Foundation Warning Signs
A home’s foundation is the lowest load-bearing part that holds an amazing amount of weight. For as much weight that’s placed on your foundation, more is placed on the soil under your foundation and, generally, therein lays the problem. As a guide, a single-story home weighs 200 lbs per square foot and a two-story home weighs 275 lbs per square foot, including the concrete foundation, so it’s no wonder why soil will give way to the weight and cause settlement. It’s unfortunate, but in time, all homes will settle. The key to preventing serious damage and high repair costs is recognizing the warning signs of foundation problems and contacting a professional to reinforce your home’s foundation.
Think You Have a Foundation Problem?
Cracking Wall and Ceiling:
Cracking is the most common sign of foundation problems. Cracking will occur when a home is falling out of plumb. All homes are built to be plumb– meaning that the angle from your horizontal plane to every vertical wall, door frame, and window should be 90 degrees. A house falling out of plumb means the home’s weight is no longer evenly distributed among its supporting structures. Cracking in ceiling seams, sheetrock, brick, and door frames are, typically, a result of being out of plumb. Rigid brick walls will be among the first places you’ll see cracking. Not all hairline cracks on sheetrock are signs of foundation problems, they can also be a sign of contracting and expanding soil. It’s important to monitor cracks because some may appear and disappear with the seasons, but if a crack continues to lengthen and widen, then you should contact a professional.
Signs of Foundation Problems: Cracking Floor
Cracking in your concrete slab or tile is another sign of foundation problems. This will occur when soil has eroded or underground voids have collapsed causing the concrete slab to support the weight of your home without the full help of the earth underneath. In colder climates cracking could occur because of the expansion and contraction of the concrete.
Foundation Problems: Sticking Doors and Windows
Another common sign of a foundation problem are sticking and hard to open or close doors and windows. Doors and windows stick because, like with the walls, their frames are built to be plumb with your home’s horizontal plane. So, when your foundation shifts, the door frames and window seals are shifting, too. This means your rigid, vertical door or window will have a hard time fitting into the tilted frame. It should be noted, though, that sticking doors and windows could be a seasonal problem and not a foundation problem. Certain building materials are subject to expanding and contracting in different weather conditions. If a door won’t stay open, it could be a sign of tilted walls, which indicate foundation problems, poor craftsmanship or failing door hinges.
Foundation Settling Signs: Separation at Wall and Floor
One of the more sure signs of foundation issues is the separation of a wall and floor. If separation occurs, you will see gaps in between the floor and wall. This is due to the foundation settling below a portion of your home, causing the framework to detach from the slab. Now detached from the slab, the wall is being suspended from the framework connected to the roof, while your foundation continues to sink. This is structurally concerning, because, as is the result in a lot of foundation problems, weight is being placed on a part of your home that wasn’t designed to bear that much weight.