By Shawn Kyles
Foundation problems can not only result in costly repairs, but also reduce the value of your home. By the time many building owners realize they have foundation issues, the structural damage that needs to be fixed is extensive. Inspecting your property on a regular basis can extend the life of your foundation by ensuring it remains in good condition, and reduce repair expenses.
Some of the early warning signs of foundation trouble include:
- Crawl space moisture. Water seepage is frequently the source of foundation problems. Inspect your crawl space for puddles or other evidence of moisture.
- Uneven floors. Floors that sag are often a sign of foundation settlement and other problems.
- Bulging, rotating or leaning walls. A settlement problem that can lead to building collapse.
- Dislocated or broken lines. Foundation movement can cause plumbing, wiring and utility lines to break.
- Walls separating from windows, doors and ceiling. The result of sagging floors and bulging walls. Also look for gaps between cabinets and walls.
- Wall cracks. Both vertical and horizontal wall cracks are one of the most common signs of foundation problems. Check for cracks over doors and windows as well.
- Problems closing doors and windows. Foundation settlement and other issues can make doors and windows difficult to open or close.
- Cracks in floor vinyl or tile. Caused by uneven floors due to foundation settlement.
- Leaning chimneys. Another sign of foundation settlement.
Water that seeps into the building from rain, sprinkler systems and other sources of moisture is often one of the main causes of foundation damage. When water is unable to drain properly, it will accumulate in puddles near the structure. Water can also collect on rooftops when there are insufficient or clogged drain spouts. Certain types of soil will also expand when wet and contract when dry, leaving a void for the foundation to settle into. Tree and shrub roots can also drain water from the soil, creating a similar affect. Another common cause of settlement is soil that wasn’t compacted properly under and around the building.
A foundation repair expert can conduct an in-depth inspection of your property to make sure there are no existing situations that need addressing. Someone that is skilled in fixing foundations will be able to analyze the location, size and pattern of wall cracks to determine if there are any underlying problems, and look for other indicators of foundation damage. Staying alert to potential foundation issues can be vital, and help prevent future structural trouble.