Floor joists are a vital element of the layout of your home and their condition should be regularly examined. Before moving any further, it is wise to briefly describe what a joist is, for a deeper understanding of its importance. A joist is a structural component used for framing and its purpose is to enhance solidity especially when used in flooring. "Consequently, a damaged joist compromises the firmness of the subfloor’s surface", according to home repair insurance experts IC Assist. They go on to add, "When floor joists get wrecked and fail to be attended to, this will eventually cause more structural problems to the house."
If you notice that the floor is either creaking or sagging, this is a sign that there might be one or more damaged joists, that require immediate attention. Due to the subtleness of the impact caused by wrecked floor joists, it may take time to realize that an urgent repair is required.
What Is the Cause of Damaged Floor Joists?
Most floor joists are fashioned in a way that ensures that they can bear as much weight as possible. They are also carefully crafted to shield them from premature damage from external factors. Even so, this is not enough to keep them from getting ruined. There are several habitual causes of damaged floor joists. We will highlight the 3 most usual ones. These are:
- Infestation by termites. While searching for cellulose, termites chew through surfaces such as wood and this leads to substantial damage over time. The furrows left behind usually make the surfaces weak, ineffective, and unusable.
- Accumulation of moisture in the crawl spaces. Floor joists become soft and begin to wear out when moisture is continually absorbed. Such moisture comes from natural humidity or the ground beneath being damp.
- Plumbing leakage from the house. Such leakage may be mild and may be coming from some pipes that are located inside walls or any other area that is out of sight. This kind of leakage is harmful to wood and accelerates its rate of getting ruined.
What Are the Signs of Damaged Floor Joists?
A creaking or sagging floor are the most common signs that are also easier to notice. Below are more signs to look out for, indicating that there are some damaged floor joists:
- Fractures on the interior side of the wall.
- Askew frames of the windows or doors.
- Slanting or unbalanced upper floors.
- Space supports that are asymmetrical.
- Decaying wood, that may also be moist.
Therefore, if you notice at least one of the above signs, you should be keen to make a follow-up and determine the cause. A damaged floor joist is probably the most obvious reason and not a single minute more should pass before contemplating its repair.
Materials And Equipment Needed for A Repair
Quite a number of tools might be needed for an effective repair. Some repairs may require all the tools listed below while others may only require a few. The specific materials and gadgets needed are dependent on the extent of floor joist damage and the kind of repair that is required. Gather the following items before starting the repair:
- Tape measure
- Power saw
- Joist hangers
- Shims made out of wood
- Hydraulic jack
Modes of Repairing Damaged Floor Joists
The process of repairing damaged floor joists may be approached from different angles. The mode of repair relies on factors such as the kind of damage that is to be rectified.
Lifting the floor
A wrecked floor joist may cause the floor to sag. The ideal solution to this problem is to lift the floor, therefore making it level once more. A beam should be fixed below the sagging floor as well as a screw jack. This helps to push up the sagging joist. There are situations where there are multiple ruined joists and the sagging areas are extensive. Even though you prefer repairing yourself, professional assistance may be required.
This owes to the fact that a lot of heavy lifting will be needed, using several screw jacks and beams. The help of experts should come in handy in such a case. In addition to this, you should keep in mind that the process of leveling the floor through lifting involves the probability of damage to the walls and other features too. This is one more reason why a professional should be contacted for their services, to minimize the possible resulting damages.
Sistering the joists
The process of sistering incorporates the installation of a new joist next to the wrecked one. This increases the density of the floor joist, therefore making it steadier. The new beam should have a length equal to the old one. In a case where the ruined joist holds up a lot of weight, the sintering process may involve the fastening of more than one new beam. The old joist is sandwiched between new beams for maximum stability, giving it adequate reinforcement to bear any extra weight.
In addition to these two options, removing and replacing the joist is another alternative. In particular, replacing the joist is effective where the existing joist has already lost the capacity to offer any structural support. Therefore, lifting the floor or sistering is an inefficient solution. Regardless of the repair method settled for, some expertise with carpentry equipment is necessary. If not, you should highly consider seeking help from joist repair experts.