PLEASE HELP! swaying house, hollow floors, gravity heat

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

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Joined: Mon May 08, 2006 10:42 am

Post by krazykitten38 »

Yes! The pendulum is a great idea! It will isolate the frame from the bouncy floor! I will see if I can try it soon!

MORE questions:
1. If the frame is steady and the floors are just really bouncy (again remember they are 8"wide by 10+feet long) is there a way to add more supports?
2. Are bouncy floors typically sagging in the middle or (I would think) sagging multiple places (in between supports) which causes that bouncy feeling? (Which may indeed negate the water bottle technique if when you step in one place, the plank sags, but raises in another to compensate)
3. Is there a way to tell if the floor is really gonna cave in? My thought was to look at the ceiling of the lower level, but if sagging is normal in older houses, then is a little sagging in the ceiling normal too?
4. And if most old houses have unlevel +/or bouncy floors, is that due to the way they were built? foundation settling? water warping? sagging joists? old floor supports? or just that most floors were slightly uneven?

I know that alot of this stuff really is best checked out by a contractor, I just don't want to go through the trouble of hiring one and getting my hopes up if all he is going to say is "The house is swaying and going to fall any minute" or "These floors are about to cave in!" However, it is on the market for an average house price ( as opposed to "$10.00 AS-IS or even "fixer-upper") but how much do appraisers know about quality and Safety?

Thanks for all the help so far! Abuela- I love the idea of an e-journal to keep everyone posted about your home progress!!

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Post by HB »

I don't mean to sound critical here, but it seems that you need to learn a bit more about a house is contructed before you go to a contractor.
You are RIPE FOR THE PICKING if you happen to get a less than scrupulous contractor.

This was the right place to start looking for answers though, so good job on finding this place!

You should start by getting a house inspector to go through the place, and preferably someone that is not also running a contracting business on the side.

Floors are supposed to be hollow, that's how they're built. The floors are likely a bit uneven due to the age of the house. Unless that house is built in the eighteenth century, it's likely that things were pretty strudy and level when it was first built. Really old houses were often built with wood that was not fully dried, so they sagged a bit almost immediately.

It's likely that the beams that support the floor in question are a bit undersized so they make everything seem springy. This can be frixed, although it takes a bit of work to do it.

Finally, I would recommend that you get a book about basic carpentry and home repair and start reading it. It will help you understand more about how a house is built and what to look for.

Another great book would be "Restoring Old Houses" by George Nash.

Good luck!


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Location: North East, Maryland

Post by Starr-Point »

I think HB has set you on the right path. If you happen to know someone with some experience - a friend, outside the profession - you might ask his advice. If the "swaying" floors only span 10', you must have a serious problem. But woithout seeing it, I may be way off base.

How about just checking the place with a water or line level?

Best of luck.

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