Your home is likely the largest single investment you will make in your life. And unlike purely financial investments, your home is critical to your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your family and loved ones. So when your home is in danger, there’s no time to waste in getting it right. One significant threat that many homes eventually face is foundation damage.
Foundation damage can be the result of many different factors. In cold climates, snow and freezing ground can put pressure on your foundation. In hot climates, heat, dryness, or humidity can all cause foundation damage. Plumbing leaks, inadequate drainage, and soil compaction can also cause your foundation to shift, putting your home in danger.
Luckily, there are some telltale signs of foundation damage. And if you catch the damage early, you can greatly reduce the costs of remediation. If you have any concerns about the integrity of your home’s foundation, contact a TrustDALE certified foundation repair professional. Most foundation repair specialists will perform a free inspection, and you only pay if your foundation actually needs repairs.
Here are some signs to look out for that might indicate your foundation needs repairs.
Cracks in the Foundation or Walls
Cracks of fissures in your foundation, walls, floors, or chimney could be a sign your foundation isn’t sitting correctly. When your foundation moves, the resulting strain on all the materials of your home can cause cracks to appear. Often, the movement is the result of settling or compacting soil. Weather extremes—such as freeze-thaw cycles or soil expansion and contraction—and water damage can also cause a foundation to shift slightly.
When the foundation shifts, it can push and pull on your home’s materials, causing small cracks. It is normal for a new home to shift slightly in the first two to three years after construction. This should result in 1/16-inch fissures but nothing larger. If you notice horizontal cracks running through your brick exterior, chimney, or interior or basement walls, they could be a sign of more serious settling. Any horizontal gap of one-quarter-inch or more should be taken seriously. Horizontal cracks are much more problematic than vertical cracks because horizontal cracks indicate extreme pressure on the perimeter walls of your foundation, whereas vertical cracks follow the direction of the drywalls.
Interior wall cracks that run at a 45-degree angle are also indicative of foundation damage. As the foundation shifts, it pulls apart the drywall, which eventually tears at a 45-degree angle. Brick that makes contact with your foundation can cause angular foundation cracks as it expands. These cracks can look worrisome and maybe ten or even fifteen inches long, but they are typically not an indication of foundation damage. However, step-shaped cracks in your brick exterior, especially around the corners of your home, may indicate a problem. In newer homes, these may just be the result of builders who didn’t anticipate the expansion of the bricks. However, in older homes, they may be the result of foundation damage. If you see these cracks, it is worth getting a foundation repair professional to do an inspection.
A Sinking or Settling Foundation
If you feel like one part of your house is lower than another, your foundation may, in fact, be sinking. Left unchecked, a foundation or part of a foundation can sink two to four inches relatively quickly. In addition to the inconvenience of an uneven floor, such settling can put severe stress on your home’s structure and components. In some cases, this may even lead to dangerous structural failures. Also, if one part of a home is sinking, it is likely that other parts may also sink, though not at the same pace. As different parts of the home shift in different ways, the tension and pressure can slowly rip apart your walls, plumbing, and other critical components of your home.
When a home is sinking, you will typically see vertical cracks in the walls. It is important to catch this damage earlier, since the more a house thinks, the more expensive it becomes to repair. Sinking can be the result of inadequate planning and soil compaction when the house was built. Over time, the weight of a building will compress the soil beneath it. If the soil was not adequately compacted when the house was built, the additional compression could cause the foundation and the whole house to sink. Also, the type of foundation has a significant effect on how a house reacts to settling. Homes with a slab foundation, pier and beam construction, or a basement may all settle differently.
If you think your home may be sinking even slightly, it is critical to call a foundation repair professional as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
Just as a home can sink as the soil beneath it compresses, it can also be damaged by soil that pushes up against the foundation. Upheaval is most common in slab foundations and is almost always attributable to some form of moisture.
A plumbing leak below the foundation can create water pressure that pushes the foundation upward. Freezing and thawing ground can also put pressure on the underside of a slab foundation. For instance, when soil temperatures drop below 32 degrees, the water in the soil freezes and increases its volume by about 9%. This expansion can lift a slab foundation out of its normal position. Clayey soil, which expands when it becomes wet, is also a common culprit.
Slab foundations are notorious for their tendency to shift as the soil around and beneath them changes. A slab foundation may rise one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half inches, although even a lesser rise can cause significant structural damage.
If you believe your foundation is rising out of its place, contact a TrustDALE certified foundation repair company immediately to prevent more severe damage.
Doors That Stick, Drag, or Hang
When a home has foundation damage, you may notice that some of the doors stick or hang. If a house is settling, interior doors will typically stick at the top. Exterior doors stick at the bottom, scraping the threshold and appearing to hang unevenly at the top. French doors or other double doors may not meet neatly in the middle and may not even close completely.
If your doors are not closing properly or have issues with sticking, foundation problems are only one possible cause. Doors may also stick when they swell due to increased humidity. If you live in a particularly humid climate, there has just been a few days of heavy rain, or your area has recently flooded, humidity is the most likely culprit. However, if you notice other signs of foundation damage, such as cracks on the exterior of your home, sticking doors may be a bellwether of more severe damage.
If you believe your doors are hanging unevenly due to the foundation sinking or settling, don’t wait for the problem to get worse. Structural damage begins with even a half-inch of settling. Call a foundation repair specialist immediately for a more precise diagnosis. If the problem is related to underground plumbing leaks, you may need to involve a licensed plumber. And if the issue is the soil around and under the home, you may need an engineer. While bringing in these experts may add to the cost of repairs, forgoing their services could be much more costly.
Where to Turn for Foundation Repair
If you are worried that your home has foundation damage, you need to find a reliable foundation repair company to perform an honest inspection and diagnosis. Luckily, you’ve already come to the right place to find such a trusted professional. TrustDALE certified foundation repair companies undergo Dale’s intensive 7-point investigative review. Dale ensures that every TrustDALE company has a history of excellent customer satisfaction, performs high-quality services, and offers competitive pricing in their field. If you need foundation repair, contact a TrustDALE certified foundation repair professional today. And, as always, every member of the TrustDALE Circle of Trust is backed by Dale’s trademark $10,000 Make-It-Right™ Guarantee.