Steps To Identify Floor Problems

This portion of home repair floors will involve 2 parts,  One being the structure or foundation of the house and particularly the floor structure itself, the other being the actual surfaces that you see and walk on, carpet, tile, wood, vinyl, or whatever surface you have.

Typically, there is going to be more floor problems with raised foundation homes as opposed to a poured concrete slab.  This is especially true in older homes as it was the norm for a long time and still is a preferred method in many parts of the country even now.

As with most wood building materials, they are not always perfect, with knots and long ways splits, these imperfections most likely did not show up at the time of construction, or the builder put a not so good joist next to a better one, or just didn’t care.  These imperfections  show up later after the wood has dried out over the years.  I have seen and fixed a lot of them.

If the house was put together well,  it should not be to much of a problem, but invariably you see a sag because of a split in a knot or a long split along the length of  a floor joist, (or roof rafters too).  Many older homes also were made with to much span with not enough posts or piers resulting in long sag where one has to shim the front of a dresser against a wall to make it level!

Although you may see deficiencies in old lumber, the two most  common floor problems (and house in general)  are water intrusion and insect infestation,  specifically termites.  Water is your home’s worse enemy, even with insect problems, the insects/ termites still need a moisture source to do their destruction,  so eliminating water problems is priority.  All this translates into the upper living area which is going to affect what is installed.  I really don’t expect most people to go underneath to do these repairs, but I included this so you would have a better picture of what’s going on that may affect the floor above.

Spongy floor, creaking floor, all the comforting sounds of an older home, while many get used to these noises and is part of the character of an old house, they also can be something that needs attention.

A spongy, mushy floor around the toilet is not a good sign, a simple test will determine if the floor under the toilet is bad.  Straddle the toilet facing the tank and rock left and right, the toilet should not move if it is OK. You can also do the same thing by pushing gently on the tank and bowl at the same time left to right, it should not move either.  Lastly look close at the base of the toilet to see if there is discoloration in the flooring surface and around the perimeter of the base.  If it is a tile floor, you may not see anything except telltale signs of seepage at the base perimeter.  A toilet not set correctly can seep slowly for a long time and not give any indication until the floor gets mushy.

At this point, if there is a problem, the toilet needs to be removed and maybe part of the floor around the toilet flange so you can see what is going on.  Most likely the damaged area will have to be cut out with a circular saw to the floor joists and a new piece of plywood or wood boards of proper thickness will have to be put in.  You will also be buying new flooring for the whole bathroom  so it all matches when done.

In changing any floor surface in any part of the house, this is the time to take care of squeaks and creaks, there may be edges of boards or plywood that is not fastened well, this is the time to do that, say when the old carpet comes out and you are going to put in a wood floor of some type.  You may already know where the squeaks are and know where to step late at night to go around it.  With a drill and 2″ drywall or deck screws, turn down the TV or radio,  send the kids outside so the room is quiet, and locate the noisy parts and drive the screws in about 6′” apart along the length of the joist until no more noise.