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Why It’s Not Always Possible to Level Floors in Your Home

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Sloping or sagging floors in your home can be annoying and inconvenient. Chances are, if you call us out to take a look at these floors, you probably have the expectation that by repairing them, we will make them completely level. This isn’t always the case, however. While in an ideal world all of the flooring and corners in your home would be perfectly level, the reality is that there are a number of reasons why it may not be possible to level the floors in your home.

Every house has a unique framing structure when it is built. Framing techniques have evolved over the years, so a house that was built in 1960 will have significant differences in construction methods than a house that is built today. The way that a house is framed determines how it reacts to applied pressure.

When floors start sagging or sloping, something interesting happens. The wood structural support for your home is moving. As the movement happens over an extended period of time, the wood becomes very rigid in its new position, developing what is known as “memory.” It will resist any attempt to change its position or shape. When you try to lift a home that has been sloping or sagging for a long time, you are fighting against that memory.

So how important is it that a house is level? And what is considered level?

Even with today’s building practices, it is highly unlikely that every house will be perfectly and exactly level. In fact, structural engineers and other industry professionals use a formula to determine whether or not a house is level. That formula is length divided by 240.

For example, if you have a 12-foot area that is sagging, you would multiply 12 (feet) by 12 (inches in a foot) which equals 144. Divide 144 by 240, and that equals 0.6” or ⅝”. If the floor in this example were sloping or sagging more than ⅝’, it would be considered out of level. But anything less than the ⅝’ would be categorized as level.

So what if your floor is sagging or sloping more than the industry standard of ⅝’? Does that mean you should attempt to get that floor back to level? We like to use the saying, “Just because something can be lifted, doesn’t mean it should be.” We are capable of lifting almost any structure. Even for severely sloping floors, we can use more or bigger jacks, bigger pumps or equipment. But lifting a structure with memory without careful planning can lead to unintended consequences. Granite countertops, marble fireplace hearths, sheetrock, cabinets and other components inside your home may crack or be damaged by lifting a floor back to level. It may be sufficient to lift the floor only slightly, to lessen the slope or sag, without technically making it level. Reinforcing the floor so that it doesn’t continue to sag is the most important aspect.

Consulting with a qualified, experienced company when it comes to leveling floors is crucial. These professionals know how to consider the age of the home, the framing structure, and the concept of memory when it comes to crafting a plan to improve the level of your floors.

If you are in need of a licensed, insured company that specializes in foundation repair, including floor leveling in the Charlotte area, contact us at HydroHelp911 and let our experienced team guide you through the process.

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