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Floor Joist Repair

Floor joist problems are more common than you might think. What can you do to maintain the health of your home’s floor joists?

Production crew measuring IntelliJack in crawlspace.

Floor Joist Repair Solutions for Your Home

Floor joists are an important part of your home’s structure. They help maintain your home’s foundation and the structure of your home as a whole, ensuring it can handle the weight on top of it. However, if you experience issues with your floor joists, you’re going to end up with problems in the future as well. Here’s what you need to know about floor joist issues, including how you can prevent these problems.

Why Does Floor Joist Failure Occur?

Floor joist failure can occur for many different reasons. However, there are a few reasons that tend to crop up more frequently. 

  • Not Enough Support

One common reason for floor joist failure is because there just isn’t enough support underneath the floor joist to maintain whatever’s on top of it. This can go along with some of the other reasons, but it can also exist all by itself; if you’re having issues with floor joist failures, it could just be that there’s not enough support for the floor.

This problem most commonly crops up when you’ve added something with a lot of weight onto an area that doesn’t have very much support. For example, if you resurface your kitchen counters and add a lot of marble, that also adds a lot of weight. It can cause your counters to slope downward if you’re not careful, which means it’s important to think about the support available underneath any addition you do. 

  • Mold, Mildew, and Wood Rot

If your floor joists have fungal growths on them, including mold, mildew, and wood rot, they’re going to start to deteriorate. What happens when you have these fungal growths is that they eat away at the organic material of the wood floor joists. That means the floor joists deteriorate slowly but surely, leaving them at risk of collapsing under the weight of the floor.

These fungal growths typically start with lots of moisture; mold and mildew often need a relative humidity of 70% or higher to thrive. That means if you’re able to remove the moisture from your crawl space, you’ll be more likely to avoid the fungal growths that can cause mold, mildew, and wood rot to eat away at your floor joists. 

  • Waterlogged Wood

Even if you don’t end up with mold, mildew, or wood rot in your crawl space, standing water is still a significant problem. When water gets inside wood, it becomes waterlogged. That significantly lowers the strength of the wood, especially if it’s waterlogged for a very long time. The standing water itself can create serious problems.

Standing water should be something you tackle as soon as possible. If you leave standing water for too long, you can end up with waterlogged wood, which can crumble under its weight. This is one of the reasons a sump pump can be extremely beneficial in your crawl space; it can help you get rid of this water early on.

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What Are the Warning Signs of Floor Joist Failure?

The good news is that there are many warning signs of floor joist failure that you can notice before anything significant happens. Here are a few of those warning signs. 

  • Sinking Floors

Are your floors sinking into the ground? Specifically, you want to look at the edges of your floors where they align with other floors. The floors should have an even connection. If they’re not aligned, there’s a problem, and it’s probably with the floor joists or the foundation underneath them.

  • Uneven Floors

Uneven floors are some of the most classic examples of floor joist failure. If your floors are uneven, it means that one side of the joists is sinking more rapidly than the other side. This could easily be because one of the floor joists has started to fail, causing the floor to slope toward one side.

  • Bouncy Floors

If you have bouncy floors, which are floors that seem like they sag slightly under your weight, you might have wood rot. This is one of the most prominent signs of wood rot. Wood rot makes the wood more flexible, which means you’re less likely to have a floor that stays up under its weight. However, you can’t just leave it like this, because eventually, you’ll end up with a floor joist that finally cracks.

  • High Indoor Humidity

Floor joist failure often occurs because of excess moisture in your crawl space; mold and mildew, for example, typically don’t grow until about 70% humidity. That moisture can happen because of standing water or because of a variety of other reasons. However, the humidity often goes up through the crawl space and into the rest of the home, causing high levels of humidity throughout. 

  • Flooding in the Crawl Space

Of course, most homeowners know that flooding in their crawl space is a generalized problem. However, you might not know exactly why. When you have flooding problems, you’re going to have standing water, high indoor humidity, and much more, all of which can create other types of floor joist failure. It’s important that you fix crawl space flooding as soon as possible to avoid these problems.

