Maintaining your home’s crawl space is just as important as monitoring the rest of your property. Your crawl space has far more say over the structural integrity of your home than its size might suggest.
Take your crawl space joists, for example. These joists work to support your crawl space’s ceiling, also known as the floor of your home. If these joists aren’t actively supported, you may find yourself contending with sinking, sagging, bouncing, and an otherwise unsafe floor. The moisture that damaged joists bring into your crawl space can also make the space an ideal incubator for mold and other dangerous conditions. Also, if the design caused them to take on too much weight, they can end up being over-spanned from the beginning.
This is where professionals serving Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, can step in. If you suspect something’s gone wrong with your crawl space’s joists, it’s best to reach out for professional guidance. The experts in your area can assess your crawl space and help identify any forces that might be weakening your joists. By the time we finish inspecting your home, you’ll have a free quote on hand detailing what repairs your home may need and what waterproofing measures will help you avoid this kind of damage in the future.
The Purpose of Floor Joists
If you’ve moved into a newly constructed home, or you’ve never had a hand in home repairs before, you may not be able to identify the moving parts of your crawl space on sight. Floor joists make up the bulk of your ceiling and floor supports. Construction teams install joists—most commonly I-joists—beneath the floor of your home to ensure your floor’s stability. If those joists are holding too much weight, your floor may start to sag, bounce, or otherwise prove unsafe to walk on.
One of the ways that joists can become over-spanned is because the initial construction team didn’t realize there were going to be certain outside forces pressing on the joists. The forces that have the most impact on the stability of your crawl space joists include:
- Hydrostatic pressure – The most common force to work against your home, hydrostatic pressure, forces your home’s structural materials to change size on a molecular level. Rapid changes in size can cause the structures in question to come under a significant degree of stress. That stress can result in cracks and damage that lead to weaker crawl space joists and leaking throughout your home.
- Soil composition – Certain types of soils are more prone to water absorption than others. If you live on mineral-rich clay, your soil may expand in the summer and contract in the winter. As your soil expands and contracts, it loosens, causing the supports throughout your crawl space to fall out of place. As your joists destabilize, they can allow moisture into your home or otherwise compromise the structural integrity of your floors and crawl space ceiling.
- Poor construction – There’s always a chance that the construction team who built your home made a mistake during the joist installation process. For example, the joists may not support one another or may be made out of inappropriate materials. In these cases, your joists can begin to give out long before age or even environmental strain might force them to. The good news is that area professionals can help you identify the difference between joists damaged by poor construction and joists suffering from environmental stress.
Watching For Damage
It’s best to not let over-spanned joists have a long-term impact on the structural integrity of your home. Determining when your joists need repairing or replacement can be a tricky task, especially if you don’t know what signs of damage to watch for. Some of the most common symptoms of over-spanned joists in your crawl space and the rest of your home include:
- Sagging floors
- Cracking walls and floors
- “Bouncy” floors
- Air rising through the home from the crawl space
- Higher electric and water bills than normal
Unfortunately, these symptoms can also indicate some kind of failure in your foundation. If you notice any of these symptoms in your home, you need to reach out to area professionals as soon as possible. The local experts serving Raleigh and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, can inspect your crawl space and let you know what kind of damage you’re contending with.
Install Additional Supports Beneath a Damaged Floor
If the damage you’re contending with has spread to your floor, you’re going to need additional support to help your new joists stabilize your home. One of the best ways to ensure that your floor remains in one piece is to have area professionals install a support system like IntelliJack™ underneath your home’s floor joists.
The IntelliJack™ system is different from sistering or complete replacement because it lets you keep your current floor joists, but it also adds true support underneath the joists. With the IntelliJack™ system, you don’t have to worry about your home’s support structure, because you’re bolstering it with a truly impressive one.
Waterproofing Your Crawl Space After Your Repairs
It is in your best interest to waterproof your crawl space after professionals finish their joist repairs. Most experts serving Raleigh and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, can offer you access to a variety of crawl space waterproofing measures, including:
- Encapsulation with a vapor barrier – These thick, plastic-like barriers are designed to prevent moisture in iquid and gaseous forms from entering your crawl space.
- Dehumidifiers – Dehumidifiers, especially when paired with vapor barriers and other forms of waterproofing, can work to eliminate the moisture in your crawl space or in other parts of your home.
- Waterproof insulation – This insulation creates a physical, hydrophobic barrier between your home and unwanted moisture.
- Drainage and sump pump systems – Interior drainage systems and sump pumps are used together to intercept any leaking water and remove it from the crawl space.
Note that you don’t just have to use one type of crawl space waterproofing measure in your home. Instead, you can stack your measures. Vapor barriers, for example, can work in tandem with non-commercial dehumidifiers to limit the amount of moisture that settles in your crawl space. If you’re not sure what combination of home waterproofing measures might suit your property best, don’t hesitate to have a conversation with the professionals serving your area.
Over Spanned Joists
Some people wonder whether joist damage could just go away over time. However, unfortunately, the opposite is usually true. The longer damaged joists sit in your crawl space, the more dangerous that damage is going to become.
