It’s natural to seek information when you’re worried that your home may have foundation problems.
Ideally, you’ll get an estimate from a professional that will help you understand whether or not your home is in danger–and how much it will cost to fix.
But there are several steps you can take to inform yourself prior to that.
Every house can expect to settle about one inch within the first few years of its construction.
Even after that, a home’s foundation is rarely static, and some shifting is inevitable. Most of it doesn’t indicate that there’s a major problem.
Additionally, some homes may experience foundation heave. This is the opposite of settlement when the soil beneath your home expands.
When settlement or heave is more than an inch or is happening very fast, there is some cause for concern.
Uneven settlement or heave can also be a problem. Uneven settlement leaves one side of your house higher than the other, which may cause shear force on the structural elements of your home.
If you suspect that you have foundation problems, you should call an expert to have them come out and take a look.
There’s a lot of misinformation about what is and is not a sign of foundation problems. Generally speaking, there are four things to look out for–all of them related to your home not being “level” throughout.
Cracks in your wall are a sign of foundation problems, but they’re not always a sign that something is seriously wrong. Foundation-related cracking includes
If you notice these, they may still be superficial, and a professional will help you understand them. If you notice them getting bigger over time, you should contact a professional immediately.
If you can see the cracks getting bigger in real time, you should evacuate the building.
No house is perfectly level, and most homes will settle about an inch. Any floors uneven by less than that is normally not indicative of a major foundation problem.
If you can feel the uneven foundation as you walk around your home, a professional can help.
As your house settles, doors and windows will no longer be plumb. This can lead to sticking. You may be unable to close or open these doors and windows at all.
Generally speaking, a single door or window isn’t an immediate cause for alarm. If you have multiple throughout your home, you should call a professional.
If you have a foundation problem, cabinets, bookshelves, desks, and other built-in features will begin to pull away from the wall.
This is from built-ins coming out-of-level with the rest of the home and is a good sign that you may have a foundation problem.
Minor foundation settlement may result in cracks. If the problem doesn’t get any worse, these cosmetic fixes can be fixed without treating the foundation itself.
Homeowners should prioritize sealing up exterior cracks before interior ones, since those may let in bugs and moisture, both of which may cause structural problems.
For driveways, garages, and other concrete structures, it’s possible that you can use polyurethane foam to level mild foundation problems.
This is an almost-permanent solution only useful in specific cases, but it is cost-effective and can limit further problems from developing.
Piers are a permanent solution to almost all foundation problems affecting the interior of your home. They are concrete structures placed below your home’s foundation that “jack” the house up and keep it there.
If what caused the original foundation problem is treated, piers will ensure that your home is protected from further damage.
In East Texas, water causes almost every single foundation problem we see. Protecting your home–and the soil it sits on–from water intrusion is the single best way to protect your foundation.
Keeping your gutters in good working order will help prevent standing water from areas where you don’t want it. Standing water can seep beneath your house and expand the soil.
Downspouts should divert water away from your home. They should also have splash blocks and, preferably, should drain 6 feet away from your home.
Ensuring that your property drains is essential to protecting your foundation. If there’s standing water around your home after a storm, you’ll need to address that.
French drains, improving the slope & grade–even planting a rain barrel–can help improve the drainage around your home.
If pipes are running beneath your home, it’s essential to keep an eye on them. A leak–even a small one–can flood the ground beneath your home and cause a drainage problem.
Perform regular checks around your house to ensure that your pipes function properly. If they don’t, contact a licensed plumber.
Planting trees close to your home can cause foundation problems. Trees have extensive root systems that can reach under your home and crack a foundation.
You can install root barriers around your home if you already have trees close to it. When planting new trees, ensure they’re at least 20 feet away from your home’s foundation.
We pride ourselves on our expertise and ability to get to our customers quickly. If you suspect that your home’s foundation has problems, contact us today to schedule an inspection.
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