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  1. #1
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    Default Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    While doing the inspection with my client I notice a ton of stress cracks in the drywall on the second floor. The client asked me what I thought about them and I told him a couple might be normal, but these seemed excessive.

    We make it down to the first floor and I noticed the floor squeaking, again nothing too uncommon, but the squeaks didn't come from under me, they came from near the outside walls, 8 feet away.

    I get down to the crawlspace and find the following: Floor joists not on top of the bearing wall or sill plate, but hung with joist hangers to a ledger board which was nailed to the load bearing wall framing and to the furring strips on the foundation wall.

    Anyone else ever see something like this? I called it out for an engineered repair.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Have seen it! Primarily in deck framing or small room additions in an already framed space. Garage conversions and such. Even then, the center supports are usually stack framed. Too many connections that are dependent on nails. The natural shrinkage of wood leads to loose connections, ie. squeaks. Even when doing balloon framing, we put the ribband under the joist ends.
    Adding screws to ledger and using screws to double shear (toe nail) the joist ends would be helpful.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Is the exterior brick or block?


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Is the exterior brick or block?
    Block, foundation was built in 1999, house was from the 60's and moved onto the foundation. However, this was an addition which was built when the house was moved.

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    This is not an uncommon system, but it appears from the photos that the ledger is not anchored to the wall. The squeeking is probably the ledger rubbing on the studs. Adding 2 Simpson SDS screws through the ledger into each stud should take care of the problem.

    Thom Huggett, PE, SE, CBO

  6. #6
    David Lee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    It don't be like it is, but it do.


  7. #7
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Not sure it would technically be called balloon framing, but similar technique. Have no experience in comparing balloon framing to platform framing - - - in squeak test terms, but with so many more nails used as shear strength fasteners, ( ledger boards and framing brackets ), it makes sense that the "squeak" factor would be much higher w/ this framing. The reason for the drywall cracks is escaping me, but wall paper, wainscoating & like topical covers may be the best way to deal w/ it.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    You called it out exactly correct. I was hired to repair 73 problems on an old house built around the turn of the century that was being remolded. This house had 8x8 timbers on top of a stone foundation. The floor system was replaced by a (so called) builder and the (so called) builder nailed the ledger board to the side of the 8x8. The floor joists were tied to the ledger using joists hangers like in your photos. The house was red tagged and all construction stopped until an engineer could remedy the problem. The engineer specified the type, length, size, and spacing of lags to secure the ledger board to the timber. The ledger board in your photo looks like it’s nailed to 2x4 studs which most likely will require a different fix. I offer no advice on how to properly fix a serious problem like this. It does look like the seller is in for an expensive repair.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    I agree. That ledger needs better support than just nails. Just because balloon framing was common 100 years ago doesn't make it acceptable practice today. We expect better. Also our wood and nails of today are not the wood and nails of 1900.
    The joists are not lined up with the studs, wrong as well.

    The fact that the drywall is cracked and the floor is creaking proves it isn't good enough.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Just because balloon framing was common 100 years ago ...
    If, in fact, it is balloon framing, there are likely fireblocking issues all around the balloon framed areas.

    Each and every stud bay is required to be fireblocked at every floor and ceiling level. Normally, in platform framing, the platform does the fireblocking at the floor level.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    If, in fact, it is balloon framing, there are likely fireblocking issues all around the balloon framed areas.

    Each and every stud bay is required to be fireblocked at every floor and ceiling level. Normally, in platform framing, the platform does the fireblocking at the floor level.
    I really would not expect balloon framing from a 1960's house.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    I really would not expect balloon framing from a 1960's house.
    The framing from the original house was fine. This was the addition built in 1999.

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    If, in fact, it is balloon framing, there are likely fireblocking issues all around the balloon framed areas.

    Each and every stud bay is required to be fireblocked at every floor and ceiling level. Normally, in platform framing, the platform does the fireblocking at the floor level.
    Required? Granted that this house isn't really at issue, but are you saying that an existing house with balloon framing is "required" to be retro-fitted with fireblocking?

    Mark Fisher
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Fisher View Post
    Required? Granted that this house isn't really at issue, but are you saying that an existing house with balloon framing is "required" to be retro-fitted with fireblocking?
    I can't speak for Jerry , however I think he is referring to this being an addition built in 1999. This is long after fire blocking would have been required.
    If the original structure also had balloon framing it may have been allowed to remain unchanged.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    I personally don't think any of it is balloon frame, and now regret mentioning it in my post above. As the others said, it is a method used in balloon framing, but that is all. I'm pretty sure the subfloor passes over the ends of those 2 X 4 supports. It would be the easier way to get er done, so most likely.

    IMO. the builders used short joists to save a few bucks.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Do the joist hangers look like undersized?


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    I personally don't think any of it is balloon frame, and now regret mentioning it in my post above. As the others said, it is a method used in balloon framing, but that is all. I'm pretty sure the subfloor passes over the ends of those 2 X 4 supports. It would be the easier way to get er done, so most likely.

    IMO. the builders used short joists to save a few bucks.

    It's similar to balloon framing, but it's not. The center framing actually goes up about 4 feet past the sub-floor. Odd because that wall in the floor above is an 8 foot wall between a family room and utility room / entry. I could see the bottom of the top plate when I looked up between the studs.

    The studs against the exterior walls, were just that. Pulling back the insulation revealed a block foundation and the studs ended with a top plate at the sub floor.

    All the balloon framing I've seen sits on a foundation. These sat on the concrete floor with no evidence of a footing. I've never seen balloon framing on permanent residences, only cabins and hunting shacks.

    Last edited by Ken Rowe; 09-03-2012 at 10:27 PM.
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Balloon framing was the standard framing type on pre-WWII houses out here. Even masonry houses typically had balloon framed interior walls. I see it every day.

    I'll browse my picture archive and see what I've got for a separate thread.

    Mark Fisher
    Allegany Inspection Service - Cumberland MD 21502 - 301-722-2224
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    It's similar to balloon framing, but it's not. The center framing actually goes up about 4 feet past the sub-floor. Odd because that wall in the floor above is an 8 foot wall between a family room and utility room / entry. I could see the bottom of the top plate when I looked up between the studs.
    Ken,

    You should not have been able to see that far up - there should have been fireblocking installed at the floor level. All you should have been able to see would have been that fireblocking at the floor level.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Ken,

    You should not have been able to see that far up - there should have been fireblocking installed at the floor level. All you should have been able to see would have been that fireblocking at the floor level.
    I think fire-blocking is the least of their worries with this house.

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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Ken, this confirms what you said, the builders of the addition were clueless and the design is seriously flawed.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    I think fire-blocking is the least of their worries with this house.
    Ken,

    Are you hinting that the lack of fireblocking might actually be a positive thing for that particular house ... ???

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Floor squeaks and drywall cracks

    Acknowledging that I can't see a lot of the framing members, but they sure look like spruce. I wonder what the lengths of the joists are. Spruce carries a good deal less than #2 pine. Could account for movement, cracking, all sorts of things.

    JLMathis


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