A creaking floor can have many causes which may include foundation issues. Perhaps you are thinking that your house is new and shouldn’t have creaky floors, so the problem must be the foundation. However, creaking floors aren’t limited to old houses and can develop in homes of any age for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the more common reasons:
Changes In Air Moisture
Wood is porous and expands and contracts with changes in humidity. Changes in the weather, and air conditioner cycling make this expansion and contraction process occur on a regular basis. With time, fasteners in the flooring weaken and cause a squeaky floor.
Construction that meets the bare minimum safety codes results in flooring that may be quiet at first but becomes noisy after a while. Cheap materials, insufficient fasteners, and poor workmanship contribute to the problem.
The Type Of Foundation
A floor built on joists atop a pier and beam foundation tends to have more “give” than one built on a slab foundation. This “give” is subtle (and sometimes less so) but is real. This movement encourages floor boards to rub and fasteners to loosen which causes creaking. The upper floors of a house built on any foundation type can also experience this. If the flooring on a pier and beam foundation has some sagging, then creaking can be pronounced.
Whether or not foundation problems are common, depends on the region where you live. Areas with expansive clay soil tend to have more foundation issues than areas with stable soils. If your foundation is built on clay soil then you can’t rule it out as a cause for your squeaking floors. However, you will have to look for additional signs to know if the creaking floor in your house is due to your foundation:
- Floors on a pier and beam foundation that shake while walking on them.
- Soft spots. These often indicate rotting lumber beneath the flooring.
- Uneven and sloping floors. These are yet another sign of foundation issues. Separation between the floor and wall is one way of spotting a sunken floor.
- Cracks in tiling. Tiles are rigid and will crack when the floor beneath it moves.
- Cracks in brickwork. Large shifts in the foundation stresses brickwork and causes it to crack along the mortar which produces large stair-step cracks.
- Cracks in the corners of doors and windows. These corners are where stress concentrates the most which is why cracks often appear there.
- Cracks where the ceiling and wall meet.
- Cracked sheet rock and wrinkled wall paper. Sheet rock has little flex and is a weak material. This means it will crack before other materials when your home is stressed. When a wall warps, its wall paper covering will wrinkle.
- Sticking windows and doors. Warped window and door frames make the windows and doors difficult to move.
- Bulging walls or foundation. Bulging foundation walls can be spotted by looking along its length. They should appear straight and vertical. Use a level to spot leaning walls.
- Offset cracks. An offset crack has one lip or edge that sticks further out than the other. Cracks form after a material yields to stress. An offset crack means there’s been additional movement.
- Creaking floors that get progressively worse. Having some loose fasteners in the flooring is one thing, but a home that is continually shifting and warping from a foundation problem will progressively distort the floors and worsen their creakiness. They will get louder and you may start to feel movement under your feet when walking.
If your home exhibits any of these symptoms or if the creaky floors are a concern and you require peace of mind, contact us at Perma-Pier Foundation Repair for a free evaluation.