If you’re like most homeowners, you probably don’t give your foundation much thought. You may make every effort to keep up with your home’s maintenance, without ever considering whether the foundation needs maintenance as well. We all depend on the foundations of our homes to be sturdy and dependable, but how can you tell if you need a foundation repair?
- If your doors and windows don’t work the way they used to, your foundation may have issues. Doors and windows that do not open and close the way they used to may signal that your foundation is beginning to settle.
- Cracks in your wall are a sign of house settlement. Don’t ignore cracks, whether they’re in the drywall inside your house or on the outside of your home. Zigzag cracks in a brick wall, for instance, indicate that your foundation is settling.
- Mind the gaps. If there’s a problem with your foundation, you might see gaps between crown molding and the ceiling. As your house settles and shifts, you may also notice gaps between windows or doors and the caulking around them.
- The ground beneath your feet should not shift. Ground that is sinking near your foundation could be an indication of a major foundation issue. You might also notice patios pulling away from your house, or floors inside sloping or sinking. Some sloping is not necessarily a problem, but if your floors drop more than an inch every 15 or 20 feet, you probably need foundation repair.
- Your interior paint and wallpaper may hold signs of foundation trouble. Sometimes, small, cracked circles appear on the walls, where a nail is pulling away from the drywall or sheetrock. The paint may shift away from the nail, or the nail head might become exposed. If you’ve got wallpaper and notice it starting to crease or wrinkle, pay attention. This is a sign of foundation problems, and eventually, the wallpaper will shift to the point that it rips or separates.
- Problems in your basement may not be strictly in your basement. When the basement walls begin to bow inward, this probably means the foundation is being affected by soil expansion. Wet soil pushes against the foundation, and as it dries it pulls back away. All this pushing and pulling can cause weak areas in your basement walls. Even if you’ve never noticed a problem, if you hear from a home inspector that there are cracks in your basement, it means you have a bigger problem.
All of these signs point to a foundation with problems, but what causes trouble with your foundation? Typically, foundation issues indicate a problem with the soil around your foundation or construction mistakes that occurred when the house was being built.
- Soil movement is often caused by heavy rain or trouble with drainage. When the soil becomes oversaturated, it can shift or erode. Some movement of the soil is expected, so building codes require that homes be designed with foundations that can withstand foundations that change slightly, but too much shifting will cause the concrete in the foundation to split or crack. If there’s flooding in your yard, if your gutters are clogged or your downspouts empty out too close to the house, or if the grading of your yard channels water toward your home, you may end up with foundation issues. Keep an eye out for excess moisture in your yard, and be very wary of any water leaking into the basement, as that may indicate that your foundation already has cracks.
- By the same token, hot, dry weather can cause the soil to shift as well. Dry wind and intense heat can dry out the soil, causing it to shrink under the foundation. When this happens, it fails to adequately support the foundation, which begins to settle. If the soil around the foundation is of poor composition, it’s more likely to succumb to these kinds of issues.
- Plumbing leaks are sometimes the cause of foundation woes. It might even be a leak you don’t know is there, perhaps in the sanitary sewer that carries water away from your home. In fact, you may not even notice the leak until the foundation has begun to crack.
- Poor construction techniques contribute to a weak foundation. It may be that the ground was improperly prepared, or perhaps the steel and concrete used during construction were inferior materials. When the foundation is not properly laid during the construction of the home, it’s sure to be problematic in the long run.
If you do see signs that you need a foundation repair, what can you do? You might not want to concern yourself with a minor crack, but it’s worth it to take action. Small cracks can allow pests and mold into your home, while large cracks can be an indication of significant soil movement under your house. If you notice a crack, measure the length and size, taking note of its location. Then call in an expert to come and take a look, so that a recommendation can be made to stabilize your foundation.
When you call Budget Waterproofing, we’re happy to give you a free estimate. We’ve got more than 55 years of experience servicing both commercial and residential customers throughout Maryland, and our expert basement foundation repair team is dedicated to helping you achieve a crack-free, safe, and stable foundation. We’re proud of our craftsmanship and confident in our skills, and all of our technicians are fully licensed, insured, and bonded. For more information, call 410.690.4970 or contact us through our website.