The warning signs of home foundation problems are usually very obvious to the careful observer. Has the home’s front door become difficult to open and shut? Most people might think the problem is with the door. It is more likely a warning sign that the home’s foundation is moving. Most warning signs are cosmetic and gradually become worse with time.
The southern portion of the United States is most affected by expansive soils and the havoc they bring to commercial and home foundations. Expansive soils, such as clays, will absorb water and swell. When they lose water due to evaporation or tree roots they will shrink. Soils can swell and shrink as much as ten vertical inches under a commercial or residential foundation.
Many of the warning signs of home foundation problems will be located on the exterior of the home or commercial structure. If the roofline appears to be sagging when viewed from the outside then that is a sure warning sign. The interior portion of the foundation has “sagged” or “sunk” and the most likely cause is soil settlement due to plumbing leakage. Any separation of wood or brick from exterior window frames is another warning sign.
One of the most obvious warning signs of home foundation problems is cracked brick and/or mortar on the exterior. Many times these cracks will resemble stair steps and gaps cap be as large as several inches. The garage frame is another likely location for warning signs of home foundation problems. If there is any separation of the brick or wood from the garage frame then that is a warning sign. And if the chimney is “pulling away” from the home then a repair contractor should be called.
Another warning sign location that most people (and contractors) overlook is the water drainage for the air conditioning system. Often the drain pipe extends only a few inches from the side of the building or foundation. What will happen is that the area of water drainage will be wet and the soil will swell significantly while the surrounding soil has shrunk due to evaporation. The result is that there is a “hump” under one portion of the foundation’s perimeter and this “hump” will uplift the foundation, cracking it and the exterior siding.
Other warning signs of home foundation problems are located in the interior of the home. If the floors seem to be uneven or not level then they probably are. This can be easily confirmed by a repair contractor with leveling equipment. Doors and windows that do not shut or open easily or properly are another warning sign. Usually the door or window is not the problem – it is the foundation movement.
Another one of the very obvious warning signs of home foundation problems is the cracking of sheetrock. Interior cracks above doors and windows point to foundation movement. And similarly, cracks in tile floors indicate foundation movement. Wood floors will have more “give” and flex to a degree but any warping or other misalignment in wood floors could be a warning sign.
Any one of these warning signs should be cause to call an experienced foundation repair contractor in your area. Delays are not advisable because the damage can become worse.
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