Architecture

How to Spot Signs of Foundation Issues

strong foundations

A house is as good as its foundation. Without a good foundation, a house will not stand the test of time. Eventually the foundation might crack and become uneven and this would then affect other parts of the house.

Knowing the early signs of foundation problems can head off problems that ultimately could cost you an arm and a leg to fix. Here’s how to spot signs of foundation issues:

 

  • Uneven or sagging floors

Old Floor

 

There could be trouble if your floors are out of level or seem to be dipping, bowing or sagging. Floors have a tendency to squeak or sag when pier and beam foundations have problems.

This is because slab foundations and pier and beam foundations are positioned differently. As such, they are affected differently.

With time, floors that appeared to be out of level may become uneven by up to three times their original level. At this stage, these floors are not only unsightly but are also very hazardous.

To avoid injuries, have the floors repaired as soon as you detect any sagging or unevenness.

 

  • Cracks on walls, floors and/or on the foundation.

Cracks on walls

 

Cracks on either the walls, floors or the foundation itself may signal a foundation problem. A broken chimney, wall fissures and floor cracks can also mean trouble. Eventually, your house may experience foundation movement. This then causes shifts and gaps on your foundation.

Not all cracks however are a result of a bad foundation. In fact, it’s perfectly normal for a foundation to develop some in the first four years after construction. However, anything more than ¼-inch gap on the concrete block walls could mean something serious.

 

  • Doors that stick or don’t open and close properly.

Doors

 

A sticking door is a frequent indication of a foundation problem. Exterior doors that stick are likely to hang down at the top or drag at the threshold. Double doors may hang incorrectly or fail to meet at the middle.

Usually, it’s a problem that affects all kinds of slab and pier beam foundations. And no property is immune to such problems, be it even a commercial structure.

Sometimes doors stick because of high humidity. This happens if there’s been severe flooding or heavy downpour.

 

  • Gaps around exterior doors or window frames.

 window frames

 

Gaps around exterior doors and window frames could signal foundation issues. You might also notice that doors no longer latch. A good signal is when double don’t align properly.

When they are not aligning as they should, it makes closing them difficult. Doors may also become impaired and crooked. Crooked floors may also occur as a result of moisture issues in the crawl space.

 

  • Slanted mortar joints.

mortar joints

 

Slanted mortar joints are perhaps the easiest to spot. They occur as a result of foundation shifts. Generally, foundation experts will use laser lines to check against mortar joints. If something is amiss, it’s safe to say that something’s amiss.

 

  • An unstable chimney.

unstable chimney

 

A cracking or leaning chimney may signal foundation problems. In most cases, a chimney is installed at the same time as the house is built. In some cases, though, the chimney doesn’t share a foundation or footing with the house itself.

 

  • Foundation upheaval in slab foundations.

Foundation upheaval

 

Foundation upheaval is when your house’s foundation has moved up. Foundation upheaval is the opposite of foundation settling. Causes of foundation upheaval may include frost heave, under-slab plumbing leaks, excess moisture due to rain, and soil that expands and contracts.

Generally, heaving impacts your home’s interior, the perimeter area of a concrete slab, and the outside garage.

Excessive moisture is the number one cause of foundation upheaval. Moisture can be trapped beneath your slab as a result of plumbing problems or heavy rains. Inspect your water bill if you suspect something unusual with your slab foundation. You could be losing up to fifty gallons of water each day. Sometimes even more.

When soil gets wet it becomes heavy. And the heavier it becomes the more upward force it has. Frost heave can also put pressure on your home’s foundation, which can then result in a foundation movement.

When you spot any of these foundation issues, don’t jump into conclusions, but rather get in touch with a building contractor immediately.

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