Have you noticed that your floor is uneven? Do you notice certain floorboards bouncing when you walk over them? If so, it’s possible that your floor joists are failing.
Your crawl space is a part of your foundation, so if it’s failing somewhere, it needs to be repaired with the best solutions around such as IntelliJack ™ offered by AFS.
IntelliJack™ is a support system that is meant to stabilize floor joists and even out sagging floors. It’s made of non-corrosive galvanized steel and can support over 60,000 pounds. Our support system can be installed in a single day and can be adjusted as needed to accommodate potential settling. IntelliJack™ has many advantages, such as:
- Year-round installation
- Quick installation
- Can even out sinking floors
- Does not rely on unstable soil
- Efficiency does not lessen after exposure to water
Why Do Floor Joists Experience Failure?
If you aren’t familiar with how floor joist failure occurs, we don’t blame you. If you don’t spend time in your crawl space (which most people don’t), you most likely don’t understand how certain elements interact with the floor joists and influence their strength and infrastructure.
All the problems floor joists experience is due to not having proper waterproofing methods for your crawl space. Water (and to an extent, humidity) is a damaging element that should not be allowed to pool up under a home. As much as others like to say how normal crawl space water is, it’s not something that should be overlooked. It may be normal, but it does not mean good things for your floor joists. Here are some of the problem signs:
When a piece of wood gets infected with mold that damages its structure, it’s called wood rot. Mold is a microorganism that needs organic material to survive. Wood is made up of starches and sugar that provide plenty of nutrients for mold to thrive.
The problem is that, as mold eats away at the wood, it grows weaker. If your floor joist is rotting, it will have a harder time supporting your floor while in its debilitated state.
Wood rot can either cause the wood to soften up or cause it to break down and shrink. Once a wooden joist has been significantly impacted by wood rot, it can no longer get back the strength it once had.
Termites are insects that eat away at the wood. The obvious signs of termites in your crawl space are discarded wings, mud tubes, and damage to the wooden joist itself. Your wooden joist will begin to blister as termites eat through it, so inspect your crawl space wood properly so that you don’t miss any early signs.
Termites in your crawl space don’t have to be a definite thing. If you want to protect your crawl space wood from insects, you can encapsulate the space with a vapor barrier. This ensures that nothing gets in or out of the crawl space.
Wood is highly absorbent and can expand when saturated with water. As it expands, it loses a lot of its strength as it warps to accommodate the moisture particles. Once all the water in the wood dries up, the joist cannot go back to the shape or strength it was before. Wood may be a flexible material capable of bending under pressure, but a heavy load on a wooden joist does not change it on a cellular level as water does.
Standing water and crawl space flooding are the cause of waterlogged joists. The longer the wood is exposed to water, the more damage it will experience over time. There comes a point where the wood is too damaged to be repaired, so waterproofing your basement can save you money on replacement costs.
Sometimes, floors sag simply because they cannot handle the weight of whatever furniture or machinery you’ve placed on them. If the joist is not properly supported or reinforced to handle the extra weight, it will bend enough to cause a sinking floor.
Your foundation relies on an even layer of soil to stay upright. If that soil erodes, it will leave a gap underneath your foundation. When your house begins to sink into the gap left behind by the soil, this is known as foundation settling.
Foundation settling impacts your floor joists because the house is tilting sideways. This creates uneven pressure distribution across the house, and your joists can no longer support the floor like they could when the entire house was stable.
Crawl space waterproofing solutions don’t just focus on keeping the interior of the crawl space clear of water. Many solutions, like our SafeDri™ sump pump system, also drain the moisture in the surrounding soil. This prevents settling and keeps your floor stable.
How IntelliJack™ Is Installed
The installation process for IntelliJack™ is incredibly easy and non-invasive. Complete installation only takes a day, and it can be done under any weather conditions. IntelliJack™ is portable and small enough that it can be installed in tight spaces. No matter what kind of situation your crawl space is in, your joists can be supported. Here’s what the installation process looks like:
Before anything, contractors will thoroughly assess your crawl space to see which joists need to be replaced and which ones just need reinforcement. They will also mark down all the places where the jacks need to be installed. Where the jacks will be installed is decided based on your specific situation and the condition of your crawl space. Once that’s done, they can begin excavation.
