When you think about it, crawl spaces have it pretty rough. Unlike basements, which are enclosed and protected from the elements, crawl spaces are typically vented, unconditioned areas exposed to moisture, heat, cold, humidity and even wood-destroying insects year in and year out. It’s no wonder, then, that they can begin to sag as wood joists and beams — and sometimes even columns — weaken and rot over time.
Weakened wood joists and beams simply cannot span the distance between column columns as they were originally designed to. The original columns within the crawl space are also prone to settlement, as the exposed foundation soil is either compressed by the weight of the home or affected by changes in moisture content.
As the floors above a crawl space sag, you’ll notice floors that are uneven, sunken in the middle, or gapping where they meet the walls.
At CARE, we use the Supportworks SmartJack System, which is designed specifically for use as a supplemental support in a crawl space, to shore up sagging joists and beams and to be used in conjunction with the existing column. The galvanized steel components and the cast aluminum footing work in tandem with a cube of compacted engineered fill rock that absorbs and spreads the load to the surrounding soil and over a larger area. This leaves a sturdy, permanent fix that actually addresses the issues that caused the floors above the crawl space to sag in the first place.
Maybe it’s because crawl spaces are inherently ugly and hidden away, but it seems as if they’re often repaired using less than ideal methods. These can include replacing original sunken columns with new concrete block columns, which in addition to taking a long time to cure, can settle into the soil below, requiring placement of shims over time between the new columns and the wood framing. Unfortunately, these shims are most often just a temporary fix that will have to be replaced or added to down the line.
Light-duty jack posts can seem attractive because they are adjustable and are relatively inexpensive. They are prone to failure over time, however, because they may not have been designed to support the loads placed upon them from the home. They can also be prone to rusting, and, like concrete columns, they don’t address the underlying (soil) issue.
CARE design specialists are trained to expertly diagnose crawl space problems. They use highly specialized equipment that allows them to develop a solution tailored to your home’s unique needs. By the time the inspection is over, you’ll know exactly what caused the problem, exactly what it will take to fix it permanently and exactly how much it will cost to do so.