Signs of a Bad Foundation
In some cases, the signs of a bad foundation may be very obvious. You may have been in a house or a building before where all of a sudden you feel like you are walking downhill. In most cases however, the warning signs may go unnoticed for a time. It is important to pay attention if a warning sign presents itself. What exactly are some of the signs of a bad foundation? This blog will focus on some things to look for in your home that can indicate a foundation problem.
Stair Step Cracks
When a section of a house is settling, it pulls the basement wall down with it, separating it and causing a “stair step” or zig zag crack to occur along the seam of the blocks. Stair step cracks are typically found near corners. If your basement ONLY has stair step cracks, it is usually indicative of a settlement issue. However, if there is also a horizontal crack leading up to the stair step crack(s), this is a different story. The next point discusses this.
Cracks that travel horizontally down the basement wall are caused by external pressure of soil. In Northeast Ohio, soil frequently freezes and then thaws, freezes and then thaws. Then in the summer it is dry and then wet, dry and then wet. Soil constantly expands and contracts. When gutters are clogged or not working properly, it makes the foundation vulnerable because the soil right next to the foundation will be heavier and wetter. The way a foundation is constructed also plays a part.
A horizontal crack is likely to be accompanied by stair step cracks near the corners. If you have a horizontal crack, take steps to have it inspected by a reputable foundation repair expert. Do your homework on foundation repair companies and look into their suggested repair techniques. Some companies will recommend a beam or some other method, even if the structural integrity of the wall is compromised and it cannot be repaired. Always ask the company if they pull a permit. If not, they are not adhering to standard building codes.
Vertical cracks that go straight up and down indicate sinking or settling of the foundation. The soil underneath of your foundation also goes through the expanding and contracting process. If you have a vertical crack on one wall, you will almost always have a vertical crack on another wall. During summer when soil tends to be dryer, houses may settle and sink faster than during colder times of the year. For companies that offer foundation repair, this is a busier time of the year simply because more houses are settling during this time.
Basement Floor Cracks
What if you have cracks in the basement floor but no cracks in any of the basement walls? Is this a sign of a bad foundation? Possibly. This could be caused by hydrostatic pressure or water pressure. As water builds up, if it has no where to go, it creates pressure, and may crack a basement floor. A basement water issue could lead to a foundation issue and should be monitored.
Doors and Windows That Will Not Close Properly
When a foundation shifts or moves, it affects not only the basement walls, but also all of the construction that sits on top of them. If doors and windows stick when you try to open and close them, this is an indication that the foundation has shifted.
Cracks in Drywall
If you have noticed settlement cracks in your basement, take time to inspect the rest of your home. Look at the drywall throughout the house to see if you can find any cracks. Cracks in drywall often go hand in hand with foundation settlement cracks. These types of cracks may not stand out as much because they may be hairline cracks close to the ceiling that simply go unnoticed.
So You Have the Signs of a Bad Foundation. Now What?
If you have noticed any of the above symptoms, don’t procrastinate! Take immediate action. If you catch a foundation problem early, you may be able to stop the damage in its tracks. If you put it off, the issue may become worse and therefore more costly to fix.
Are you concerned about your foundation? Feel free to contact us for a free estimate. If you truly do have all the signs of a bad foundation, we can present you with the solutions to fix your foundation permanently.
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