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What Are the Signs of Foundation Problems?

Oct 5, 2012 • By Matthew Stock with Barry Schilling.

Most houses will undergo a slight amount of movement in their foundations.  Maybe it’s settling or minor shifting, but as long as it’s small, it may not be a big worry. 

As with all signs of foundation movement, the signs of minor settling or shifting will be above ground and will be seen on the interior of the home.  Most homeowners have seen small cracks in drywall (or more and more rarely, plaster) on the inside of their homes that indicate something has moved.  The will usually start at an upper corner of a door or window and radiate at an angle toward the ceiling, or they might start under a larger window and head in a more-or-less straight line toward the floor.

If these are the only signs of foundation movement you ever see, your home will be good as new with a few minor repairs.

However, there are other signs of foundation movement that may indicate more serious structural foundation damage that should be repaired.

Interior Signs of Foundation Settling

  • Doors that will not open or close properly or that have gaps between the door and the jamb, particularly at the top.
  • Windows that stick shut (or open) and require a great deal of effort to open or close.
  • Moldings or trim pieces that pop off walls or go out of alignment, especially around doors or windows.

Exterior Signs of Structural Foundation Damage

  • “Step” cracks in exterior brick or stone work, where cracks move in a stair-like pattern through mortar joints, often with significant separation.
  • Open gaps around doors or windows where exterior brick, stone or siding has pulled away.
  • Fascia board or other applied moldings pulled away from exterior walls.
  • Chimney is cracked, tilted or leaning off plumb.

Signs in the Basement of Foundation Sinking

  • Cracks have appeared in poured concrete walls.  Serious damage is indicated by angled cracks reaching down from the upper corners of a wall, often accompanied by a vertical crack in the middle.
  • Concrete block walls have bowed or bulged, usually near the middle.  This will be accompanied by cracking of mortar joints.
  • Water seepage.  This is not always a sign of serious foundation damage but is almost always present when serious damage does occur.
  • Misalignment between foundation walls and framing of the house.  Foundation walls that move away from the sill plate at the base of the home can often be spotted from either the basement or outdoors.

If you see one of more of these signs, you likely have a problem with your foundation that will need repair.  At U.S. Waterproofing, we know foundations and can recommend the best and most cost-effective repair, whether it is to stop the infiltration of water or to shore up a sagging foundation under your home.  More than 300,000 customers have taken our advice since 1957 so why not ask for it, too.  It’s always free.

Tags: foundation damage, foundation repairs, signs of foundation problems

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