieve the weakened joist of some of the load.
- You can add more beams to support the floor joists – The more beams under the joists, the less pressure is placed on the joists.
- You can bridge or block the joists – Straight joists are strong joists. Joists that are leaning or twisting sideways are weaker. Placing something between the floor joists to keep them straight also keeps them strong. See the illustration below to see what bridging or blocking looks like.
- Add brick or concrete columns – Adding brick or concrete columns under the beams will add support to the floor joists. Adjustable brackets can be added to the top of each column in case of further settlement.
- Add adjustable jack posts under the beams – If the footings are strong enough, jack posts can support up to 24,000 pounds. In the case of settlement, the jack posts can be adjusted.
Signs You Might Need Floor Joist Repair
If you notice any of the following, you might need floor joist repair:
- The floor above the crawl space is sagging, uneven, or sloped.
- When you walk on the floor, it feels spongy.
- Furniture might even shake when you walk by.
- Wall cracks
- Windows and doors are no longer opening and closing correctly.
If you’re living in a home with a crawl space foundation and notice any of the above, immediately contact an experienced foundation repair contractor for an inspection.
Tips For Helping Prevent Foundation Damage
Believe it or not, most foundation problems are caused by poor drainage around the home. (As noted above, soggy soil caused by drainage problems can cause the crawl space support posts to sink into the ground and become non-vertical.) Therefore, you can go a long way toward preventing foundation problems by simply getting groundwater under control. Here are some ways to do that:
- Make sure your gutters aren’t full of dead leaves and other debris. Clogged gutters can cause water to flow over the side of your home and into the ground around the foundation.
- If necessary, regrade your yard so it slopes away from the foundation. This will prevent groundwater from draining toward the foundation.
- Use downspout extensions so that runoff is carried at least 4 feet away from your home before being released.
- Consider relocating any water-hungry vegetation planted next to your home.
- Install a drain tile system. This is the absolute best way to ensure there’s no excess moisture in the soil around your home’s foundation. For more information on how a drain tile system works, see How Does A Drain Tile System Work?
If you think your crawl space foundation might need floor joist repair, contact us today to schedule an evaluation and receive a repair estimate. We serve areas in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.