- The Dangers of Continuing Crawl Space Damage
Your floor joists suffer from excessive exposure to moisture just like the rest of the structural supports in your home. That moisture, if not given the opportunity to evaporate, can oversaturate your joists to the point where they disconnect from their peers. These joists may even develop wood rot if their damage isn’t caught within a reasonable amount of time.
What’s worse, signs of joist damage can appear in other parts of your home if the damage sits for too long. Floors without sturdy joists tend to be bouncy or to make unusual amounts of noise when you walk across them. If you find yourself dealing with these kinds of problems, you’ll want to reach out to area professionals for an inspection as soon as you can, or else the damage will only have additional time to worsen.
- Long-Term Crawl Space Damage and Your Home’s Value
Crawl space damage can impact your home’s value both now and in the future. While
syour home’s value may not be a big deal to you right now, it can definitely be a big problem in the future. It’s always a good idea to have your home’s value in the back of your mind,
The value of your home will go down with crawl space damage, and if you have crawl space damage, including damaged joists, you have to put it on your home’s market listing. This can make it difficult to woo potential buyers. Even if someone is interested, you may end up having to sell your home at a loss, as buyers often want compensation for purchasing a home that’s actively contending with damage. You may lose up to 30 percent of your home’s value if you try to sell without investing in the appropriate repairs. It’s best to invest in your home’s value today by fixing the joist issues.
Homeowners concerned about the cost of repairing damaged crawl space joists may consider trying to go about their repairs without help. While DIY work can be great in some areas of the home, DIY crawl space repair can be expensive and dangerous. If you’re concerned about the cost of repairing your crawl space joists, professionals in your area can still help. You can make your concerns regarding your budget clear while also benefiting from a free quote on the services your home needs.
- The Cost of DIY Work
As mentioned, homeowners who try to DIY their crawl space joist repair often end up spending more money on materials and tools than they initially anticipated. This is typically because of a general cost associated with home repair that many DIY homeowners don’t recognize. The startup costs of a DIY crawl space repair project are often extremely expensive.
.Experts can invest a significant amount of money into great tools that they can use on thousands of crawl space repair projects. However, if you’re only using these tools for one fix, it’s much more expensive
- The Long-Term Danger of DIY Mistakes
Making mistakes while you’re learning a trade is a crucial part of the learning process. The last thing you want to do, however, is to make a mistake while repairing damaged floor joists. It takes years for experts to learn how to fix the source of damage, and that’s one of the reasons professionals are so beneficial for homes.
If you’re not able to address the source of damage in your home during a repair job, you may accidentally cover up the damage, allowing it more time to fester and weaken the structural supports throughout your home. Professionals will ensure that your floors are secure and that your crawl space is watertight. Regardless of how good you are at DIY, this typically isn’t a great option for home structural stability.
If you’re looking to protect your crawl space joists, you need to invest in regular crawl space inspections. Professionals can come out to your home on an annual basis and make sure your joists are working as they should. They can also keep an eye on the rest of your space and let you know if anything looks wrong.
- Kicking Off a Crawl Space Inspection
Most crawl space inspections involve three phases: an early inspection, a superficial inspection, and a full inspection. Early inspections allow professionals to take a closer look at the entrance to your crawl space.
This entrance needs to be at least two feet wide and 18 inches tall. Professionals cannot enter spaces without this kind of established entrance without putting themselves in harm’s way.
If inspectors can safely enter your crawl space, then you can move on to the superficial and full inspections. During a superficial inspection, local experts will keep an eye out for anything obviously wrong with your space—standing water, broken joists, and so on. If nothing pops up on their radar, they’ll take a closer look at the nooks and crannies of your space. It’s during these phases that the professionals can most readily identify the damage that puts the rest of your home at risk.
- Failing a Crawl Space Inspection
It is possible to fail a crawl space inspection or to have an inspection delayed due to existing damage. As mentioned, crawl spaces without appropriately sized entrances automatically fail their inspections. Homeowners living in these environments will need to expand or otherwise stabilize their crawl space entrances before professionals can take a step inside.
Glaring problems can cause a crawl space to fail its inspection. For example, if your joists have started to pop away from their supports, or if there’s standing water in your corners, then professionals will want to get to work as soon as they can. “Failing,” in this way, lets professionals know what kind of help it is that you need with your home. If your crawl space doesn’t obviously fail its inspection in one way or another, you can instead use your time and professionals’ expertise to explore the waterproofing options that might best suit your home.
Connect With Professionals in Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC
Protecting your crawl space joists doesn’t have to be a challenge. Instead, if you think something’s gone wrong with your joists, get in touch with Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, professionals at Tar Heel Basement Systems. Our experts can investigate your crawl space and help you determine what force has put your joists at risk. In no time at all, you can have your joists restored and your crawl space waterproofed.
Ready to take back your home? Get in touch with Raleigh and Winston-Salem, NC, professionals today to schedule a free inspection and repair estimate.