A two-foot hole is excavated in all the places that were previously marked down. The holes are filled with engineering fill, which is a type of soil that has no clay in it or any organic material. This makes engineering feel tougher and less likely to erode. The base of the support jack is placed in the hole once it has been properly filled, and the contractors begin cutting the columns of the post.
The area is measured and the columns are cut so that the support posts fit perfectly in your crawl space. The shafts are attached to their base and adjusted so that they can hold up the support joist. If your floor is sagging, the jack can provide enough support to lift the joist so that the floor is even again.
What makes IntelliJack™ such a reliable support system is that it does not rely on soft soils to support the joist. Its footing is deep underground to combat erosion and it’s surrounded by competent soils that will not encourage shifting at all.
After IntelliJack™ has been installed, the work should not end there. If your floor joists were experiencing some structural issues, it was for a reason. Talk to your local foundation experts to see what your options are in terms of waterproofing your basement. Water is capable of destroying your crawl space in just a few short years. The support jacks you have installed may be durable enough to withstand being in a wet basement, but the rest of your wood cannot.
IntelliJack™ vs. Sistering Floor Joists
If you ask around, you might hear others say that sistering your floor joist is a good repair method. Sistering a joist simply refers to attaching a healthy wooden beam to the damaged one to provide stability.
Sistering a floor joist can be used as a short-term solution as you wait for joist support post installations. The reason sistering the joists isn’t considered to be a good thing long-term is because there is a chance that the supporting wood will also fail. Unless you do something about the humidity problem, that supporting joist can get infected with mold, become waterlogged, or simply break from too much pressure.
With IntelliJack,™ you never have to worry about mold or deterioration, since its galvanized coating prevents it from corrosion. Not to mention, support jacks can support more weight than a beam of wood, so you never have to worry about overbearing your floor joists if they are supported by IntelliJack.™
What Are the Signs of Crawl Space Floor Joist Failure?
Failing floor joists are a common occurrence in homes with crawl spaces. Most homeowners don’t keep a close enough eye on that part of their home to detect problems. Floor joist failure is something that can be spotted early, long before your floor begins to sag, but if you don’t know what to look for, the problem signs will pass you by.
A bouncy floor is one that dips when you put weight on it but evens itself out when you don’t. Bouncy floors usually indicate early signs of wood rot that could be making your joists softer.
An indentation on your floor indicates that there is a major problem with the floor joist. It’s one thing for the floor to sag when you step on it and then bounce right back, but it’s another thing completely for the floor to have a perpetual dip in one spot in your house.
Wood is flexible, so it should bounce right back after bearing a lot of weight provided that it still has the strength to do so. When your floor begins to sag, it indicates that the floor joist has lost its strength somehow. Another reason could be because the joist is bowing so much that it’s beyond the point of evening itself out.
A floor that isn’t level indicates foundation settling. As the house begins to tilt to the side as it sinks, the joists are no longer parallel to each other. This causes uneven floors that may not feel bouncy or saggy but look like something is wrong.
Check your basement for any signs of wood rot. Joists affected by wood rot will be discolored and might even have some red spores on the surface. Be incredibly careful when encountering mold in your crawl space, as it can compromise your health.
Crawl Space Flooding
A good sign that your floor is uneven thanks to your joists in crawl space water. Water in a crawl space may be a common experience, but it does not mean that it’s a good thing. If water is getting into your crawl space, it is affecting your floor joists, even if you cannot see or feel the floor sag just yet.
IntelliJack Crawl Space Supports
Part of the reason we prefer crawl space support posts like IntelliJack™ is because of how easy installation is. The process is so simple and straightforward that many homeowners think they can do it themselves.
DIY projects can be fun if they are for small repairs around the home. Your damaged floor joist is not a small project you can experiment on. It’s a part of your foundation, which is the most important part of your home. Because of the skills it takes to install support posts, as well as the dangers that come with the job, you should contact a professional.
The Dangers of DIY
DIY joist repairs are dangerous for two reasons: the mold and the stability of the crawl space. If your wooden joist is rotting, exposing yourself to that mold for hours as you attempt to repair the joist can lead to some health issues. Mold irritates the skin, eyes, and throat. The irritation gets worse if you have a weak immune system or any previous respiratory conditions. If you have a ventilated crawl space, chances are you’re already breathing in the mildew coming from your crawl space, so this added exposure will only accelerate your problems.
