Central New York, Community

Should Central New York Residents Worry About Their Garage Floors Collapsing?

Video Transcript: Basements_26March2018Script

By Georgiana Volturo SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — On Valentine’s Day in 2009, Pietro Distefano’s wife sent him to the store to get bread for dinner with their grandchildren. When he got home and pulled into his garage, it seemed dinner would have to wait even longer.

This is because Distefano’s garage floor collapsed when he pulled in tipping his SUV head-first into an open pit which was once under the garage.

“It was very scary for me and my grandson,” said Distefano.

While this is a very scary situation, it’s also very rare, according to building inspector Tom Sherman of Absolute Home Inspection.

“I hear of about four a year,” said Sherman, “about one every quarter.”

Though rare, it’s also a potentially dangerous issue, so it could be worth checking out. First, you need access to the area underneath your garage. Every garage is different, so sometimes you can just walk in and take a look, or in some cases, you may need to drill a hole through the ground to take a look at what’s underneath. Then, if necessary, you can take action, according to Sherman.

“It can go anywhere from starting over with the whole floor, [and] replacing all that framing down there, to just basically sealing some of these areas if they haven’t rusted too bad, and being aware of it,” said Sherman.

A lot of different factors can contribute to your garage floor collapsing. Most cases have occurred in ranch homes that were situated on a hill and that were at least 40 years old.

Houses like this often had garages that were built over a large hole. A few steel beams would hold up a slab of concrete that then held the cars in the garage. What really made these steel beams dangerous, though, was the erosion caused by moisture and road salt.

“It’s huge, yeah,” said Sherman. “Moisture, salt, steel; steel’s gonna lose that battle every time.”

If you’re worried about the status of your garage, there are ways of looking into the issue. A local building inspector may be able to tell you if there’s any cause for concern.