What causes foundation problems?
Foundation issues occur when the concrete supporting your home begins to break or shift in the soil, compromising the structural integrity of the walls and floors. Settling is caused by poor soil conditions underneath the foundation such as the:
- Home is built on clay or compressible soil or
- Soil simply wasn’t properly compacted before construction
The biggest cause of foundation problems is too much or not enough moisture. A drought or flood combined with poor drainage compromises the foundation material. Homeowners in the northeast should be aware that old houses are also susceptible and may not have received proper maintenance from the previous owners.
If you have standing water around the perimeter of your home or drought-like conditions during summer, you may want to have your foundation inspected.
What are signs of foundation problems?
Look around your house for some of the following telltale signs of issues with your foundation.
Cracks in the concrete slab under your home.
If you don’t have a basement, look at your concrete slab for cracks. If your view of the slab is obstructed, you may be able to tell by the presence of odd bugs like centipedes in your home, a strong earthy smell after rainfall or tile floors that crack easily.
A chimney that’s leaning or cracking
This usually indicates that the materials are in tension, i.e. the chimney is resisting pulling or twisting forces.
Doors and windows not working properly
If your doors and windows that were properly installed no longer open and close smoothly, these are signs of foundation problems. Look for ones that may not close, scrape, show gaps, or swing open when not latched.
One of the most common warning signs is a slanted floor. This can be easy to detect. Just drop something on the floor and notice where it rolls. Minor slants can be hard to detect in the early stages. You might notice an unevenly worn patch in the carpet where the floor bulges.
Walls, ceilings and floors no longer aligned
Gaps appear between walls and ceilings or floors as a result of foundation shifting. Normally these should have been covered by baseboard, etc. and shouldn’t be noticeable.
Look out for walls moving, rotating, and separating from house. One sign is extensive cracks in exterior bricks along a visible pattern.
Crown molding also shows foundation movement when it becomes cracked or is displaced.
Cracks in floors
Floors may crack for a number of reasons, so it’s important to determine the root cause.
Cracks in sheet-rock aren’t necessarily bad, but if they’re adjacent to doors and windows, it may be time to consult a professional.
Make sure cracks in tile floors weren’t caused by a sudden impact, which would be shaped like a spider web. Inspect cracks along grout lines to see if there’s an issue with the grout itself, if it’s crumbling, etc. Cracks that run through multiple tiles in a continuous line are cause for concern, especially if they reach from wall to wall.
Buckling basement walls.
Basement walls hold the weight of your home, and when stress becomes visible, it’s time to consult a professional to ensure your family’s safety. Basement walls should be waterproof and plumb, so be wary of cracks, and signs of dirt/water seepage.
If you notice any issues, it’s important to act quickly to minimize the extent and costs of repair needed. Acting quickly may save you from having to rebuild your foundation from scratch. A neglected foundation can render your home unsafe, causing you to lose your investment completely.
New England Enterprises specializes in creating secure foundations for construction, as well as preserving nearby plants and shrubs to replace once the repair is complete. Contact us today for more information about foundation repair or for a consultation.