A foundation problem is a homeowner’s most-feared problem because foundation issues are notoriously hard to fix. With other types of damage – wall, floor, or roof issues – it is possible to restrict the impact to one area of the home. But the effects of foundation damage will ripple through the entire home and affect everything in the foundation
Since the foundation is mostly out of sight, there is also a tendency for homeowners to not discover foundation problems until they have advanced. Even when a problem is detected, it is hard to know its extent due to most of the structure being buried in the ground. This is why prevention is the absolute best way to deal with foundation problems.
However, if a home already suffers from foundation damage, the next best thing is to limit the problem. All homeowners should know the signs that a home’s foundation is in trouble. Not knowing what to look for is the reason why most foundation issues are left untreated until it is almost too late.
Below we list the signs that will tell you if your home’s foundation is damaged. If any of them are present in your home, you should arrange a home foundation inspection immediately.
Frequency of foundation problems in your area
If, in the recent past, one or two homes in your neighborhood have had their foundations repaired or there is a nearby home with foundation damage, you should be concerned about your home’s foundation. The problem may be due to the nature of the soil in the area.
Homes in places with expansive clay soils, for instance, will be more susceptible to foundation damage. To keep your home safe, you should have periodic foundation inspections
Noticeable wall problems
One of the first places a damaged foundation manifests is in the walls of the home. A foundation that moves upward or downward will stress the structures resting on it. This stress can reveal itself as cracks in the drywall especially around doors, windows, and around corners. The cracks may start as hairline cracks which slowly widen overtime. The cracks may also become visible in the home’s exterior.
Cabinets separating from walls
If a foundation shifts and the walls move as a result, you may not see cracks in the walls. What you might notice, however, is that the cabinets in the home starting to detach from the walls. In the beginning, the gaps may be so small that they are barely seen. Over time, the separation becomes pronounced and the space between walls and cabinets becomes impossible to overlook.
Sticky doors and windows
Another impact of foundation movement is a misalignment of doors and windows. The moving foundations throw the windows and doors out of level with the end resulting in their affected operation. Doors and windows become difficult to close or open because they do not align correctly with their frame.
Homeowners may not connect this problem with damage to their foundation, especially when other signs are not yet present. But sticky doors and windows are a good reason to inspect the foundation.
The quality of soil drainage around your home can predispose the home to foundation damage. In homes where the ground slopes toward the home rather than away from it, the soil around the home can become oversaturated with water. This may lead the foundation to shift or crack. Other soil drainage issues, which can endanger the home’s foundation, are erosion around the home (especially if the soil is washed away) and excessively dry soil.
Given that the floor rests directly on the foundation, it is one of the first places where movements in the foundation will be evident. There are three ways floor damage due to foundation issues can manifest. The floors can become bouncy underfoot – feels like a trampoline when you walk on it. There could be small bumps on the floor; these happen as the soil beneath the foundations swells. Foundation damage can also reveal through floors that are uneven or sloping.
The chimney has moved
If the chimney is separating from the rest of the structure, there are two possible causes. There could be a problem with the construction of the chimney. Or the chimney could be responding to a movement in the home’s foundation. If the chimney in your home has moved, the only way to know the root cause is to have a home foundation inspection.
The house is sinking
This is a sign of foundation damage that is familiar to almost everyone. Hopefully, the problem should not get to this point before you arrange for foundation inspection and remediation. Every house settles into the ground after it is built. But sometimes due to faulty construction or the nature of the soil under the home, this settling is not uniform. Instead of settling at a uniform rate, one side of the home sinks lower than the others.
If your home is showing even one of these signs, you should have the foundation inspected. Failing to do so could cost you seriously. But even if the test does not show any damage to the foundation, it will earn you peace of mind.