Knowing the early warning signs of foundation troubles can head off problems that could ultimately cost thousands of dollars to repair. The sooner they are identified, the easier, and less expensive the repair could be.
As is the case in most instances, foundation troubles can mimic conditions that are not any cause for concern. For instance, do brick cracks or that little crack in the basement wall add up to nothing much, or is it a sign that the house is sinking into the earth? Other signs are not even near the foundation, such as door frame/window frame separation from brick or doors out of square.
In most cases, only a trained professional knows whether or not there’s a problem with the foundation that needs to be addressed right away.
Any structure, be it a place of business or a home, settles over time. A little bit of unevenness isn’t cause for panic, though it’s important to be alert to a few signs that more dramatic chances could be taking place.
- Exterior Cracks
Fine, small cracks in the exterior walls or on the steps are usually nothing to worry about. Exterior cracks that are large and have a zig-zag pattern may be a sign that there’s something wrong with the foundation. Brick cracks or bricks that are protruding from the wall should be checked.
- Interior Sheetrock Cracks
You should suspect a problem when the interior sheetrock cracks are zig-zagging and run nearly the height of the wall. They should also call in a contractor if wallpaper is pulling away from the wall and if there are cracks at the junction of the wall and the ceiling.
- Doors Out of Square and Uneven Floors
Very few structures are plumb after a few years of settling, but a door that is really out of square and has cracks in the wall above it should be looked at. Many owners of otherwise sound structures have such uneven floors shown only when some water is spilled, and it rolls in one direction. You should be worried if the gradient of the floor is more than one or two inches every 15 feet.
- Door Frame/Window Frame Separation from Brick
A window or door frame that’s pulling away from the brick wall is a serious sign that the foundation is in trouble.
- Rotten Wood – Pier & Beams
Piers and beams that have rotten wood can be signs of several things besides a bad foundation, and all of these things need to be examined. The humidity of the basement or crawlspace can be too high, there’s been a flood, or the piers and beams have been attacked by termites or carpenter ants. Rotten wood is never a good sign.
- Bouncing floors – Rotten Wood
Bouncing floors – rotten wood can also be a sign of some other dire thing besides foundation trouble. If the floors feel like trampolines, they should be carefully inspected.
- Tile Cracks
Though tiles fired at high temperatures are quite hard, they’re also brittle. Many things can cause tile cracks. If there are too many tile cracks in the kitchen, bathroom or wherever they are, this might be a sign of foundation trouble.
- Expansion Joint Separation
The expansion joint is installed in a structure to compensate for movement caused by the shifting of the earth, changes in the temperature, humidity, wind and other events. A failing foundation can cause such expansion that the joint fails, which can cause widespread cracking. Conversely, a failing expansion joint can cause the foundation to fail.
- Nails Pop Out of Drywall
Though the sight of a few nails popping out of drywall may be harmless and easily fixed, if it is widespread a professional should be called in.
- Walls Pull Away from the House
A building contractor should be called in right away if you see that an exterior wall is actually pulling away from the house. If this isn’t fixed, the wall can collapse.
Many property owners make the mistake of thinking that when they see foundation deterioration that it is simply a cosmetic issue which can be dealt with at their leisure. The reality is, that this cannot be farther from the truth. When left unattended, what may have been an easy repair can turn into a far more extensive issue with the potential of causing damage to the structure of your business or home.
As soon as you see any warning signs of foundation troubles, call EK Contractors for a free assessment, and we can put a stop to the damage before it gets worse.