  • Unencapsulated Crawl Space

If you have an unencapsulated crawl space, you’re going to end up with crawl space problems as a whole. There are all sorts of problems that an unencapsulated crawl space can create, but one of them is floor joist failure. Because of the moisture that’s always going to rise from an unencapsulated crawl space, you’re just never going to be able to have a totally dry crawl space.

FAQs About Floor Joist Repair

Some homeowners don’t quite know whether they’ll be able to fix their floor joists for good. Especially if you’ve dealt with floor joist problems in the past, you might not know that you can fix your floor joists permanently.

  • Temporary Fixes That Require Reapplication

There are plenty of temporary fixes out there, from sistering joints to other methods of boosting the strength of a joist that only last for a short time. Although this is an option you may have heard about before, it’s far from the best one. Reapplication means wasting your money and time over and over again to fix the same problem.

The problem with most temporary solutions is that they do not address the underlying causes of damage and weakness. Instead, they target symptoms like sagging, cracking, and uneven flooring. This provides short-term relief, but as the pressures and factors which caused the original damage go to work, the problem will recur. 

  • Long-Term Solutions That Fix the Underlying Problems

A long-term solution requires that you understand and address the underlying problems causing floor joist concerns. Groundworks makes it much easier for you to manage your floor joist problems by providing long-term solutions that will fix the underlying problems. No matter which ones you choose, you know you’ll get a lasting fix.

This is because we investigate and address the actual causes of damage to your flooring and joists before we focus on repairing the damage and symptoms. This means that you can rest easy in the knowledge that you will have a full and proper solution the first time you call for help. 

As you start to look for potential answers to your floor joist concerns, you might notice that some homeowners recommend sistering the joist. You might wonder whether sistering a floor joist is enough, and the fact is that it’s certainly not. It’s a short-term solution that’s not going to be enough.

  • The Process of Sistering

Sistering a floor joist is what happens when you add more material into the floor joist to support and bolster it, essentially increasing its load-bearing capacity (or at least that’s the idea). Doing so will push your floor joist back up, typically to its original height. There are wedge-shaped pieces of material that you may be able to use for sistering available in most hardware stores and many professionals can install them for you.

Sistering may not be a permanent solution, but it is a great way to stabilize a joist that has been damaged until someone can take a look at it properly. This process will let you go about your day with a little bit of security, knowing that your floor isn’t going to suddenly collapse while you wait for a more permanent solution. This is really where the benefits end and sistering is not a true solution. 

  • Boost for a Short Time

If you sister your floor joist right, you can push it up and make it so that the symptoms of floor joist failure are much less prominent. However, this isn’t a permanent solution by any means. Sistering your floor joist will only boost it for a short time. Eventually, it will almost certainly sink again, rendering your fix completely useless and doubling or tripling your overall costs as you redo the work over and over.

Many homeowners will sister damaged joists two or three times because it is cheaper and more convenient than permanent solutions like crawl space jacks. However, the costs of continually investing in short-term fixes can quickly mount up to be two or three times more costly than a permanent fix would have been. 

  • Constant Raising and Lowering

Sistering your floor joist may even be damaging to your floors as a whole due to repeated movements and changes to strain and position. The constant raising and lowering of the floor can end up placing more strain on the floors and the floor joist. This can lead to true fixes being less effective in the future because the overall integrity of the structure as a whole will have been weakened by the fluctuations that a floor experiences as temporary fixes degrade and are reapplied.

As such it is in your best interest to look for a long-term solution that addresses the underlying issues as early as possible. This will not only save you money on floor joist repairs in the long term, but it could save you a lot of time, money, and hassle around structural repairs and even full flooring replacements as a result of compounded damage.

Floor joist problems can be a concern no matter what symptoms you are or aren’t noticing. Plus, it’s common for floor joist problems to indicate themselves through symptoms that don’t seem like symptoms to the average individual. So, in short, yes you could have floor joist issues without even knowing it.