A crawl space with damaged floor joists is a crawl space with structural stability problems. Entering a crawl space that has the potential to collapse can be extremely dangerous. Not to mention, much of your home’s electric wiring is in there.
Why You Need Professionals
Professional joist support is needed if you want a job well done. With DIY repairs, there’s always the risk that you may have missed a step and finished an ineffective repair job. You could end up having to repair your crawl space floor joists a second time because of it.
For example, when installing IntelliJack,™ contractors measure where each jack is supposed to go. There is no set measurement that dictates how far apart each jack is supposed to be from each other because that is determined by the special conditions of each crawl space. If you don’t know where to place them, you’ll have structural problems in the future.
Waterproofing your crawl space is one of the best investments you can make for your property. It prevents so many different structural problems you would have had to deal with eventually. IntelliJack™ is not a waterproofing solution, it’s a foundation repair solution. It’s meant to give the base of your home additional support so that no problems come about if there are any structural weaknesses.
At AFS, we offer different foundation repair and waterproofing solutions for your specific needs, such as:
Crawl Space Sump Pump
Our SafeDri™ crawl space sump pump can automatically get rid of all the standing water in your crawl space. If you live in Birmingham, Alabama, or Knoxville, Tennessee, you’ll know how much it rains, especially during storm season. All that rain can end up flooding your basement and ruining the concrete and wood in there.
Getting standing water out of crawl spaces is a lot harder than getting them out of basements because crawl spaces are a lot smaller. Sump pumps take care of this problem for you by collecting water and pumping out and away from the basement. SafeDri™ is also able to collect the water from the surrounding soil, so it helps to slow down foundation settling.
Our vapor barrier, CrawlSeal®, is a sheet that is used to encapsulate a basement so that it’s completely sealed off. It’s made of thick, durable polyethylene that is waterproof and has antimicrobial properties. It can also prevent water vapor from seeping through the concrete and into the crawl space. Because of the material it’s made of, CrawlSeal® can endure decades of moisture exposure without ever breaking down.
CrawlSeal® increases the crawl space’s energy efficiency by combating moisture and providing the area with some cover from the elements. The sheets are mechanically applied to the walls of the crawl space so that they never come off, unlike other vapor barriers that rely on glue-like materials that can lose their potency with water.
One of the many problems presented in other kinds of joist support methods is settling. Just like your home, support piers rely on an even layer of soil to stay stable. This stability is what gives it the strength to aid the floor joist and support your floor. However, soil can be unreliable which means that it is possible for your support jack to settle.
How IntelliJack™ Combats Settling
The reason a hole is excavated and filled with engineering fill is so that the jack can have a good enough foundation to stay stable. Clay soils like the ones found in Knoxville, Tennessee shrink and expand too easily to provide solid support. Sandy soils, on the other hand, are too shifty. Therefore, a hole is excavated and packed with engineering filling, which is a mix of sturdy soils that are less likely to erode.
If the jack does somehow see settling, this is no problem either. IntelliJack™ can be adjusted so that it accommodates the change. Many other jack support methods cannot be adjusted, meaning that the homeowners had to deal with sagging floors after the joist was repaired.
How To Prevent Settling
While it is possible for a support jack to settle, this is completely preventable if you know how to take care of your crawl space. The key to slowing down soil erosion is to simply limit the amount of water that encounters the soil. This means that waterproofing your crawl space is your best bet.
Something else you should consider is the amount of weight you’re placing in a particular spot in your home. Too much weight can shift the soil around, so try to disperse the heaviest objects throughout your home so that the weight is evenly distributed.
Call AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists for Crawl Space Floor Joist Repair
Since 2000, AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists has been repairing homes for the residents of Mobile, Birmingham, and Huntsville, Alabama, and Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, Tennessee. As longtime professionals in the industry, there isn’t a job too big for us to handle.
If you are interested in IntelliJack™ for your crawl space, give us a call or fill out our online contact form so we can schedule a free inspection with one of our knowledgeable field experts. You will be given a quote and a complete rundown of everything you need to stabilize your floor.