How can I check if a floor is sloping out of level?

Monday, October 1, 2018

Three Ways To Check If A Floor Is Level

Sometimes a floor feels like it’s sloping as you walk across it, but you’re just not sure. There are several ways to verify that a floor has settled out-of-level over time in either, or both, directions in a room:

1) Set a ball on the floor and see if it rolls, and in what direction. This is the cheapest and easiest method. A big steel ball bearing is best, but any sturdy, smooth-surface ball will do. This does not work well on carpeting or ceramic tile because the ball is stopped either by the texture of the carpet or the grout grooves between the ceramic tiles. But it is a simple, easy way to check any smooth floor surface such as wood, vinyl tile, sheet vinyl, and laminates. Set the ball at several locations in the room to get a good idea of which way it’s sloping. If there are sagging wood joists supporting the floor the room may even slope towards the middle. Bear in mind that most floors are not perfectly level and if the ball rolls a few inches in one direction or another before stopping it doesn’t really mean anything.

2) Lay a bubble level at several locations on the floor. A 2-foot or longer carpenter’s level is best, but a small “torpedo” level will do. Place the level at intervals along a straight line across the room to get a good reading. 

3) Buy a self-leveling laser level at a big-box home improvement store or online. You can get a decent one for under $50, and take measurements of the distance from the floor to the laser beam with a tape measure at multiple locations around the room in several directions. Measurements that are getting larger as you move away from the laser level means the floor is sloping downwards and, conversely, progressively smaller measurements mean it’s sloping uphill. You may want to make a simple diagram to plot your measurements.

   To learn more about the causes of sloping floors, go to our blog Why do the floors slope in this old house? 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about STRUCTURE AND ROOMS:

What are the building code requirements for notching and boring holes in a wall stud? 

What causes dark or light "ghost" lines on ceilings and walls?

Can you access or exit a bedroom through another bedroom?

What is the difference between a carport and a garage? 

What are simple ways to find the cause of a ceiling stain?

What is the minimum size of habitable rooms in a house according to the building code? 

Why is my garage ceiling sagging? 

How can I identify what kind of wood flooring I am looking at?

Why does my concrete floor slab sweat and get slippery?

What is the minimum ceiling height for rooms in a house? 

Why are there score line grooves in the concrete floor of the garage?

How much can I cut out of a floor joist? 

What are the common problems when a homeowner converts a garage to conditioned living space, such as a family room?

• How can I tell if a wall is load-bearing? Which walls can I take out? 

   Visit our STRUCTURE AND ROOMS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

Water Heaters

Water Heater Age

Wells

Septic Tank Systems

Structure and Rooms

Plumbing Pipes

Termites, Wood Rot

& Pests

Sinkholes

Stairs

When It First

Became Code

"Should I Buy A..."

Park Model Homes

Site

Shingle Roofs

Safety

Stucco

Remodeling

Wind Mitigation Form

Roof and Attic

"Does A Home

Inspector...?"

Pool and Spa

"What Is The Difference Between..."

Radon

Brick

Plumbing

Concrete and

Concrete Block

Metal Roofs

Foundations

Modular Homes

Rain Gutters

Mold, Lead & Other Contaminants

Condominiums

Older and

Historic Houses

Crawl Spaces

Mobile/Manufactured Homes

Building Permits

Life Expectancy

Clay Soil

Insurance

Floors

Insulation

Toilets

Exterior Walls & Structures

Generators

Common Problems

HUD-Code for

Mobile Homes

Garages and Carports

Flat (Low Slope) Roofs

Electrical Panels

Sprinkler Systems

Electrical Receptacle Outlets

4-Point Inspections

Hurricane Resistance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Home Inspection

Heating and Air Conditioning

Building Codes

Fireplaces and Chimneys

Inspector Licensing

& Standards

Energy Efficiency

Washers and Dryers

Electrical

Kitchens

Doors and Windows

(placeholder)

Cracks

Electrical Wiring

Click Below  

for Links

to Collections

of Blog Posts

by Subject

Plumbing Drains

and Traps

Appliances

Smoke & CO Alarms

Aging in Place

Top 5 results given instantly.

Click on magnifying glass

for all search results.

Bathrooms

Lighting

AFCI, CAFCI,

DFCI, & GFCI

Sinks

Air Conditioner & Furnace Age/Size

Attics

Electrical Switches

Siding

Search

This

Site

Water Intrusion

Electrical - Old

and Obsolete

(placeholder)

Foundation Certifications

Tiny Houses

How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

About Us