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Why Do My Floors Squeak and Creak?

Read Time: 4 minutes

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If you have floors in your home that squeak or creak when you walk on them, you probably find it pretty irritating. After all, it makes sneaking into the kitchen for a clandestine snack next to impossible. But those creaking floorboards may also be a symptom of a much larger, and potentially serious, problem.

Damage to the structural support system or the foundation of your home can cause floors to creak, squeak, sag or feel soft when you walk on them. If there is a bounce to the floor, you feel it’s not rock solid, or if you notice a slope or sag in your floors, you need to go under your home to determine where the problem originates.

Common Causes for Squeaky Floors

There are a number of potential causes for damage to your home’s foundation or support system. Wood rot is quite common in homes with crawl spaces, particularly if the humidity levels beneath your home have not been properly addressed. During the hot, humid summer months, moisture can build up in a crawl space, creating the perfect environment for mold and insects to wreak havoc on the wood beams and floor joists that hold up your home. If left untreated, wood rot can significantly weaken the wooden support system, leading to sagging and movement in the floor joists. This sagging can result in a creaking noise as you walk over the weakened wood flooring.

Rotting wooden floor joists
Wood rot in floor joists or support beams is a common cause for squeaking or moving floors. Photo: ©HydroHelp911
Foundation settling cracks in a brick wall
Settling or shifts in your home's foundation can cause cracks or bowing walls. Photo: ©HydroHelp911

Homes may also be victims of insufficient support because the floor joists are set too far apart, span too far or aren’t the correct depth. If your home was built to minimum code, the floor joists may not be sufficient to prevent your floor from moving. Older homes built before current code are also likely to have insufficient floor joists to hold the weight of modern furnishings and finishes such as granite countertops.

In some cases, your home’s foundation may actually be sinking. Soil compaction or erosion can lead to significant shifts in your foundation. While any shifting can cause foundation instability, the most severe problems occur when one side or corner of the house sinks more than the other side, leading to a torquing effect that can cause cracks or bowing walls.

Solutions for Repairing the Causes of Squeaking Floors

Fortunately, if you find that foundation problems are causing your squeaky floors, there are a number of solutions for repair. For wood rot caused by moisture or insects, joists and beams can be repaired or replaced. However, repairing the wood in your crawl space will only be a temporary fix unless the underlying cause is resolved.

Moisture in a crawl space can be controlled through encapsulation in conjunction with a dehumidifier system. There are also positive side effects of this solution, as crawl space encapsulation makes your home more energy efficient and increases the value of your home.

Full encapsulated crawl space with new insulation and a dehumidifier
A fully encapsulated crawl space will protect your house from damage causing moisture as well as make it more energy efficient. Photo: ©HydroHelp911
Crawl space floor jacks supporting floor joists
Floor jacks can be used to support beams and joists. Photo: ©HydroHelp911

To address squeaky floors caused by insufficient support system, the addition of beams or floor joists will alleviate sagging floors and create more stability. In some cases, jacks and girders, or a combination of the two, are used for support. Jacks are used to support the weight of the floor and are similar to the jacks used to lift a car. They can act as temporary support while beams are being repaired or replaced, or they can provide permanent support to a flooring system. Girders are also used for reinforcing the existing support system.

If the floor creaking is caused by the home’s foundation sinking or shifting, helical piers can be used to lift and stabilize the foundation. These steel shafts are screwed into the ground beside the foundation or footings and used to permanently support the structure.

To determine the cause of your squeaky floors and the extent of damage, if any, to your home’s foundation, it is important to consult with a professional who can perform a complete assessment of your home. A company that specializes in foundations or a structural engineer is the best place to start, in the event that the foundation is the problem. You don’t want to start from the top and work your way down. If you call a flooring company to assess your floor creaking, they may be able to stop some floor noises without addressing the underlying cause, which is actually damage to your foundation. If you start at the bottom and work your way up, it’s likely that you will fix not only your flooring issues, but also improve the overall health and value of your home.

Contact HydroHelp911 for Free Inspection

If the floors in your home squeak or creak and you are concerned there might be structural issues with your home, don’t hesitate to call HydroHelp911. Our team has years of experience inspecting and repairing foundation damage.

Schedule a free inspection today or give us a call at 704-741-9737. One of our experts will assess your foundation or crawl space, walk you through their findings and determine the best course of action to repair your home.

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