Structural or Normal Settlement?

I recently came across a common issue in 3 separate instances. The floor in each of the 3 kitchens had a downward slope from approximately 1-2 feet in front of the refrigerator toward the wall behind the refrigerator and extended a few feet to either side of the fridge.

The first time I saw it I called it out as a possible structural defect for a number of reasons including the fact that there appeared to be a former leak from the plumbing system located below this area and it appeared that the drywall ceiling below the area was replaced at one time.

Then I saw the same sloped floor situation in front of the refrigerator in 2 separate condo units within the same week. To me, it seems obvious now that I’ve seen it 3 times that the weight of the refrigerator has caused the floor to settle. The question is how would you write this up in the report? Does it need further evaluation? Has anyone else seen this issue?

As a note I was not able to see the underside of the floor in the condo units because there was no access to the units below. The homes were all wood frame construction and finished floors were linoleum (so no cracks in floor tiles in case anyone was wondering).

Gee. The only times I’ve seen settling like that there were obvious findings with foundation or joist problems. A refrigerator would only place in the neighborhood of 20 lb/sq ft loading, or not very much… that by itself really shouldn’t be a problem unless something somewhere else is going on.

The times I see that are when they use an enclosed porch as part of the living structure.

Definitely not normal.

I found a similar issue on a 15-20 yr house with a basement recently. The fridge was tilted and some tiles in the kitchen were cracked. I spent some extra time removing ceiling tiles in the basement, checking roof loads on a wall and found a load bearing wall without proper support. The structural repair and cosmetic issues caused by the problem would be very expensive to repair correctly. The client admitted that she almost cancelled the inspection after her father in law “inspected” the house and only found the obvious basement leak. She was very happy to pay me that day.

Assuming there are no other signs of a structural issue - no cracks in drywall, no obvious missing load bearing partitions, etc., How would you write up this observation in the report?

You are saying 12 to 24 inches of off level in the floor system in front of the fridge.I can not picture this or is the floor, the lowest point being where the fridge is and extending outward almost in a circle (radius ) of 1 to 2 feet and how deep is the depression from fridges weight, being at its highest point ( the floor that is ) off level…
That being said.The floor should not move 1 inch.The load of a properly lay-ed joists and sub-floor should carry that weight effortlessly.
Ask if the same builder did the construction for the condo’s for they use the same builders mostly and that could be why you have seen this in those 3 units.
To me it is not normal and would have to understand it better to give you advice on how to write it up.
Take a masons line and place it in the 2 opposite coiners of the kitchen and place it on the floor making sure it tight, real tight and you will visually see any depressions and where it is located.Go to the room underneath at that exact area and see if it continues and observe the celling to see if its has a extended bump in it.This might tell you if the joists are spreading .Is it near a load bearing wall was a load bearing wall removed.These are ll questions you my get answered by doing some simple investigation.See the tiles might have been replaced to make the floor look ok before any sale for I have had costemers ask me to hide all kinds of fractors depressons and structal problems.I never did and asked them how would they like buying a home with defects.Most of them answered { its not a big problem}.
I have done 34 years of repairs and new construction in my life and have learned alot but it seems like people have learned more on how to decieve.What a sad comment and observation.
\good luck.

Rob, the floor is out of level approximately 1-2 inches in a about a 3-4 foot span from about 1 foot in front of the fridge sloped toward the wall behind the fridge.

Wow. Who knew a refrigerator could do that to the floor. I haven’t seen that happen much, but it makes sense. If you can talk to the contractor who built the house and condos then that would be the first step. It will be better if you are able to write it up in your report that you talked to the builder of the units then nothing at all.

That clears it up all right.Now how wide are the joists 2/8- 2 /10’s and what are they centered and any cross bracing and at what length are the spanned.Was there a support wall removed below for again I have never seen a normal fridge do that to a floor.This would be some thing you should look into for there are code for carpenters and framers to follow.Its pretty striate forward and you should be able to even google it or ask some one in the trade.
I have heard of tree,s from the southern states being grown on hills having a tendency to bow or bend in roof frames and the carpenters all ask for BC wood and Canadian timbers for they are more sturdy and hearty by strain.
hope I helped you and thanks for getting back to me.
As for writing it up ,I would put in a note to have a frammer contractor look at this issue and did you see any other examples of off level in the home . Start with the basement and again a masons line to all joists at the bottom of the floor if posible and try to follow the load bearing walls up. See if any have been moved upder fridge.Windows ok doors ok is everything square.
Again good luck .Wish I could do more.

Is there a center flush (hidden inside the floor assembly) beam carrying lapped floor joists that happens to be located just in front of the refrigerator?

Does the floor slope in both directions on only in one?

I was not able to view the area below the areas in question. I don’t know what any of the framing looks like.

The floor was only pitched in one direction, toward the wall behind the fridge.