Asked on Aug 01, 2014

Our house is shifting… I need help!

Rachelle Morris
by Rachelle Morris
This is our front door. This started almost a year ago. We noticed it starting. I painted and redid everything and then this started. You can see (hopefully) that the decorative casing or framing (not sure what to call it) around the door has come off. The spaces are only getting bigger. It's also moving at the floor. I have no idea what to do or what the problem is. Any help and advice would be great! Thanks!
sorry this one is sideways, but trying to show how much of the shifting is affecting our front entry… way more at the bottom than at the top
at the floor
close up of what is happening.
  22 answers
  • It appears that the door is pulling out from the frame of the house. This can be caused by several factors, all of which have to do with the framing of the door area. If the wall that the door is located is a bearing wall, meaning its holding up the roof or flooring on an upper level, it may not have been properly constructed. Weight bearing down on the top of the door can cause all sorts of issues, from binding corners, to bowing sides and in your case the door being squeezed out of the framing. The photos only show the amount of the movement of the door frame as in relation to the trims and floor. Can you take photos of the entire door opening? Both sides. Describe the house, a bit more, Basement, 2nd floor or attic above? Any bowing of adjoining walls? Insect activity? Age of home? Larger photos without turning camera is also useful. IN any case, regardless of what you can provide, this needs to be looked at by a professional who understands proper framing and door installation. It can be something as simple as using to small of a nail and its not holding the door in the frame properly. But I suspect its something a bit more towards a structural issue. Is there any other evidence that the house is shifting? Nail pops or odd cracks on the adjoining walls? What about outside? Is there a porch with steps leading up to the door, or is it a simple walk out to the sidewalk without steps?
    • Rachelle Morris Rachelle Morris on Aug 01, 2014
      Thanks for all your help. I will take more pics and get back to you with all the details you asked for.
  • Tabitha W Tabitha W on Aug 01, 2014
    One of my sisters lives in Tiptonville (Reelfoot), Tn where small earthquakes happen everyday because of the location over the New Madrid Fault Line. You can get up one morning and the bedroom door won't close, but the next day, week or month it will. My parents retired there and it was ineffective to put up a cute border or paper on the walls due to the daily shifts.
    • Rachelle Morris Rachelle Morris on Aug 01, 2014
      Thanks. We don't love anywhere that we get even tremors. This started about a year ago and is gradually getting worse and worse. That would be crazy with the daily shifts.
  • Moxie Moxie on Aug 01, 2014
    Is the threshold (bottom metal plates) of this door attached to an outside deck or stoop? Is this doorway/area of the house by chance a closed in original open porch?
    • @Moxie Wondering the same stuff. What is happening is not a normal issue. Some outside force is pulling the door out of the frame. Pressure from above is my first thought, but pulling the threshold out if its fastened to a ledger board that is failing can also be the issue. Hopefully with her answers and additional photos we can figure this out for her.
  • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Aug 03, 2014
    I would call your local Enviromental office or call some kind of professional. It appears there is more than meets the eye here.
  • Patricia Patricia on Aug 03, 2014
    Looks like the foundation might be shifting or sinking. A cement pumping crew could fix that the easiest. They drill core holes and pump in cement under the house and it's foundation until the walls and doors all line up again. I did this for a manufacturing plant with hundreds of thousands of pounds of equipment in it. It worked perfectly. It lined up the ceiling and walls and floor and all we had to do is put in new screws to hold everything together again once it was lined up. It should be easier for a home and more cost effective than tearing down your house or moving it and rebuilding on an entirely new foundation. Insurance may pay for all or part of the cost to fix this problem. A poured concrete foundation or new block wall foundation won't permanently fix this alone, pumping concrete to shore up the out of square problem first, will fix it.
    • See 1 previous
    • Patricia Patricia on Aug 03, 2014
      They pump it into the area under the footings and the support members, they don't fill up the crawl space or basement. Also, if it us safe, check to see if the support members holding the house up are broken or soft? It could be those too. If they are, then you will need a structural engineer to determine the cheapest way to fix them. Sometimes they can jack up the house and support the broken member on each side and slide an I- beam in or two to replace them. If they are broken or soft, don't go into the crawl space, part of the house could all come down on you until it is fixed.
