Settlement with no suspects


Inspected a 30 year town home yesterday and found the front storm door and especially a first floor bath door way out of plumb. There is also minor cracking extending outward from where a first floor load bearing wall meets the ceiling.

In the very yucky, uncondtioned crawl there were no visible signs of stem wall cracks in areas that did not have foam board insulation. There is an overspanning of the floor joists (24’’ o.c.) with a horizontal span of at least 14’ - No support beams OR bracing.

I suspect (so far) that the overspanning may be the cause of the cracks where wall meets ceilng. But what about the settlement issues with the doors. I’ve been unable to determine the likely culprit and would appreciate your feedback. Photos attached. I already know about the rot in the joist pic which is beneath the front door.

Erol Kartal




Hi. Erol;

The first picture is telling me the the hinge side of the door has gone down a hair, or the latching side of the doorframe has gone up.

Unable to see if the position of the door is parallel with the framing member or perpendicular to it. If the door frame is parallel to the framing and is overspanned, this could happen. The sag in the framing would be enough to cause this.

The exterior screen door was not installed correctly.

This type of screen door comes with the hinge already on the door and the head piece trim and the latch piece trim come separate.
Typically, one would install the head piece trim and then hang the door and square it up with the head trim. The latch side trim goes on last and adjusted with the margine of the door.

The picture of the rotted sub-floor, obviously is leaking from somewhere above.

Best I can do Erol from small pictures.

Hope this helps some.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :smiley:

Hi Marcel,

Pic1 door is running perpendicular to the floor joists. I know about the sub-floor rot I just threw in a joist pic. You didn’t mention anything about lack of beams or bracing. Would this be a strong possibility?

Thanks Erol

Hi. Erol;


Since I cannot see other than the pic’s, I would have to say that it is conceiveable to have that door movement due the overspan as you mentioned or something else to make the floor deflect in the general area of the door.

Since I noticed that the last pic depicts an open web floor truss design, I chose to send you this in case it might spark something you saw on your inspection that might relate to the problem question.

If all else, I believe when one sees something that ain’t just right and is noted and reported accordingly, you have done your job.

But, if like me and one that needs to know what makes things tick, well we ask questions. ha. ha. And thanks for asking.

Your storm door, one could verify movement or bad install by confirming the status of the interior door. Forgot to mention that earlier.

Hope this helps.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Yeah I’m one of those that’s needs to put the puzzle together. :wink: I’m almost positive the overspan without support beams is the culprit.

Thanks again! :cool:

Hi Erol,

My house is built with 14" open web trusses for the joists on both floors. They are also 24" O.C. with a 21’ horizontal span and has 2 " of Gypcrete concrete on the floors for radiant heat tubing. Now, my house is only 4 years old, but there is no sagging.

These open trusses are pretty darn strong. What I am trying to say is, 24" O.C. is not necessarily an overspan if the trusses are designed for that span. If you are that interested, you would need to contact the manufacturer to find what their span rating and spacing is.

My 2 cents.

This is a judgment call, and you should describe what you’ve picture-documented and defer to a specialist. In the good old days before our industry became a fertile field for attorneys who were looking to “plough,” differential settling was anticipated and tolerated. It usually occurs in the first five to seven years, and one-inch in twenty feet was not considered alarming. Having said that, defer, defer, defer.

Defer is a good suggestion, but those floor trusses appear to be more than sufficient to span 14 feet without a center beam, and cross-bridging, if that’s what you meant by “bracing”, would not be required, so I doubt very much that the problem is with the trusses. It all depends where the doors in question are located, and the exact location and direction of the observed cracks. To make any kind of evaluation would require seeing the entire situation at once, thus: defer to someone who is licensed and qualified to do that.

Thanks guys. I forgot to mention that a splash block positioned incorrectly has been pouring water parallel with a stem wall for many years. :oops:

I have a question for you structural gurus ;-). Can a foundation settle without exhibiting any structural cracks?

Depends on the amount of settling, and if the settling is differential or not. Settling cracks are easily repaired and may be difficult to see after that. I always tend to find some reason to defer if it exists. Failing that, my reports include material that educates my clients and informs them that I’m not a specialist, and that if they fail to obtain a specialist opinion that they must accept any risk that might be entailed.

I agree with what you are saying Keith, and this is definitely an issue for a specialist.

I guess having casted commercial foundations and building Commercial buildings and understanding the structural design and performance of residential foundations all my life might make me one of those, but would never put myself on the line for a $300 inspection.

Defer, defer, defer, this is a touchy subject and interpretation of the observer. Although I know that settling of any kind on a structural foundation will show some evidence somewhere on it’s movement, I will be able to conclude assessment as to what is happening, but would never condone anyone in the HI Inspections to attempt it unless they are fully versed in action vs reaction and the causes there/after.

Learn the difference between shrinkage cracks and movement cracks and defer the evaluation by a structural Engineer.
Note and report what you see and move on.

It is one thing to talk about these things on this BB for our own educational use as long as it is not applied in the field of inspections half blind to the real causes.

As Keith has always said, we are suppose to be Generalists and not specialists.

Keith, thank you for all your wisdom and sharing to all of us.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

$425 :twisted: :wink:

The structural dude is coming out soon. The ‘inspectee’ is a friend, were having fun with this. :smiley:

Marcel, thank you, and you’re certainly welcome.

Thank you Keith for thanking Marcel who I thanked earlier for thanking me. :???: LOL

Too funny:) :wink:

Thanks and by the way, man, you are expensive. ha. ha. You must be good. :wink:

But on the other hand, I just as soon keep my day job and help you guys out, if I can, for any less. ha. ha.

Marcel :smiley: