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. Poor soil conditions underneath the foundation can cause settling. For example, if the home was built on clay or compressible soil or if the 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. New Englanders should be aware old houses are also susceptible and may not have received proper maintenance from the previous owners.
What are signs of foundation problems?
- If you don’t have a basement, you can look directly at the concrete slab under your home 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 indicates that the materials are in tension, which means it’s resisting pulling or twisting forces.
- Doors and windows that were properly installed and no longer work properly are a easily identifiable symptom of foundation problems. They might of that may not close, scrape, show gaps, or swing open when not latched.
- Uneven floors are a common warning sign. A slanted floor 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.
- 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.
- Cracks may appear in floors 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.
- Crown molding also shows foundation movement when it becomes cracked or is displaced.
- Look out for 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.
- The core issue causing foundation issues is the water balance of the soil on your property. Pay attention to standing water around the perimeter of your home or drought-like conditions during summer because such conditions may require extra maintenance steps.
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.