  • Subtle Symptoms

There are some very subtle signs of floor joist damage that you could easily miss if you’re not very knowledgeable about the issue. If you think that you’re having floor joist problems, you might not notice much except for a very slight slant or a musty smell in your crawl space that slowly creeps into your home at large. These are important things to pay attention to. Just because the symptoms seem mild to you doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re truly mild.

Unevenness of any kind, for example, is very symptomatic of damage to your joists or even to your property’s foundation. For example, if the tilt is pretty consistent from one side of the room to the other, you may be dealing with foundation damage, but if there are inconsistent pockets or dips, damaged joists likely are to blame. 

  • Problems Regardless of Symptom Severity

Even if the symptoms you’re seeing are relatively mild, that doesn’t mean you can ignore the problems they’re indicating. Floor joist concerns are very serious regardless of the severity of the symptoms you’re experiencing. Even the smallest signs of damage could be hiding a whopper of a problem; floor joists can go from cracked to collapsed in frighteningly short amounts of time.

As such, if you see dips in your floor, or you feel that certain sections are slightly springier or bouncier than they should be, you should investigate immediately. If you can enter your crawl space, you should do so; if you are not able to, or if you are not confident, you should call an expert. Getting a professional opinion on the state of your home and the best solutions is crucial.

  • Getting an Expert’s Opinion

It’s always a good idea to get an expert crawl space inspector into your home every year for a maintenance appointment. Even if you don’t notice certain symptoms and problems, a crawl space repair expert will inspect the floor joists directly, making it easier to identify whether some of them have problems. By catching small signs of damage, or warning signs of the onset of damage, an expert will be able to formulate a response quickly.

This will, in turn, lead to a better, quicker solution for you. Of course, if you notice damage or troubling signs of damage in your home between appointments, you should not hesitate to contact a professional. This will ensure that your home gets the help and treatment that it needs before the damage can spiral out of control.

You don’t ever want to attempt to repair floor joists as a DIY project. Floor joists are what hold your home up; if you tackle it as a DIY enthusiast, you’re probably going to make some mistakes. Those mistakes can be deadly to your home, causing huge problems that can cost thousands of dollars to fix. 

  • Mistakes as a DIY Enthusiast

You don’t want to make DIY mistakes with your floor joists. At best, you’ll end up with a fix that only lasts for a few weeks. At worst, you could end up making your floor collapse. A DIY fix is almost invariably going to cost more than an expert fix and it’ll be much less effective. This is the case for several reasons, but it mostly has to do with skills, experience, and the tools available to you.

Any kind of structural repair is risky for an amateur because the costs of making a mistake can be incredibly high. Making a mistake when repairing your floor joists could be outright dangerous if you do not have the experience and training to undertake the work. Furthermore, some tools are just not available to non-professionals through hardware stores. Undertaking any kind of work without the right tools is a guaranteed path to disaster. 

  • Passing the Job to an Expert

These reasons are exactly why it’s best to pass your floor joist repairs to an expert from Groundworks who has important knowledge about the process. With a Groundworks expert on the job, you’ll be much more likely to end up with a fix that works in the long run and addresses the needs of your property. Our team is highly trained, skilled, and experienced. What’s more, we ensure that our technicians take a customer-centric approach to every job.

This means that you benefit not only from a quicker, cleaner, and more cost-effective process but that you will feel informed and in control throughout. You can kick back and rest easy while we complete floor joist repairs that will stand the test of time. Better still you will get these quality and cost-effective repairs with no danger of foul-ups.

Do More for Your Floor Joists with an Expert’s Help

Your floor joists should be as healthy as possible if you want to make sure they’re enough to maintain the incredible weight of your home and foot traffic all day. If you need to maintain your home’s floor joists, especially if they’re already having problems, it’s important to consider their health from an expert’s point of view.

An expert from your area can make it easier for you to maintain your home’s floor joists. Floor joists aren’t always an easy thing to handle, but it’s easier if you have expert help. We offer free consultation appointments with no obligation to all homeowners in our service area.

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