Taking care of the foundation of your property is the most important thing a property owner can do to prolong the life of their house. The structural integrity of a structure relies completely on a healthy foundation. Performing regular maintenance and waterproofing can help prevent most major structural damage that will have a costly price to repair. So, what should you look out for that signals foundation trouble?
When a foundation is sinking or settling, there are a variety of signs you can look out for. If you notice warning signs in your home, you may want to contact a licensed professional engineer to analyze the structural integrity of your property. Doing this can help prevent future costly repairs by repairing the issue before serious damage has occurred.
Some signs of foundation issues that need resolving include:
- Doors and windows that are not level with the floor; this may be caused by abnormal settlement of the building. The movement of the walls and floors misaligns these structures within the property. This may cause the doors and windows to have trouble opening. Doors may seem to “stick” to the floor and windows to become stuck.
- Gaps between windows or doors; gaps of any kind around the property are a good indicator that the foundation is moving. These gaps should be repaired quickly to avoid any water seeping in that can cause other problems.
- Dry wall cracks on the corners of windows and doors; these cracks are usually signs of differential settlement of the property. Even if you repair these cracks, you will notice that they come back. These cracks are usually more noticeable in the upper floors.
- Nail pops in the drywall; these are usually more common in ceilings.
- Significant cracking of the walls or floors; these are typically signs of the foundation settling abnormally to one side of the property and pulling or pushing on that wall or part of the floor. Cracks may be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or stair-step pattern. It’s especially important to hire a professional when you notice horizontal cracking on foundation walls. This may be a sign of serious issues.
- Movement of built-in fixtures like cabinets, kitchen countertops, wall tiles etc.; if built in structures appear to pull away from the wall, this is a sign that the walls where they are located are shifting out of place.
- A tilting chimney: if the chimney is cracking and pulling away from the rest of the structure, it could be a result of settling soils underneath it.
- Moisture stains around the foundation; water damage is a huge contributing factor in foundation damage. Moisture creates mold and other issues that begin to eat away at the materials that make up the foundation, consequently weakening it.
- Water in the basement or damp walls; if water gets inside your basement after it rains, this may be a sign that your foundation has cracks in it that should be repaired sooner rather than later.
- Uneven floors: especially if the basement concrete floors are not level its big sign that there is foundation settlement. Uneven floors in the rest of the house can be a result of various things; however, it can also mean foundation settlement. No matter the reason, getting a professional engineer to analyze the structure can help save you from costly repairs down the line.
- Bowed foundation walls; if you notice that your foundation wall has a belly, you will want to contact a professional and find repair options that work best for you.
- Insects or pests in the basement; if you begin to see more animals than usual being drawn to your basement, then that is a sign that you may have moisture problems and a crack in your foundation that is allowing little critters in.
- Musty smell in the basement or crawlspace; these can result from a crack in the foundation that is allowing moisture to enter.
What To Do When Signs Appear:
The first thing you want to do is make sure that there is more than one sign; rarely will there only be just one sign of foundation issues. Monitoring these signs is the second step; for example, if cracks get bigger over time its time to contact a professional.
Partial and small foundation repairs are much easier and cheaper to fix than major damage. Contact Sabio Engineering to help you find the best solution for your specific condition.