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Old farm house floors sagging at the edges


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03-18-14, 07:03 AM   #1  
Old farm house floors sagging at the edges

Hello, I have a 85 yr old farm house and the hardwood floors are sagging/sloping around the edges as much as 2 or 3 inches, in two rooms of the house. My wife want to put in new hardwood flooring over the old. I don't want to build up that much for level floors. There is no crawl space access. Now she says just pull up the existing floors and sister new joists to the old ones and lay plywood subfloor over the new level joists that are sistered to the old, and install the new hardwood floor. This would also allow me to put a vapor barrier down under the new floor.


We have had the foundation checked and since we have added gutters and raised the grade around the foundation. the foundation guy doesn't recommend doing anything else at this time.

Any suggestions.

 
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03-18-14, 07:46 AM   #2  
It all depends on money and how big a job you want.

Any chance your house was once a log cabin?

Some old houses were built extremely low to the ground. So low there is no room to crawl under the floor. It's not allowed in modern construction but houses like that do exist. In that situation I remove the floor to gain access to the structure underneath. Once you have the floor removed you will be able to see why your floor is sagging. Since it's high in the middle and low around the edge I assume the house sunk over the years and there is a beam or foundation piers (possibly just stacked rocks) in the center that did not sink.

 
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03-18-14, 10:35 AM   #3  
Yes, It was a log cabin at one time. The foundation guy says that is stable at this point. If it is stable, I don't really want to try jacking it up. This place is just a weekend place.

If I were to pull the floor up and every thing is in decent shape, would it be possible to sister some joist to the existing ones a ( I don't know, maybe notch them at the edges so that I can level floor and still get them the full span).

I really just want to level the joists enough to put down a new level floor (or should I say that's what my wife wants), not necessarily make it a perfect repair and jack up an old house and spend $20 or 30 grand making it perfect.

 
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03-18-14, 10:49 AM   #4  
Removing all the old flooring down to the joist is the only right way to do this.
No way unless you hired this out and lifted the whole house and build a new foundation should it cost $30,000.
Any old house I've ever worked on had failing piers, over spanned and undersized joist, not enough support in the middle of the spans.
Plus there's always the very real chance of cracked joist, fungus, insect damage.
No way to know without opening it up to see.

 
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03-18-14, 10:49 AM   #5  
Repairs are much easier and go surprisingly fast once the floor is up and you have easy access. You may find that you can take some off the center pier to lower the beam that I'm guessing is under there. Then you can sister the joists if needed. You may find it easier to simply remove the old joists since they've probably taken a permanent bow and replace with new.

When the floor is up it would also be a good time to put down sheet plastic over the dirt to help control moisture under the floor. You could also run wires to install additional outlets since most old places never have enough. And while you're at it having the area termite treated would be a good idea since it might not be seen for another 80 years.

 
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03-19-14, 06:13 AM   #6  
Am I opening a can of worms left best alone.

 
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03-19-14, 06:31 AM   #7  
Burying your head in the sand is not going to make this go away.
A 2" drop is major and needs to be addressed.

 
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03-19-14, 08:01 AM   #8  
If I were to sister new joists to the existing , essentially using the new joists as defector furring strips to level the floor. I could pour some concrete pads and add some jacks under the joists to support the added weight. Then come back with some new 3/4 T&G subfloor and install new hardwood flooring over this.

Would this work or am I crazy.

Kelly

 
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03-19-14, 08:13 AM   #9  
Yes, it is a can of worms. You will be digging into an old building that you know has structural problems.

Worst I think would be to space, furr and do something hoakey to apply new floors over the old sagging one. I would either live with the current roller coaster floor or cut it open and fix it. Unfortunately you don't know what kind of job you'll be in for until you'r committed. It could be a relatively straightforward repair or you may be left scratching your head wondering if you should tear the whole house down.

 
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03-20-14, 12:37 PM   #10  
If as my foundation guy says "that it is stable", what might be a way in order level the joists without jacking up the house. The sloping/sagging floors do this going to the edges of the floors. Since this has happened over many decades and I am now stable I don't really want to mess with the actual foundation. Is there anyway to remove the existing floors, leaving only the joist that would be bowed up in the center of the room and extending back to the center of the house and level the floor and attach new plywood subfloor and new hardwood flooring over this.

 
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03-20-14, 12:41 PM   #11  
A lot depends on how the house is constructed. The floor can be reframed to a level state but I'm not sure you can formulate a plan until you either pull up the existing floor or get under it well enough to see what's there.


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03-21-14, 06:24 AM   #12  
I was able to get the old flooring up last night. It is as I had hoped/expected. The original foundation had settle around the perimeter approx. 2". The original joists are actually in pretty good shape. They are bowed as it moves to the perimeter edges, but other than that it looks pretty good. I am afraid that after decades these full thickness oak 2 x's are going to stay bowed. At this point I was thinking about putting down a few concrete piers, then sistering some new 2x's to the old joist and making them run out to the foundation, raising them at the outer walls approx. 2"s thus making the joists level. Then adding additional support by putting a few beams under the joists and adding jacks under them supported by the new piers.

Then laying down some subfloor and new hardwood over that.

Any thoughts or suggestions.

 
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03-21-14, 08:44 AM   #13  
I think the big question is the house finished sinking/settling? One option might be to do a bit of a log home trick and not really attach the floor to the walls. Install concrete piers to support floor beams & joists and don't connect the ends to the walls. You can butt up to the walls for stability but don't attach the two. Then if the house settles the walls can slide down past the floor and the floor remains flat and level. If there is settling you might have to make new thresholds into the room but at least you won't have to rip up the floor again.

I agree about not using the old joists. You'll probably never get the bow out of them but I'm sure a wood worker would love them.

 
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