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Why Is My Kitchen Floor Higher Than The Living Room?

Have you noticed that your kitchen floor has become higher than your living room? As far as you can remember, it used to be level. What could have possibly caused this? Well, we've done plenty of digging and have the answer for you.

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Here are three possible reasons why your kitchen floor is higher than the living room:

  • Soil movement as it expands and contracts when it freezes and thaws
  • Water damage due to a leaking pipe or improper drainage system
  • Inadequate structural support when the house shifts

Keep on reading to learn more about these causes of uneven floors in your house and what you can do to have them fixed. Let's get down to business!

Beautiful living room interior with hardwood floors and view of kitchen in new luxury home, Why Is My Kitchen Floor Higher Than The Living Room?

Floor Height Difference Between The Kitchen And Living Room

A piece of parquet floor tile slab sticking out after being stepped on as the wooden strip has become unglued and loose due to wear and tear over time.

Uneven floors are common among older homes, but they can also be observed in newer homes. As the name suggests, the surface is not level. One part is higher than the other.

It may seem like one part is shrinking or the other portion suddenly got raised.

Such can happen between your kitchen and living room. Kitchens are a particular concern because this is one of the parts of the house exposed to water and other factors, making it vulnerable to damage.

Of course, we're not talking about elevated kitchens designed that way.

This is a matter of choice and intentional in every way. Thus, it doesn't indicate any problem, and this should be obvious from the start.

To clarify, we're talking about uneven floors that have occurred over time. In other words, the floors generally started to be level, and you've observed one part rising or sinking over time.

This is dangerous as it can cause further damage to your house or accidents. Thus, it is essential to know the possible causes and appropriate solutions to prevent these adverse effects.

Causes Of Uneven Floors And How To Fix Them

Damaged parquet floor because of humidity and moisture, bending and come out, image captured by smartphone.

Here are the common causes of uneven floors in your house and a few solutions:

Soil Movement

Certain types of soil are porous and permeable. As such, they'll expand and contract depending on the prevailing temperature.

That's why the soil where houses are built needs to be compacted to minimize its movement regardless of the season.

It becomes a problem when the soil where your house is built isn't compacted correctly. The ground will expand and contract at certain times of the year as it freezes and thaws depending on outside temperatures.

When this happens, there's shifting in the ground and can cause other events involving your foundation, walls, and floors. Breaks or cracks on the floor are one of the physical manifestations in your house, as well as uneven floors.

Solution:

You need to consult a flooring specialist or building contractor to resolve the issue.

Some possible actions could involve improving drainage or grading underneath your house to direct water away from the foundation walls.

A 3% to 5% ground slope is recommended. Or they could consider putting a barrier on your foundation called a slanting swale to prevent moisture from seeping into it.

Water Damage

This means that there is excess moisture on the floors.

It usually happens when you have wooden flooring. Wood absorbs water but will eventually deteriorate and warp, causing the floors to be raised. Most of the time, the culprit here is a leaking pipe.

This is also common for those houses with a poor drainage system. If the water doesn't drain properly, it can freeze during winter.

Science tells us that water expands when it freezes, and it can reach the point wherein the expansion causes too much pressure on your house's foundation. It will then move and cause cracks on the floor's surface.

Solution:

The first scenario requires a two-step solution. You have to identify where your leaking pipe is since it's the one causing your wooden floor to be soaked with water. Ask the help of a plumber to do this.

Once it is fixed, you need to change your wooden floor. Have a contractor look at the damage's extent to determine the best way forward.

For the second scenario, you also need to consult a professional to see what can be done regarding your drainage system. They will assess whether adjustments need to be made to your drainage or the foundation itself.

Insufficient Structural Support

Your house settles and shifts over time, which can also cause your floors and walls to move.

It usually takes some time for the house's foundation to settle into the soil, and when it happens, there are changes in its structure.

When the structural support isn't adequate, the foundation, joists, and beams can warp, bend or break. This can be the cause of uneven floors.

Incorrect size of lumber and beams and wrong spacing between joists and beams can offer very little structural support to your house.

That's why when shifting happens, there is significant foundational damage, like shrinking floors in some portions of your house.

Solution:

You have to seek the assistance of a foundation repair specialist to determine the extent of the damage and the following steps to undertake.

It may include installing new beams to offer more support, using floor jacks, and a lot of carpentry repair strategies to make it right.

There you go. To summarize, uneven floors are caused by ground movement, water damage, and inadequate structural support. All solutions involve talking to experts to determine how to fix your floors.

Do Uneven Floors Mean Foundation Problems?

Wooden floor in apartment with floor damaged by destructive elements such as wet, moisture, water.

The foundation of the house is crucial since it bears the entire house load.
 
It is built underground to support the structure above. It also protects the house from groundwater and moisture to prevent related damage.
 
Homeowners can choose from concrete slabs, crawl spaces, or basement foundations. Each one has a different installation requirement affecting its function and cost.
 
A concrete slab foundation is closed, so you don't have access to your underground piping and wiring systems, unlike if you choose a crawl space or basement foundation.
 
With the right design and construction, the foundation can sustain the house's total weight but should something go amiss. Then the whole house is affected. That's why home buyers are very particular about foundation problems.
 
One symptom of foundation issues has uneven floors. However, it doesn't necessarily always mean that a house has foundation problems when it has uneven floors.
 
As discussed above, water damage and soil movement can also be why your flooring isn't level, although the latter causes settling and shifting that also affect the foundation, especially if it is weak, to begin with.
 
For new homes, the issue could be with the subfloor and how the concrete substrate didn't level the floor properly.
 
In other words, foundation problems aren't the only cause of uneven floors; they make the house more vulnerable to this type of damage.

Signs Your Home Has Foundational Problems

According to experts, some signs of foundation problems include:
  • Foundation cracks
  • Cracked concrete slabs
  • Cracks on the floor/ceilings
  • Gaps between the floor and wall
  • Damaged joists
  • Bowed walls
When you notice these issues in your house, you should immediately contact a foundation repair specialist to have it inspected.
 
Only then can you determine if the root cause of the problem is a foundation issue. From there, you want to get expert advice on what should be done.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix An Uneven Floor?

Man installing new laminated wooden floor

Nobody wants costly repairs, but sometimes there's no way to go about it other than to spend money to put the house back in order.

Fixing uneven floors can range from $1,000 to $10,000. The total costs would depend on the particular issue, the damage's extent, and the labor cost rate in your area.

Repairing uneven floors caused by water damage can cost between $2,000 and $6,000. A sinking foundation is more expensive to fix, with an average rate of $2,500 to $10,000.

Meanwhile, it would cost around $150 to replace each decayed floor joist and $250 for each foot of the center beam in your foundation.

It isn't a DIY job. You need to contact your trusted foundation repair specialist to get an estimate so that you can prepare your budget.

Our Final Thoughts

When you find that your kitchen floor is already higher than your living room, it indicates a mild or severe problem that needs to be looked into by a professional ASAP.

This could mean structural damage to your home's foundation, which can become severe.

Made it to the end? Check out these related home posts!

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