House has shifted, window frame not square

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Posted by: from Winnipeg
11/7/2019 at 12:20:42 PM

Our house is perched at the top of a hill leading down to a riverbank. Evidently, there is a process of slow erosion that has been slowly causing one side of the house to drop down, because at the end of this summer, I found that one of the casement windows in the kitchen, which had been open all summer, could no longer be closed. The window frame has become ever so slightly a parallelogram, so that when the window swings on its hinges, it doesn't line up with the frame any more. It's out of alignment by about a centimeter. I'm not sure what the correct fix for this is. I've tried calling multiple places and haven't had much response. A window company told me that "a properly-installed window frame never gets skewed" and that they'd clearly have to rip the window out and reinstall it from scratch. I'm not sure I buy this, feels like fixing a symptom rather than a cause. Not sure who else to try, I called multiple foundation repair/lifting companies, and not one of them even replied to my message. It's now November and temperatures have been dropping to -15 C overnight, and I still can't close the window. What is the repair that's needed here, and who do I call to get it done? Do I need my foundation lifted? Do I need the window reinstalled? Is it something else?

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Date/Time11/8/2019 at 10:45:08 AM

Hi Jonathan,

Wow, that is quite an issue.

You are absolutely right to not buy into the replacing the window solution (although that will likely be necessary at the end).

In my opinion the first step would be to assess the structural component of the home at this point by retaining a Structural Engineer licensed in the province of Manitoba.

Following that, it is quite likely that the foundation will need to be addressed and there are methods of addressing that type of situation that are less invasive than tearing open the basement to underpin.

Speak to the Engineer about a helical coil or push pier underpin. It can be done in most cases from the outside and requires a bracket to be bolted to the footing of the home and attached to a pile that is driven into the ground until it reaches soil or rock that resists with enough force that an Engineer's calculations determines is sufficient to support the home and correct the deflection. This will be dependent on your homes existing footing and the calculations must be done be a licensed Engineer. Most of the companies that provide those services employ a Structural Engineer for that purpose.

You also may need to look at shoreline stabilization at the river. There are methods to address this issue too but very specific requirements from most Municipalities, the province, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change as well as possibly any Conservation Authorities in your area.

Please note that I cannot diagnose the issue with your home from here and cannot guarantee that the methods I outlined above will be the correct method of remediation for your situation.

My recommendation is to contact a licensed Structural Engineer first and go from there. Please also note that the skewed window frame is a visual indicator that the problem exists. If that deflection is showing at the window frame, it means that the issue can be greater within the structure, particularly above.

If cost is an issue once a prescripted method has been determined, ask for a temporary measures fix to mitigate further deflection and potential catastrophic failure of the structure.

Best of luck with this.

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Date/Time11/10/2019 at 3:21:01 PM

You need someone or a company to look at the structure of the home, foundation and why its shifting so much causing the window not to close

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