  • Sheri N Sheri N on Aug 03, 2014
    Call a contractor that you trust. This very well could be just the beginning of a major issue with your home. I would have him inspect your foundation for cracking. Many times issues like this are from the foundation settling and possibly there is a crack in your foundation and your front door is now out of plumb. I had a friend that had a more serious problem, her home was built on a slab and it had cracked, which eventually caused her garage to detach from the rest of the house. She called the contractor that built the house and it was many thousands of dollars to have it repaired. I hope it's nothing serious with your front door, good luck!
  • Katie Katie on Aug 03, 2014
    Do you live in an area where there is fracking; or where there are a lot of golf courses? Both these interfere with the water table which would in turn cause land shifting. I would suggest you call on a structural engineer to come take a look. I wonder if there is no sill plate over the door and it's it causing the roof to slump down, putting pressure on the frame. GOOD LUCK!! Let us know the answer this mystery.
  • Richard Beyer Richard Beyer on Aug 03, 2014
    Call a structural engineer familiar with your area to be safe. As others have stated, there's more than meets the eye here.
  • Bob335659 Bob335659 on Aug 03, 2014
    This happened to my home in Missouri. Please call a licensed engineer to do an inspection and full report. We called a company before the engineer that quoted 13000.00 in repairs... Engineer said no to the pillars because it wouldn't help unless it was much more severe. My door also moved. I had my basement floor leveled so door would close and some cracks filled. He made sure all of our outside drains were leading away from house keeping moisture away. I was lucky I was told to call the engineer or I would have spent the 13,000 and not solved the problem.
  • Margie Margie on Aug 03, 2014
    I would agree that you need to call a licensed structural engineer and do it as soon as you possibly can. This sort of problem doesn't get better on its own and the longer it goes the more it will cost to fix in all probability.
  • P P on Aug 03, 2014
    This has happened to our home in Missouri, USA. We had to call in structural engineers and a foundation repair company. The problem started with our front steps settling away from our house 5 years ago and we cut it away from our foundation then to save the foundation of the house from being pulled as a result. At that time we were told the problem didn't involve our house just the steps...we were told this by 4 of 5 companies we had come out for estimates of we thought the one company that said we did have a problem was just trying to get in our pockets. 5 years later we can't get our front door open at all and the settling is so bad we are having problems with all the interior doors and only had one way in and out of the house. It was to the point of danger, so we had to do something about it. Needless to say, our first call was to the one company that had told us 5 years earlier we did have a problem. Had we had it fixed 5 years ago it would have cost us $8,000.00. Since we didn't and the problem grew much worse it has now cost us $12,000.00 to date to repair half of the problem. We have to make another $12,000.00 in repairs to stabilize the remainder of the house. The problem is here in the Midwest we have clay based soil and we have had some very dry weather and it is not physically possible to pump moisture back into the clay soil once it dries out and compresses so over time our home began settling. The front half of the house was literally bending over the central I-beam support and had dropped a full 3 inches below the back half of the house. We had 10 piers place under the front 2/3 of our home and they had to pier it 28 feet below the basement floor of our home. Then they lifted the house back up. All went beautifully well and fortunately we developed no further damage from the lift process. The major cracks we had developed just a couple of weeks prior to the repairs were closed with the lifting and we had minor cosmetic repair work to do afterwards. The best part is: Should the house move again anywhere within the repair area all repairs will be covered by the repair company from the re-lifting and stabilization to any cosmetic repairs needed and that is for the lifetime of our home. This warranty can also be transferred to a new owner should we choose to sell our home. My only regret with all of this is not listening to this company 5 years would have saved me about $20,000.00 in the long run. I hope this is not the case with you, but please check it our sooner rather than later. Our problem was caused by too much hot dry weather and clay things that are not in our control. We were fortunate...our house lifted quite easily and responded well to the process. The engineer told us our home was well built and it had "good bones". What happened was nothing we could have controlled. Best of luck to you!
  • Soa271456 Soa271456 on Aug 03, 2014
    Yes call a structional engineer. He saved us $$$$. We had similar problems that started during a major drought. Turned out to be the oak tree beside our house. Unfortunately had to remove oak but stopped the shifting.
