Whether your home sits on a concrete slab or a pier and beam foundation, it is susceptible to failure, but knowing how to identify house foundation problems in the early stages can help you avoid larger, costlier repairs down the road. Here are some things to look for.
Indoor Signs of Foundation Problems
Gravity and minor shifts in the ground beneath your house will cause it to shift and settle over time. As the years go by, you may notice that doors and windows don’t open and close as smoothly as they used to. You may also notice small cracks in the sheetrock. These are normal signs of settling, and they’re usually nothing to be concerned about.
Larger cracks over doorways, windows and where a wall meets the ceiling, cracks in ceramic flooring, and doors and windows that suddenly become so out of alignment that they can’t be opened, closed or latched may be indications of foundation problems.
Outdoor Signs of Foundation Problems
Normal settling can also cause small cracks in your home’s exterior masonry. Larger cracks, especially “stair step” cracks in brick and concrete block walls, large gaps between the exterior brick and door and window trim and vertical cracks in the concrete slab are all possible indications of a foundation failure, and should be examined by a professional.
In addition to the perimeter wall, pier and beam foundations consist of other structural members that should be examined. If your home has a basement or crawl space, you should check to make sure that the posts are positioned securely beneath the beams they support, and that they are resting firmly on the concrete piers.
If your home has a crawl space, you should check it for standing water and rotted framing. If you find rotted framing, probe the affected area with a screwdriver to determine the extent of the damage.
Standing water and rotted framing are indications of poor drainage around the foundation. You should check to make sure your rain gutters aren’t clogged, and that the soil around the home slopes away from the foundation at a rate of six inches per ten feet.
Get a Professional Opinion
If you suspect that you may have a foundation problem, it’s best to contact a local foundation repair company to have a professional inspection done.
Most reputable foundation repair companies offer free inspections and warranty their work. Warranties can vary from contractor to contractor, so it’s a good idea to ask lots of questions to be sure you understand what is and isn’t covered. For example, is the warranty included in the price of the repair, or will cost extra? Is the warranty transferable, and if so, is there an additional cost to have it transferred to a new owner when you sell your home?
When shopping for a foundation repair company, start by asking your friends and neighbors for referrals. You should also check online review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List as well as your local Better Business Bureau.
Finally, it’s a good idea to get quotes from at least two foundation repair companies.
About the Author
Lindsay Greene is the Marketing Manager and coordinates the permitting processes for Atlas Foundation Company, Inc., a family owned and operated foundation repair company that has served the DFW area since 1958.