7 Telltale Signs That Your Home’s Foundation Is Failing
Foundation problems can lead to many other problems with your home. It can cause pipes to break, the roof to leak, doors to stick as well as many other issues that can cost a pretty penny to repair. There is hope, however. You can identify the warning signs that your foundation needs attention before its too late. We’ve put together a list that you can use to see if you may be experiencing foundation failure.
All structures can settle over time as their weight pushes against the earth. This settling is almost never uniform as the composition of the soil can vary dramatically within just a few feet. Obviously denser soil can withstand this pressure better than looser soil. Other factors can play a large roll in how a structure settles as well. Expansive soils and clays can actually push upward, lifting your home when water is introduced. These soil types will shrink as they dry out causing damage to structures both ways. This combined with uneven weight distribution will certainly lead to foundation problems.
In this photograph, we can see the effects of settling on a home by examining the drywall. The crack shown here is evidence of the wall settling more than the corner. Just to the right of the window is a load bearing wall that supports the center of the house. This is typical of a pier and beam structure with a center beam that is sinking.
Here we see the exterior of a brick house that has settled unevenly causing bricks to break and mortar joints to separate. The tree next to the house is not helping matters as it’s roots can push the foundation upward causing the same sort of damage shown. It is a common practice to fill these gaps with mortar but this is not recommended. When raising the house to it’s original position, these gaps tend to close. If mortar has been packed into these cracks, it will have to be carefully removed or the entire wall can buckle causing extensive damage to the brick veneer.
This one should be quite obvious to anyone as it hard to miss a huge crack in the slab itself. If you have a finished concrete or tile floor, these cracks can be flush or one side may be raised causing a trip hazard. These cracks may not be so obvious in carpeted rooms unless the separation is extensive. Again, these cracks tend to close as the foundation is raised to it’s original position. If these types of cracks appear in sidewalks and driveways, it is best to completely remove the damaged portion and replace with new concrete.
The door in this image was very hard to close and would not latch. You can see the unpainted portions of the paneling showing how much movement has occurred. Doors and windows are often dead giveaways that some settling is going on. Another common practice is plane or shave the edges of the doors so they will close and then moving the striker plates for the knob and deadbolt. This practice often requires drilling new holes in the doorjamb. Again, this is discouraged because once the foundation has been leveled, repair or replacement of the door and jamb will be necessary. It costs less in the long run the correct the root of the problem and avoid the short term temporary fix.
While this sign may not be as easily noticed, a plumber can perform a hydrostatic test to check for leaking or broken pipes. Also worth a mention, this may not be a sign but a cause for foundation failure. When this type of problem occurs, tunneling may be necessary to expose the broken pipes so that a qualified plumber can make the proper repairs.
Quite often, additions will settle unevenly with the original structure. The addition may not be properly attached to the house or it’s foundation may be of a different style allowing the two stuctures to move apart. The addition may settle faster than the house creating an uneven floor or threshold where they meet causing a tripping hazard. This can be seen on the far right of this photograph. Furthermore, if you plan to build an addition, it is advisable to have a professional foundation repair company come out to inspect and level, as needed, the existing structure prior to starting the construction project. Failing to do this can result in a nearly impossible to correct situation when the foundation is finally leveled.
This sagging ridge line is a typical sign that the center beam has dropped. This usually occurs with older pier and beam style foundations. The cedar posts that were installed when the house was built have rotted away where they meet the ground. Left alone long enough, this roof will begin to leak. If the roof has to be replaced, it is advised that the foundation is repaired first because changing the shape of the roof afterward could result in a faulty roof.
These are the most common signs and symptoms of foundation failure. This does not cover everything as there can be other indications such as a floor that slopes, gaps forming between baseboards and flooring, or even humps in the center of a room. If you are planning to buy or sell a house, build an addition, or renovate your home, have a qualified foundation repair specialist inspect the foundation first. These companies typically offer free in-home inspections and can provide you with an estimate to make the necessary repairs. If you are in San Antonio area, call Skillful Construction Foundation Repair. Our professionals have a broad understanding of most aspects of construction and can answer any questions you may have.
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