  • While the consensus is to have a structural engineer come in, and I would suggest the same. Providing the cause was from a foundation or structural issue. These guys are not cheap. A good quality local carpenter should be able to determine why the door has shifted and what will be needed to correct. He or she may suggest a structural engineer if indeed there has been some abnormal movement of the foundation as its their job to determine how to go about repairing this. But the first thing is determining where the movement is coming from and what is causing it. My theory is one or two things. Incorrectly installed, or a framing issue due to being a weight bearing wall pressing down from above. If the foundation was indeed the issue, the entire wall would be moving along with the door. From what I saw and read, the concern is the door frame has shifted. In any case. These are all great suggestions that our poster needs to hear. Keep them coming!
  • Fran McCarty Fran McCarty on Aug 03, 2014
    This is job for a professional.Hire an engineer because this seems to be a structural problem.
  • Neen Finley Neen Finley on Aug 03, 2014
    don't want to scare you, but you don't have a sink hole do you...we have those here in Indiana and Kentucky and there has been houses sink.Not saying that is your problem...Good luck on figuring out what is wrong...Sounds like you have a lot of good advice,,,,
    • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Aug 03, 2014
      @Neen Finley I was thinking it might be a possibility too. And one of the first things I thought of was fracking. It is a stupid practice but it goes on.
  • Bborowy Bborowy on Aug 03, 2014
    You can call your insurance company and they'll come out and do all kinds of tests. If you have clay soil, this will only get worse. If its something expensive to fix your insurance company will probably cancel your policy after doing the tests.. In which case, ask them to find another company to insure you. I'm pretty sure they'll do this. At this point you'll probably need to hire an attorney. Good luck. Also, if its clay soil, keeping it evenly wet will help to level the soil. This is my story as an ex-Californian! Been there done it.
    Do you have clay soil? High water table? Trust me do not call your insurance company, they will not cover it and furthermore hike up your rates just for calling. I had some really good carpenter's come in as my ceiling was off the wall (raised) it turned out the rafters needed securing as the builder did not bolt each one together. Was not expensive, thank God! Also a neighbor, who is a reputable Engineer wanted over one thousand dollars just to go up in my attic and look...If you have high water (wetlands) put in some drainage pipes.
  • Neen Finley Neen Finley on Aug 04, 2014
    i I have to agree with Kathleen..I don't think i would call the insurance either..If it is a sink hole or clay your value will go down unfortunatly..they do have jacks to level it son did mine.It helped but it seems a lot of people had trouble this year with houses settling and cracking walls.Even new houses...It's a shame..Good luck..
  • Rachelle Morris Rachelle Morris on Aug 06, 2014
    Here is an update! We looked into it more and as we looked and talked, we realized something.... this all started just about a year ago- just after my dad replaced the screen door. My dad and hubby did all the work and had a lot of adjusting and fiddling around to make it work. So... what we have realized, is that the whole door jam is coming out. It's pushing and working its way out on the one corner. We are not sure what to do from here, but will be chatting with my dad to get some ideas and if anyone here has any, that would be great too! Thanks so much for all your help and advice! It was very much appreciated! We can actually move the whole piece ourselves, but not quite enough to just push it back in... and we don't want to wreck it, so we will see.... thanks again everyone!
    • Sharon La Tour Sharon La Tour on Aug 08, 2014
      @Rachelle Morris Oh, Bless their hearts! it's hard to get a screen door to do just right when you install it. Hopefully it's not any thing really bad and you just have to replace the door jam! :)
  • What should be done is the entire door should be removed. This can be done using a reciprocation saw and a long blade. Remove the molding on the inside of the house and cut through all the nails. Be sure to remove any long screws used on hinges and locks so not to cut through them. Pull the entire door out, clean up the framing if needed. Reset the nails on the frame. Leave the nails sticking out of the door frame so you do not make a mess of the finished side. Reset the door into the rough opening and using long screws or nails with proper spacers secure the door, Once done use slow rise foam to fill the spaces and replace the moldings. Good as new!
    • Rachelle Morris Rachelle Morris on Aug 06, 2014
      Thanks! I definitely won't be doing this myself but we will find some help. Thanks for your help! Much appreciated!
  • Glad to help. I figured it was something simple. But its nice to see everyone so concerned chiming in with their thoughts and ideas.
  • Neen Finley Neen Finley on Aug 08, 2014
    So glad you got it figured out...I know that can be a worry..Good luck to you Rachel...It was so good to see alot of people jumping in with there thoughts..Have a good day...