Leaning Garage – 5 Main Causes & Fixing Guide

Leaning Garage – 5 Main Causes & Fixing Guide

My garage is leaning

A garage is a vital structure in every home. Not only does it shield our vehicles from precipitation, but it also protects vehicles from theft and defacement. Other people use it as a storage facility for farm equipment, and much more.

However, just like your home, a garage is also faced with several challenges in overtime. Some of them include leaning, sinking, damaged garage door, sticking doors & windows, damaged flooring, and malfunctioning garage door opener.

In this post, our focus is on leaning garage, its causes, and how to fix them. If you own a detached wooden garage, there is a chance that you’ve experienced leaning. Garage leaning is common with wooden garages than any other type.

1. Poorly Built Garage/ Outdated Garage

The main cause of garage leaning is poor installation. Some contractors set up the garage without proper excavation. As a result, it leads to various challenges, and garage leaning is one of them.

Also, how the garage is built is crucial. For instance, it was normal to build a garage directly on the ground in the 20th century.

Therefore, if your garage was built when there were no building codes, it may lack a foundation under the walls. Such garages tend to lean as they don’t have enough support.

How To Repair It

When building a garage, you should start by excavating the area. This allows you to compact soil properly. And if the garage was built several decades ago and lacks building codes, you need to support it so that it does not fall off.

Unlike today’s garages, old garages have undersized wall studs and rafters, according to today’s standards. Also, there are no diagonal corner braces to support the structure adequately.

But with simple tools, you can strengthen your old garage instead of demolishing it and building a new one.

Some of the tools you will need are screw eyes, ratcheting cable hoists, steel/wood stakes, a hammer, an electric drill, a circular saw, and a carpenter’s level.

2. Termite Damage

Don’t be surprised if you find termites are causing your garage to lean to one side. This is more common in wooden garages. Termites may be small but work together. These pesky creatures will destroy your property and leave you with huge losses and repairs.

If they chew one side of your wooden garage, it will lean. The problem is that they do not warn you at all.

Apart from attacking your garage’s support beams, you should also inspect ceiling joints, floor joists, and wall studs.

According to the National Pest Management Association, they estimate that termites cause more than $5 billion in damages in the U.S.A every year. Unfortunately, homeowner insurance policies don’t usually cover termite damage.

How To Repair It

As much as termites are destructive, you can deal with them before they destroy your garage completely. Some of the signs of termites include a pile of sawdust, hollow wood, swam of termites, mud tubes, swollen floors, and discarded termite wings.

If these ants have destroyed a small portion, you can remove the damaged wood and replace it.

Alternatively, you can attach new wood on the damaged wood. Before replacing the wood, you should eliminate the termites using poisoned bait, liquid termite barrier, diatomaceous earth, direct chemical treatment, or even boric acid.

If you don’t have plumbing skills, contact a plumber to help you out.

Leaning Garage

3. Soil Replacement

A garage may also lean if it’s built on expansive soil. Unlike normal soil, expansive soil contains a high content of expansive minerals that can form deep cracks in drier seasons. Hence, if your garage is built on expansive soil, it may lean when the soil beneath it swells or shrinks.

The level at which your garage leans will depend on how deep the underground foundation is built. Also, the amount of moisture or water taken in will play a part.

How To Repair It

Repairing a leaning garage because of soil replacement can be quite challenging for an ordinary person. That’s why you need to get in touch with a professional contractor to assist you. Even though you can reinforce the weaker side of the garage, it may work for only some time.

For this reason, it is crucial to examine the presence of expansive soil and treat the surface before erecting the garage. But if you decide to reinforce the surface, use backfill materials with lime or other agents.

4. Shifting Soil

Unlike soil replacement, the soil may also shift, which may end up making the garage to lean. Some of the things that make the soil to shift are heavy rainfall and winter’s freeze-thaw.

After the soil shifts, it creates a gap in the garage’s foundation. This may end up causing the garage to lean on the side that is facing a lot.

How To Repair It

The best way to handle shifting soil is to come up with an efficient drainage system. This will prevent water from becoming stagnant, so there will be no soil structure changes around the foundation.

5. Rotting Wood

Another thing that can cause your garage to lean is rotten wood. This normally happens when fungi attack the base of your wooden garage. However, it is rare in new garages but more susceptible to old wooden garages.

Wood decays because a combination of moisture and fungi causes it to decay. The affected side of your garage may weaken and lean to one side. However, this can be corrected easily.

How To Repair It

If the attacked part has damaged softwood, then you will have to replace the wood. This will help to prevent the fungi from being spread. But if the sections are very small and just discolored, you can treat the wood.

But first, you will have to dry the wood and apply a preservative that features borate or copper.

Maintenance is crucial if you have a wooden garage. This will help to prevent things like termites and fungi from attacking your structure. Keep the wood dry, and you will have nothing to worry about.

Precautions To Take While Repairing Your Leaning Garage

Find out the rules and regulations in your area for garage repair and installation. You wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of the law. Do you need a permit before making any repair? Also, you’ve to find out if an inspection will be done after the repair or renovation of the garage?

Repairing your leaning garage is dangerous. If you don’t use the right tools and techniques to repair the garage, you may damage the structure. That’s why you need to get in touch with an experienced contractor to help.

You don’t want to accidentally pull some wood and bring the entire structure down. If you lack the skills, get an expert to carry out the job.

Repairing the garage may be cumbersome and time-consuming. That’s why you should hire an expert instead of doing the work by yourself. You may spend the entire day doing a task that an expert can accomplish within a few hours.

How To Straighten A Leaning Garage

Before you start repairing the leaning garage, ensure that you’ve assembled all the required tools. You will require a pair of ratcheting cable hoists, steel or wood stakes, a hammer, screw eyes, a circular saw, an electric drill, and a carpenter’s level.

What’s more, several materials are needed, such as nails to be used as fasteners, and a box of Philips-head screws.

Step 1: At both ends of the wall opposite the lean angle, make a hole and thread a screw eye via the siding and into the corner stud.

Step 2: Next, hook a strap or chain on the screw eye and another side of the strap into a pole on the ground.

Step 3: Tighten the strap and pull it slowly so that the leaned side can straighten up. Don’t rush and closely inspect to ensure that the garage wall doesn’t split.

Step 4: After you’ve straightened the leaning garage, confirm if it’s level by using the carpenter’s level. The garage should be straight from the bottom to the top.

Step 6: Enter the garage and install diagonal corner braces. Every single brace should cross more than four studs. Then

Step 7: Fasten the braces with screws driven into each stud or use two nails. And when you’re sure that the braces are secure, you can untie the straps or chains. Besides, you will have to remove screw eyes and the stakes. You can continue using your garage safely and without worry.

Conclusion

Never despair if you notice that your garage is leaning. You can still rectify the issue and reuse the garage. Besides, you don’t have to demolish the whole garage and set up a new one.

After looking at the various causes of garage leaning and how to fix them, you shouldn’t have problems knowing what the problem is.

Before you undertake any repair or hire a contractor, find out if you need a permit. Also, you should know if an inspection will be done. You can now fix your leaning garage by following our guide or hiring a contractor.