How to Spot Foundation Issues Around the House

Foundation issues can spell real trouble for your home. Unfortunately, signs of foundation trouble may be subtle or unnoticeable to the untrained eye. If you leave them unattended for too long, these problems will get worse and drive up the cost of repairs.

We’ve created this quick guide to help you spot foundation issues around your house as early as possible. Here, we’ll walk you through the five common foundation damage signs and their root causes. Read on to learn more!

Foundation Damage Signs

  1. Obvious Signs of Foundation Damage

While many signs of foundation problems in a home are subtle, some are simply too obvious to miss.

For example, visible defects in the foundation likely indicate a structural problem, while horizontal cracks or gaps over ¼-inch could point to a deeper foundation issue.

That said, tiny vertical cracks may occur naturally as the foundation settles immediately after construction and aren’t a cause for concern.

Other obvious signs could include:

  • Spalling concrete — bits of the concrete flake or chip off from the foundation.
  • Mold spots — parts of the concrete surface that are affected by mold growth, which points to the presence of moisture.

If you’re unsure whether the cracks, flaking concrete, or mold spots are symptoms of a severe underlying problem, your best bet is to enlist a structural engineer to survey your foundation.

  1. Visible Damage to Exterior Walls, Drywall, Floor Tiles

If your home’s exterior walls exhibit signs of damage — such as zigzagging cracks in the brick, warped siding, or crumbling stucco — there’s a good chance these defects stem from a foundation problem.

When a foundation settles unevenly, it disrupts the load path in the structure above. This means that certain elements, such as the exterior walls, may lose the foundation’s support to a degree, while others may be subject to structural stress they were not designed to handle. This imbalance is what causes the visible defects you’re observing.

If you’re noticing apparent damage to the exterior walls of your home, consult with a professional engineer as soon as possible.

  1. Doors and Windows Don’t Fit the Frame Properly.

Sometimes, the doors and windows in your home may stick or be too loose because of weather changes. Humidity may cause the wooden frame to expand, causing it to stick, whereas dry air may lead to shrinkage that would result in a door being too loose and not closing properly. However, if you’re observing these issues year-round, regardless of weather fluctuations, the root cause may lie deep in your foundation.

Just like the exterior walls that lose support when the foundation settles unevenly, the rest of the home’s structure also becomes unlevel. This means that door and window frames are no longer properly aligned, so the door leaves and window panes don’t fit them properly.

If the foundation damage is severe enough, you may notice that door and window frames are visibly out of plumb. In this scenario, your cabinets and counters may also detach from the wall.

  1. Drooping or Warped Floors and Ceilings

When the floors and ceiling in your home feel soggy or warped, it may be because the structure supporting them is no longer level. The most likely cause of this is an underlying foundation issue — such as a foundation that’s sinking, upheaving, settling unevenly, or otherwise losing its structural integrity.

Keep in mind that another likely cause of soggy floors and ceilings is severe termite damage. A good way to discern whether the underlying foundation issue relates to termites is to check for signs of termite damage throughout the house. If there’s an infestation, the chances are that it’s not limited to a single floor or ceiling.

Likewise, you should check for other signs of foundation damage — such as cracks or uneven settlement — to rule out a termite problem.

Either way, if you’ve noticed that your floors or ceilings are warped or soggy, the root cause needs to be addressed immediately, and you should consult with an engineer.

  1. Moisture in the Crawl Space

Moist or damp crawl space could mean that water’s found a means of ingress through your home’s foundation. If you also notice water pooling around the house, there’s a fair chance that the hydrostatic pressure in the surrounding soil has caused the foundation to crack somewhere below grade, and that water is making its way inside.

Another possible symptom of this foundation issue is a continuous row of weeds growing around the house’s perimeter. If the crawl space and foundation are not readily accessible, this sign should be your red flag that moisture has found its way into the foundation.

If you discover that your crawl space is moist, you should investigate the cause as soon as possible. It’s not just a symptom of a foundation defect. A damp crawl space also likely means that rainwater doesn’t drain away from your home — which you’ll need to fix to prevent further issues with the foundation and moisture. Leaving your crawl space wet for some time is an open invitation to termites who love to feast on moist lumber.

Hire a Licensed Engineer near your

Home Foundation Repair Cost

The only reliable way of knowing how much your foundation will cost to repair is to get a contractor’s quote after an engineer has established what needs to be done. There are simply too many variables to try and estimate these costs without professional assistance.

That said, the average foundation repair costs in California can range between $2,000 and $25,000, depending on the severity of the problem and site conditions.

Why You Should Fix House Foundation Issues Without Delay

Foundation problems in a home can sneak up on you — they may show few obvious signs of deterioration, and the longer they’re left untouched, the higher the eventual repair bill will be. Since your home rests on the foundation, the implications of foundation damage can impact the entire structure.

Why Design Everest?

If you suspect that your foundation is in trouble, the best thing you can do is get a professional engineer to survey your home and find out the extent of the damage. Our engineers at Design Everest have over 15 years of experience in California and will be happy to assess your foundation problems and recommend a sensible — and affordable — solution. We can also connect you with a reputable, licensed contractor in your area to carry out the repairs. To learn more, contact us today to get a FREE consultation and quote.

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