Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Is the house sinking?

We have noticed some disturbing signs around the house in the past year that indicate something is amiss with the foundation or support beams. When we bought the house 2 years ago, there were normal signs of a 100-year-old house "settling" but nothing that alarmed us. Still, this last year, we have found changes... shifts... cracks where there weren't cracks before.
The front door is hanging more cock-eyed.
The dog's ball rolls toward the dining room when we set it in place in the kitchen.
The newly painted ceiling in the master bedroom reveals new, wider cracks along the edges of the walls, where old ones were patched and fixed.
There are now noticeable humps in two places where the limestone foundation holds up the house... where no sinking has occurred.
The laser level that Sean is so fond of indicates that there has indeed been a more dramatic shift in floor levels... it seems that the center of the house is sinking, and at a more rapid pace than anything we expected.
We live in an area where there is a lot of peat, so it's possible that a post has actually sunk. It just happened to one of our new fence posts- we dug it down 4 ft deep (below the frost line here), and yet it has sunk about three inches since we set it in place last year.
The other possibility is that the post is rotting. Apparently, this would, in fact, be better, since the footing would theoretically still be sound and we would just have to replace the post. But to really know, we have to do some basement floor destruction and dig.
The carpenter of the family (not me!) assures me that we can fix this. And I believe him. He knows how to do it, and he has consulted with several other carpenters who have actually done it themselves. But it's still unsettling (pun intended) to think about. I've started my reading on house-jacking, but any success stories ya'll have would make me feel a lot better!


Sarah said...

Alright dear,

I can't give you a success story really, BUT I can tell you that you're not alone.

When we close, we actually have a contractor (family of mine) coming to the house that day to jack up the middle of our house and put in two support columns. Now, I'm in Wisconsin, but they're doing this for about $1500, although our bid from other companies was around $5k. All they do is bring in big jacks and then every day they turn it about a 1/4 turn until the house is eventually level. Then they put the supports in. It's not uncommon, especially in our house which is 95 years old. We also have those hideous cracks in the plaster and the second floor and third floors are pitched towards the center as it's definitely been sagging over the last decade.

Anyway, I hope that you're able to fix it relatively easy! From what I'm told, it's really not that difficult, but people just charge alot because it seems that way. Good luck; let me know what you find out, would you? :)

Have a great day!!!!



mscfrk1981 said...

Do not feel bad. I have had to have our whole center support beam replaced and jacked in my house. A ball would role across the floor to the center of the house because of this. Now it is better but it will never be "level". That cost us about a grand but it someone I knew also that has experience in old homes. We have cracks in the sheetrock walls and ceilings. The room I just repainted is cracking again in some spots. I got areas in my stair well that are cracking and will need to be replaced. Anyone else have good ideas let me know. My house is OLD and sits on a rock foundation. I know we have more work to do in the basement to help "level" things out.


Owner of a old home.