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Blog Inspections 101 Sloping Floors In Older Homes: Normal or Not?
Sloping Floors In Older Homes: Normal or Not?
Inspections 101
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It is not uncommon to find sloping floors in older homes. Even homes that were constructed only fifteen years ago may have a reasonable amount of deflection in the floors. The reaction to sloping floors varies greatly. Some consider them charming and part of the appeal of an older home, while others consider non-level floors to be problematic. One thing that everyone can agree on is that knowing the cause of the sloping is extremely important.
crack in crown moulding and wallCracks in walls can point to structural issuesFloors with minimal amounts of slope are most commonly caused by bending in the wood joints. In most cases this is entirely normal, as wood is an organic material and some amount of deflection is to be expected. Alternately, floors that have a pronounced amount of sloping could be an indicator of problems. A home inspection will allow you to learn whether or not the slope is normal. There are also a few things that you can consider prior to making an offer and reaching the home inspection phase.

The Age of the Home

Older homes typically have more slopes. Sloping floors are tricky in that they may be completely normal in aged homes, yet are not commonly normal in newer homes. Be particularly weary of extreme slopes in homes that are less than ten years old.

Direction of the Slope

When the floor dips in the middle, the most common cause is a normal amount of joist deflection. This typically does not compromise the structure and is rarely problematic. Slopes that run in only one direction can be cause for concern. These can be a sign of foundation issues or a sign of problems with a load-bearing wall.

Wall Cracks Near Slopes

Cracks in the walls or ceiling near sloping floor areas may or may not be normal. Newer cracks often indicate some type of problem, while older cracks that have not worsened with time are often an indicator of stability. The condition of ceramic tile is often an excellent indicator of the severity of problems. When cracks are present in tile that has been placed in older homes this can indicate an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed.

Joist Sizes and Spacing

A check of these is better left to a home inspector. However, if you wish to check to ensure that general guidelines have been met, you certainly are able to. The rule of thumb is that 2" x 8" joists should be spaced 16" apart in order to support each 12 foot space. Alternatively, 2" x 10" should also be no further than 16" apart in order to support each 16 foot space. The type of lumber that was used may also place a role. Should there be any lumber issues, your home inspector will discuss this with you.
What is most important is that the cause of sloping floors be determined using the trained eye of a professional home inspector. While it is certainly possible that the sloping can be normal, there is always the chance that it is not. Getting the answers you need prior to purchasing a home is the best course of action.

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Darin Redding
Written on Monday, 01 October 2012 20:34 by Darin Redding

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