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Livestrg05 03-31-2009 07:23 AM

Floor is sloping to outside edges
Hi all,

My wife and I have a contract to buy our first house, and yesterday while going around the home for a second time, my wife's father noticed that the floor along the outside facing wall was sloping downwards. After closer inspection, we also found this to be the case in all 3 bedrooms. In each room, the floor is sloping towards the wall facing outside, but we're not talking a lot of slope and just out about a foot or two from the wall. We used the golf ball technique to watch the ball roll to the edges. The house was built in '58 and has original parquet wood floors. We believe this may have happened because of a previous water leak that may have gotten under the slab since the plumbing was replaced about 5 years ago. The house is in Florida, so no basement to check, and it's not off-grade so it doesn't have a crawl space to check either. One of my major concerns is whether the slab is still compressing or not, if that is in fact the cause.

My questions are what might have caused this to happen, what are the methods to fix it and just how much might it cost to fix. Obviously, if it's not really expensive, we'll hire someone to come out and fix it.

Thank you all for the help.

Daniel Holzman 03-31-2009 07:45 AM

Out of level floor slabs are pretty common down south. I inspected almost two hundred houses along the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and many of the slabs were out of level. The condition occurs because of differential settlement of the soil underneath the slab, which can occur due to a variety of conditions, such as improper compaction of the soil before placing the slab, changing moisture conditions under the slab, different soil conditions from one side of the slab to the other, a slab placed out of level (unusual, but it happens).

Since you noticed the problem on all three bedrooms, it sounds like the outside of the slab has settled more than the interior, which does not sound like a plumbing leak (the leak would have occurred in one location, not likely to have spread around the entire slab). The best way to check slab condition is using a builder's level or a water level, two tools that most inspectors do not have. A water level accurate to about 1/4 inch will tell you how far out each part of the slab is.

If the slab is continuing to settle due to compression of soil, you will probably see cracks in the plaster inside the house. Look in particular around doors and windows at the corners. I have seen houses that were out more than 4 inches in 20 feet, producing long, wide cracks in the plaster, very noticeable.

Repair is generally expensive, and can be done in a variety of ways, including mud jacking, installation of piers, use of helical screws as slab supports, and a variety of less common techniques. None of these are DIY procedures. Most people just elect to live with the problem, but you may wish to consult a specialist who can offer an opinion as to the likelihood that the settlement will continue, and what issues it may create.

Livestrg05 04-01-2009 08:15 AM

Thanks. That's kind of what I was thinking. Our inspector thought everything looked ok, and that the damage is probably due to when the house was built originally, but it's not continuing to happen. We're going to have a engineer come out today just to put my father-in-law at ease.

Does anyone happen to know a general number of how much it costs for high-pressure grouting/concrete to fix the problem. I really have no idea and I was kind of looking for a general number. The house is 1490 sq. ft and the problem looks to be in 3 bedrooms and the living room. Thanks again for the help.

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