Ways to Fix Structural Damage in Old Houses

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Fix Structural Damage in Old Houses
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Old houses often suffer from some form of structural damage, whether it is a sagging porch, a leaky roof, or some other problem.

In many cases, the damage results from shifting the structure itself. Other times, it can occur by environmental factors such as soil erosion. Regardless of the cause, structural damage can seriously affect the integrity of your house.

Assuming that this is not simply cosmetic damage, you will have to find a way to fix the problem. There are several ways to do this, depending on the specific situation.

What are the common types of structural damages that you should look out for?

There are two ways to classify structural damage, i.e., interior cracks and exterior damage. Internal damages mainly occur from water leakage. At the same time, external occur from earthquakes, strong winds, or even burrowing animals. Here are some of the most common structural problems in old houses, along with some suggestions on how to solve them.

Environmental Factors

You may notice that your house is shifting or sagging, and there is no structural damage to be seen. Dig up your soil and replace it with new, compacted soil. If you have a sagging porch, this will require digging up your porch’s footings; the cause is underground erosion, a shifting foundation, or simply poor construction. In this case, you will need to correct the problem with the ground itself.

Sagging Porches

One of the most common and persistent problems old houses suffer from is sagging porches. First, you will need to look at the support beams underneath the porch. If they are still in good shape, the problem may be that the ground underneath your house is shifting.

You may be able to solve the problem by building a foundation that sits on top of your soil instead. If this doesn’t work, you will need to install steel cables outside your house.

If your support beams are in good shape, you will need to look closer at the vertical beams supporting your porch. These vertical beams typically cover horizontal pieces of wood called joists.

If any of these joists are broken or missing, then they can significantly weaken your porch’s support structure. Simply put, what you need to do is replace them with new pieces of wood. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you may need to cut new joists. You may have to cut some additional pieces as well, depending on the specific situation.

Beams can be replaced by screwing on a new one. Joists must be cut, then supported on both sides before installation can take place into place.

Leaks in the Roof

If you notice that your roof is leaking, there is a structural problem with the roof itself. First, you will need to find out where exactly your roof is damaged.

If it’s a hole or some other damage, you can try to fix it yourself. The problem may be something as simple as a broken shingle, or it could occur by damage to your roof’s structural beams. Patch the hole with a waterproof sealant and apply a thin metal coat over the top. If the damage is more structural, you will need to hire a professional.

Sagging Floors

Old houses can have serious structural problems with their floors. This is one of the most dangerous structural problems, as it can be tough to spot.

If you notice that the floors are uneven, you can try to fix it yourself. First, place a level along the floorboards. If there are any shallow spots, you’ll need to put a shim underneath the board.

If it’s simply sagging, then you may be able to fix it with some sturdy structural supports underneath.

Structural problems can be hazardous if you don’t care for them. Not only do structural issues affect the look of your house, but they also affect its structural integrity.

This can have a variety of consequences ranging from annoying to extremely dangerous. If you suspect structural damage, always call a structural engineer.

Internal damage

Internal damage can be challenging to detect. If you have any structural damage, the only way to truly fix it is by hiring a professional. Remember that patching up holes or broken beams can be extremely dangerous. If you find any damage, always call a professional.

Bursting of pipes occurs by accumulating water inside a line. These may be due to leakage or even when a pipe breaks.

Cracks and holes on the walls and ceilings occur by either a burst pipe or water leakage through the house’s roof.

Escalator in wall running vertically or horizontally through the ceiling and floor of a room. This results in water leakage inside the walls—root penetration into the pipes due to tall trees around the house.

External damage

The first step towards repair is trying to determine the types of damages. External damage can occur from heavy rains, air pollution, and extreme weather conditions. Sudden exposure to water or weather can be easily recognized.

Types of damages caused by exposure to water and weather

Cupping happens when the deck loses its smoothness or luster due to exposure either to water or weather.

Crazing the paint starts chipping off due to exposure to water or weather.

Fading happens when the paint changes its color due to water or weather conditions.

Frost damage happens when torrential rain or snow has led to ice formation on the external surfaces.

Chips happen when the paint chips off due to exposure either to water or weather conditions.

Damage caused by insects occurs in holes, trails, and nests.

Cracks in the masonry, i.e., walls and foundations of a house. What are the causes of these damages?

The causes of the internal damage vary, depending on which category they belong to. The causes of the external damage are as follows:

Earthquakes – Earthquakes may cause damage to houses due to their poor foundation or faulty construction.

Strong winds – These may cause damages of the same nature as that of earthquakes.

Burrowing animals – Animals such as rats and squirrels may burrow into a house’s walls, resulting in damages.


In conclusion, structural damage in old houses can have a variety of causes, from environmental factors to just simple poor construction. You may fix the damage yourself in some cases, but it is always best to consult a professional. If you are looking for ways to fix structural damage in old houses, this article has given you a few suggestions.

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