Are you worried about the structural integrity of your house foundation? Foundation problems are common with 25% of homes having structural distress at some point.
If you catch foundation issues early, you can fix the problem before it causes more serious damage. Earlier fixes are often cheaper, so investigating the signs you notice can also save you money.
Check out these seven signs of foundation problems.
1. Cracks Throughout the Home
Cracks in various parts of your home can alert you to foundation problems, starting with the foundation itself. Some cracking is normal due to the natural shrinking of concrete as it cures. Those cracks are usually small and stay the same size instead of getting worse over time.
Diagonal cracks can indicate settling issues. They often happen if your house is built on a hill, and they’re often an easy fix.
Vertical cracks tend to be less serious than horizontal cracks. The vertical cracks can allow water to seep into your home, but they can usually be fixed easily.
Horizontal cracks appear when your foundation has structural issues, often from the force of the soil pressing against the foundation and causing it to bow. They’ll continue to get worse over time and can be a serious issue.
The cracking issues can affect other parts of the house, too. Walls, floors, and ceilings can all display cracks when you have foundation problems.
Hairline cracks in those areas aren’t usually an issue and are typically just cosmetic. Drywall and wood expansion can cause cracking near your doors and windows that are also minor. When you notice cracks, keep an eye on them to see if they get worse.
Cracks that are wider than 1/8″ or are wider at one end than the other could indicate a foundation problem. Horizontal, 45-degree angle, or stairstep cracks can also indicate a problem.
2. Leaks or Moisture
Foundation cracks can let in moisture, resulting in leaks. Sometimes the leaks are obvious with standing water in your home. Other times, they’re more subtle, but you can often spot signs of excess moisture.
Musty smells can be a sign of mildew growing, which comes from too much moisture. You might also see mold, but it doesn’t always have to be in the basement. Sometimes the shifting foundation creates gaps that allow moisture in other areas, where mold and mildew can grow.
If you suspect a leak but you’re not sure, contact a pro for leak detection services. Trained technicians can not only confirm a leak, but they can also find the source of the leak to determine if it’s a foundation or plumbing problem.
3. Door and Window Problems
Doors and windows can start sticking due to a number of causes. One of those reasons is a change in the foundation, which distorts the frames. This can cause doors and windows to catch, and sometimes doors won’t latch properly.
The location of the door can affect how it catches. Interior doors tend to rub or get stuck along the top edge while exterior doors tend to get stuck along the bottom. You might also notice that the door looks uneven with one side appearing higher than the other.
4. Sagging Floors
If your floors or ceilings start to sag, it’s a good indication that they’re not getting the structural support they need. The foundation movement can compact walls or support beams, causing an uneven distribution of weight. This results in sagging floor and can sometimes cause the floors to feel bouncy.
If your home has a slab foundation, you might notice the floor becomes slanted rather than sagging. They might seem uneven or you might feel like the floor runs downhill.
You can check to see if your floors are slanted by using a level to check it regularly. Another trick is to place a marble on a hardwood floor and see if it naturally rolls one way.
Tile floors in your home can reveal foundation issues if they start to crack. While dropping items on the floor can cause individual cracks, noticing multiple cracks with no known cause could tell you there are foundation problems.
5. Bowed Walls
When structural issues cause your foundation to shift, it can result in bowed walls. You might also notice that the walls don’t meet the floor or ceiling like they should. The bowing in the walls can be fixed, but it might return if you don’t address the structural issues that caused it in the first place.
6. Foundation Movement
Shifts in the foundation are often subtle at first, causing problems throughout the house. However, it might take longer for you to see the foundation movement itself.
You might notice that the foundation looks like it’s sinking. It’s common to notice the sinking on just one side initially, but you can see the changes on all sides if it’s left long enough.
Foundations can also move the other way if your home experiences foundation upheaval. Most common on a slab foundation, upheaval forces the foundation upward instead of causing it to sink.
As the foundation shifts, it can cause gaps in various areas of your home. Your exterior windows and doors might start pulling away from the walls, creating gaps. Double doors might suddenly no longer align properly.
Porches might start to pull away from the side of the house. On the roof, you might notice that chimney is pulling away, cracking, or tipping, which can be very dangerous if it falls off of the roof.
Inside your home, you might notice gaps developing in the kitchen. Your countertops and cabinets can pull away from the wall due to shifts in the walls or floors.
If you have trim or molding along your ceiling, you might notice that it starts to pull away from the wall or has cracks. This is due to the movement in the walls as the foundation shifts.
Spot Foundation Problems Early
Foundation problems can be very serious and costly, so spotting them early is crucial. If you notice any signs of issues with your foundation, investigate them immediately to make sure it’s nothing serious.
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