One concern that many new homeowners underestimate is the condition of the foundation. Your foundation walls are a vital part of your home's structural stability, because they are the core of the support structure. You'll want to monitor the condition of your foundation regularly so that you can spot trouble signs early, otherwise you'll run the risk of cracks and other damage spreading and weakening both the foundation and the home's structure. Here are a few of the most common trouble signs that you should watch for and tips to deal with them.
Things to Look for Inside
On a monthly basis, you should examine the inside of your house for some of the most common interior changes that indicate foundation issues. Here are a few things you should watch for.
Wall Cracking - Visible drywall cracks in the walls inside your house are often an indication of foundation problems. If the cracks are jagged, angled or uneven, that's a sign that your foundation is either settling or shifting. The cracks occur as a result of splitting inside the wall, which weakens the structural integrity of the wall.
Floor Cracking - Homes that are built on shallow slab foundations often experience floor damage when the foundation is either damaged or settling. Look for any uneven cracks in the floor where one side of the crack is slightly higher than the other. Those types of cracks indicate that the foundation itself is shifting and uneven. If the cracks are level, that indicates expansion in the floor spaces, which typically need to be patched, but aren't a cause for concern.
Door and Window Sticking - When the doors and windows in your house start sticking every time you try to open and close them, it is often a result of the foundation shifting. The sticking usually occurs because the door and window frames warp due to the settling. Gaps over the doorways also indicate that your home's foundation may have shifted, cracked or settled.
Things to Look for Outside
Inspecting the exterior of the house is equally important and should be done at least as often. Unfortunately, many homeowners spend their entire external inspection process looking down. You should spend just as much time looking up, particularly if your home is multi-story. Some of the earliest indications of foundation issues are visible in upper stories of the house, not around the foundation itself.
Roof Line and Upper Window Frames - Look at the roof line and the upper story window frames. Any clearly visible damage that appears along those areas often indicates that there's shifting in the foundation that's caused the roof line to shift as well. In brick-built homes, you may see cracks in the mortar between the bricks. If the cracks follow a stair-step pattern, that indicates that there's separation, which is often caused by foundation shifting.
Foundation Surface - Visible cracks in the foundation are certainly cause for concern. If the crack starts narrow at the bottom and widens toward the top, it may mean that the ground is heaving under the foundation. If, on the other hand, the crack starts wide at the base and narrows down, it can mean that the foundation is dropping due to soil compaction under the home.
Tips to Deal With Damage
Any time you see visible cracks or other damage, it's important to monitor it so that you can determine if it's getting worse. For example, mark the edges of any cracks and measure the crack dimensions. Check them frequently to see if there are any changes in the crack length or width. If you see worsening in the cracks, you should call a foundation contractor, such as Safe-Guard Waterproofing, right away. If the cracks are stagnant, though, you can typically address them a bit more leisurely.
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