Cracked Walls & Slanted Floors

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Posted by: from Winnipeg
12/29/2012 at 3:44:21 PM

I have a 1 1/2 storey house built in 1920's, with an older addition. No basement, only a crawl space.

There are cracks in lots of the walls in the house, and the window frames are splitting in one section of the addition. It almost appears the cracks are separating as they are getting wider, and longer. The living room and bathroom floors (opposite side of house where addition is) are slanted towards the middle of the house.

I would really like some help to try to identify what could be causing this, as I am worried it may be the foundation.

Any information on what may be causing the problems and how to fix would be greatly appreciated.

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Date/Time12/29/2012 at 5:18:25 PM

Sorry to hear about your cracks but unfortunately everything you have described points back to the foundation. One cause may be the footing that was poured without a proper tie to the existing home.

For all I know it may have been constructed on grade (on the ground). Which if that is the case there is settling going on which would explain the addition cracks.

The home being build in the 20s could also be settling or shifting.

Best advise is to assess the crawl space and possibly re jack and bring the low spots to level. Keep in mind that initially there will be further cracking, but this will allow for you to then repair all interior cracks.

Good luck

Joey Arruda

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Date/Time12/29/2012 at 5:23:38 PM

If not the foundation, it could be supporting footings that have been tampered with. I.e. support post in the middle of the crawl space that may have been modified. Or even beams spanning across the foundation walls that may be compromised.

Regardless, the solution is probably going to require professional attention. You will also want to get a building permit when resolving this. So, I would start with the city and ask if they can refer you to a few licenced companies that can help you. You will need the help of a structural engineer, so be sure to ask if the company and engineer helping is qualified, ask for references, proof of liability insurance, etc.

This repair could get expensive, so make sure it gets done right the first time. And do everything by the books. No cash deals. You want all the documentation for your files.

Good luck.

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Date/Time12/29/2012 at 5:23:57 PM

I would agree with Joey above. Sounds like foundation issues and the fact it is almost 100 years

Thats the problem with old houses.....most of them need to be gutted and redone. There isn't much you can do besides start over. Big bucks unfortunately.

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Gus from Triworx Design in Vaughan
Date/Time12/29/2012 at 5:23:57 PM

This is about your foundation problem.

You probably have stone foundation and its all settling.

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Date/Time12/29/2012 at 5:35:44 PM

This seems to be a foundation problem, anyway you better check with some contractor and the city wherever you live to make sure it if safe.

To solve this some times the best way is redo it. Work on something is already in that conditions is just waist of time and money.

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Joanna in Winnipeg
Date/Time12/29/2012 at 6:43:48 PM

Thank you for the responses, it's really appreciated. I figured it has something to do with the foundation.

Bill-We are in Winnipeg, and I am going to try to locate some Structural Engineers here to see what they say and what they will quote me.

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Date/Time12/29/2012 at 9:13:20 PM

Dear Sir / Madam

I would have someone look at your perimeter drains. It sounds like the foundation is settling and will need to be re supported.

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Date/Time12/30/2012 at 8:17:08 AM

It sounds as though you have a main support issue. In other words the beam that carries the load from above is compromised in some way.

My advice to you is to call a structural engineer in to survey your problem.

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Date/Time12/30/2012 at 9:30:54 AM

Hello Joanne,

Your home is approaching almost a century in age and the troubles are most likely a weakening foundation.

It is a common problem in homes built that long ago-because you have a crawl space and you are heating your home and probably not the crawl space- your foundation is battling condensation. very often the concrete used at the time for the footings and foundation pour is a sandy based mix. this type of mix over time of heat and cold tends to become weaker.

If you can get into your crawl space and scratch at your concrete with a nail or screw driver to see how strong it is-this will indicate if it has weakened or not. Most of the time if it is weak you can scratch into it easily.

It may also be that the concrete is strong but your structure was built on a sandy base.

Not impossible to repair but can be expensive. Best advise is to have a structural engineer or someone you trust come and have a look.

Without seeing pictures of your problem it is tough to be sure but settling and cracking in your walls usually does indicate foundation trouble.

Hope you find a easy solution. :)

Bruce Tiffin

Granite Wood Construction

Georgian Bay, Parry Sound, Muskoka

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Date/Time12/30/2012 at 11:36:20 AM


You have enough advice which all says basically the same thing. The decision now would be whether you want to stay in a heritage building and renovate or move to a newer house. Unfortunateld the cost is there at either option.

Getting professional advice is step number one as you can do the math from that point on. Regardless, something should be done with your existing house to make it liveable.

Sorry the hear of the hardship.

Good luck.

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Date/Time12/30/2012 at 4:08:51 PM

Although it is impossible to diagnose your problem conclusively without a site visit, it sounds like you have the beginnings of structural failure.

In our experience houses of your vintage are either very over built or very under built and typically under built is the norm. The recent opening up of cracks may be due to snow loads accumulating on the roof.

The solution would be to strengthen the structural frame. You would need a structural engineer with experience in residential construction to analyze your house , find the gaps in the structure and design a solution. A good contractor with the related experience may be able to do this for you. You will need a building permit for this work.

We recently worked on a house this age. All of the second floor loads were carried to a wall in the center of the house. The ground floor loads were also carried to the center of the house. In the basement at the center line location there was no beams or columns to transfer the loads to the ground. The ground floor at the center of the house had sunk down by one inch. We installed beams and columns and jacked the structure at a cost of approx. $4000.00. plus HST.

Get the right advice from an experienced engineer or contractor or preferably both.

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Date/Time12/30/2012 at 11:39:34 PM


Without actually seeing this situation I can only speculate. However, I will try my best. First I would look at any support piers beneath your house, they may have settled under the weight of your house and this would also throw your floor out of level as well.

I would also look at the field stone foundation. They were built to last but only if they had decent footings. If footings are the issue they you will probably be looking at underpinning and repouring your foundation.


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