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When a house settles

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Is that a good thing or a bad thing? This place is an older home and there are points upstairs where you feel a little lopsided. The second floor is almost dipping.

When I was looking through it, the realtor brushed it off as "oh that's just the house settling" Our last place was like that...except the house was almost dipping in (like it was going to cave in).

IMO I don't think houses should lean, ever. But is this an OK thing or will the floor eventually cave in?
post #2 of 15
Always before buying a house you should get a home inspection done. Routine :settling" shouldn't be overly noticable. Anything noticiable could be signs of foundation issues.
post #3 of 15
Ahh, just how much of lean are we talking here? If you drop a ball on one side does it roll over and hit the other wall?
I've seen plenty of settling, like cracks in walls and ceilings, doors not quite lining up like they did, but you shouldn't feel on a strange angle inside a house. I'd definitely get the basement checked out thoroughly before buying.
Subsidence and a bit of settling aren't the same!
post #4 of 15
The "settling" is a sign that at some point, your house was moving. That is not unusual with an older house. The real question is "is it still moving??". If the answer is yes, then you should have a structural evaluation.

My house is 150+ yrs old, and nothing is straight or plumb at this point, but we have had a structual engineer in to make sure it is done moving.
post #5 of 15
Whenever we buy houses over here they do mining searches for things like this.

How old is the house exactly?.
post #6 of 15
My dads house settled so he had to hire people to go under the house and pump up the foundation to where it was level again. If you own this house it will eventually have to be fixed. If you rent then i'd contact the landlord asap.
post #7 of 15
Some settling over time can be expected, but if its really bad and sagging it's NOT a good thing. You might want to have someone take a look at things and see what or if something will need to be done in the near future.
post #8 of 15
Wow, sounds scary to me. If you are seriously considering this house I would definitely consult a Structural Engineer. The Realtor wants to make a sale, never trust what the Realtor says.
post #9 of 15
Originally Posted by catcaregiver View Post
If you are seriously considering this house I would definitely consult a Structural Engineer. The Realtor wants to make a sale, never trust what the Realtor says.
I think they've just moved into it
post #10 of 15
Originally Posted by Rosiemac View Post
I think they've just moved into it
Oops! Well in that case I sure hope it's not as bad as it sounds!
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Yes, we're already here, but this place and the last place I noticed the "settling".

The house is probably close to 90-100 years old. The exact year is not known, but its estimated between the 1910s and 1920s.

There is only a crawl space under the house, no basement. We are in a fllood zone as well, so probably that has a lot to do with the movement.

It's not angled enough so that books and such are falling off the shelf after I put them on. I tested with well, a tube that holds a tiny scotch bottle in it, and the tube only rolls maybe a foot. I think I'm just ultra sensitive to being on angles.
post #12 of 15
Do you have a level??? I would place that on the floor sliding it on the floor and checking to see how out of level the floor is from one wall to the opposite wall!!
post #13 of 15
In my town, we have houses that are between 100-300 years old, and nearly all of the older houses have settled.

I lived in one apartment that you could set a marble down on the floor at one end of the house, and it would roll until it reached the other end! I've also lived in homes where the floorboards were so old (current apartment included, it has wide pine floors made of OLD planks) that they literally appear to be waves, like the ocean - the floor has little ripples in it. I just put a little extra padding down under my rugs, and we can't even tell.

I'm very accustomed to the cardboard trick: Place a little bit of folded cardboard under corners of bookcases, table legs, bureaus, etc - that helps level them out so nothing tips or falls off.

A bit of settling is natural, but if you are seeing cracks in the foundation walls, then you will absolutely need to get that fixed to prevent the walls from cracking and from losing the integrity of the support beams and lolly columns.
post #14 of 15
It sounds like you have piers, and depending upon how deep they go and whether there's bedrock under them, they may or may not be sufficient. I have a friend in New Mexico whose house was built on unmortared stacks of flagstone just sitting on the surface of the ground! It's stood that way for several decades, but... yikes!

That kind of settling is one thing. But if you also have floors that sink and sag, you might have a structural problem apart from the foundation. Often in older homes, plumbers and electricians have come in to update systems and they've cut notches in old joists to run their pipe and wire through. This weakens the floors, of course -- and in many cases, old pre-building-code construction is inadequate to begin with. You might also have a problem with dry rot, termites, carpenter ants...

You've got to get under the house and see what's going on down there. It may be fine, or it may only need some shoring up. Crossing fingers that it's nothing worse!
post #15 of 15
My moms house is almost 90 years old and it creaked and cracked all the time. It was structurally sound, but it was creepy when the wind would blow!

Have it looked at. If things are moving too much it would behoove you to get someone out there. . .

I went antique shopping once in this house in new england that had to be a million years old, and it was so creepy because the stairs were crooked, and when the wind blew you could almost feel the house sway if you were in the attic!

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