Major cracks in a foundation are an obvious sign that foundation problems exist. However, there are subtle signs that people miss or that they ignore hoping they won’t worsen. Foundation problems should not be ignored because over time they will become worse. Search your home for both interior and exterior signs. Subtle signs include small cracks in walls and basement cracks inside that go from the floor to the ceiling.
Other interior signs are sagging floors, doors that stick, and puddles of water near a basement slab. An extremely wet crawl space, strange smells in a basement, high indoor humidity, and a very musty smelling basement are all subtle signs of a foundation problem. With a brick home, if there are stair-step cracks leading from the foundation, this is a sign of a foundation problem. Over time, this type of crack spreads eventually compromising the structure of the brick. Interior signs are drywall and plaster cracks that run diagonally along the wall and windows. Paneling that has separated from the wall can indicate an issue. Long-running cracks in hard surface flooring can be an indication of foundation issues. Gaps that occur between the floor and baseboard trim are usually interior signs that there are underlying foundation problems. Additional interior signs include fireplace cracks and uneven or sloping floors. Cabinets that separate from the ceiling and floor are interior signs of underlying foundation problems plaguing a home.
During severe drought conditions, the soil underneath and around a home can shift and cause problems with the foundation. This condition causes cracks in the cement foundation resulting in severe vertical and horizontal cracks in the walls of a home. Deep cracks can run up the walls and across the ceiling. The process of swelling and shrinking soil can bow brick veneer and cause the brick ties to pull away from the framing. Separating and cracking brick mortar is an exterior sign. This, in turn, causes the exterior brick veneer to pull away from the home. The brick veneer will separate around windows and door frames creating visible cracks.
Another exterior sign is when a patio or porch separates from the home. If the chimney leans and the roofline is uneven, these are exterior signs. Eventually, expensive framing, plumbing, and roof problems will occur which begin with serious foundation issues. Poor soil compaction causes foundation cracks. Plumbing leaks and water under the foundation slab will lead to additional problems. Foundation problems occur with older homes and they can happen with poorly constructed newer homes. With new houses, foundation problems can occur within a five-year period. Hiring licensed reputable contractors to lay a solid foundation can help with avoiding future foundation and structural issues.
Some foundation problems are superficial and repairable. Other problems run deeper and are more severe. They require an in-depth foundation review and the help of foundation repair experts. Before hiring a foundation repair company, obtain several written estimates and check all references. Check their reputation with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).