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Re: Out of Plumb Residence need help on fix.

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Water penetrating to bearing soil under the foundation is nearly always the
cause of the kind of condition you describe.  Look for other sources of
water such as excessive garden irrigation adjacent to the house, a roof
drain system that is no longer functioning the way it was intended (for
example, downspouts that feed into underground drain lines that are clogged,
removed or broken downspouts, a roof gutter system that was removed instead
of repairing it), yard grades that have changed due to erosion or settlement
so that they allow storm water to flow toward the house instead of away,
dripping hosebibs, cracked paving adjacent to the house that intercepts and
directs water under the paving.

I assume that it is a wood framed floor -- not a slab on grade.  The floor
may be lifted by jacking, and resupported.  If the house has been bolted to
its foundation, the lateral restraint system will need to be studied, and
modifications to that system included in the project.

If the condition has developed recently in a short period of time, leveling
the floor will probably close cracks in the wall finishes as well as
straightening the racked openings.  If the condition has developed slowly
over many years, cracks in the wall finishes have probably been repaired
numerous times by filling them with patching plaster -- leveling the floor
will open new cracks -- it may even be best to figure on removing and
replacing the finishes on walls that are racked.

If the openings are reframed so that the doors and windows operate
correctly, the floor cannot later be leveled without having to undo the
reframing work.  If it is later decided to level the floor, it may then be
best to install an overlay of tapered sleepers and new finish flooring.

Leveling a floor sometimes leads to having to decide to what elevation is
the floor leveled.  If the sills of the entrances to the house are at
slightly different elevations because of differing amounts of settlement,
the choices are complicated.  If the perimeter foundation has settled
varying amounts, but the basement foundation has not, other choices are
called for.

The solutions to the condition you describe are not inexpensive; some folks
decide that sloping floors and racked openings are just part of the
character of an old house that give it charm.

Nels Roselund
Structural Engineer

-----Original Message-----
From: Rodriguez, Marlou <mrodriguez(--nospam--at)>
To: 'SEAINT Newslist' <seaint(--nospam--at)>
Date: Wednesday, November 22, 2000 8:14 AM
Subject: Out of Plumb Residence need help on fix.

>I currently live in a house that is out of plumb, doors are sticking and
>some sliding glass doors do not function any more.
>I think I have figured out what have caused this.  There is a driveway
>that runs under the house out to the street.  I suspect the drain has
>under the foundation and the soil is now expanding when it gets wet.  This,
>I suspect, has caused the house to bow in the middle of the house.  This
>is lightly noticeable in the floor, but the doors and windows are sticking.
>The owner has decided that he will re-rout the broken drain, but he also
>wants to find a way to fix the bowing of the house.
>I believe that the only way to fix the house is to re-frame all the windows
>and doors that are sticking and no long square.  But that does not fix the
>floor from bowing.  Re-framing the floor can be very costly but may be the
>only solution.  The other solution may be to leave the floor framing the
>it is, build up above the framing to level the floor and re-apply the
>Does anyone else know of an inexpensive solution to this problem.
>Thanks in advance.
>Marlou B. Rodriguez
>Biggs Cardossa Associates Inc.
>Structural Engineers
>1871 The Alameda, Suite 200
>San Jose, California 95126
>408-296-5515 Fax 408-296-8114
>Note:  The opinions that I write are my opinions and
>are not necessarily the opinions of BCA.