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Is Your House Standing on Shaky Ground? 9 Warning Signs of Foundation Problems And What To Do About It

A home’s foundation is one of the most important structural elements. It bears the weight of the entire house and protects it from sinking, sliding or collapsing. Over time, foundations can deteriorate due to various factors like soil conditions, water damage, or natural disasters. As a homeowner, it’s important to keep an eye out for any possible foundation problems. Here are 9 warning signs that could indicate issues with your foundation and what you should do about it.

9 Warning Signs Of Foundation Problems

  1. Exterior Wall Developing Cracks
    Small cracks in exterior walls are a normal part of aging for any home. However, certain types of cracks should raise red flags regarding your foundation’s integrity. Zigzag cracks that branch out from a single starting point instead of running straight up and down warn of serious shifting or sinking. Similarly, cracks wider than a quarter inch are problematic. 
    Horizontal cracks and cracks accompanied by bulging or bowed walls point to foundation movement below. You should periodically inspect exterior walls for signs of new or expanding cracks. Films of arrows, tape or chalk can help you monitor crack growth over time.


  1. Interior Walls Showing Signs of Stress
    While interior wall cracks may seem less concerning than those outdoors, they too could signify compromised foundation support. Pay attention to cracks following corners or lines where walls meet floors/ceilings. Crumbling foundations contribute to diagonal cracks or bowed/leaning walls inside. Also, be wary of wallpaper peeling or plaster separating  as moisture intrusion through cracks allows materials to deteriorate faster. To stay updated, compare photos of crack locations annually for changes. If cracks worsen indoors, foundation inspection becomes necessary.
  1. Your Floors Feel Bouncy or Uneven
    Bouncy, springy or notably sloped floor surfaces present a potential foundation issue. Wood floors naturally creak some but shouldn’t flex up and down abnormally. In addition, concrete slab floors developing extensive cracking, rotting floor joists and foundation settling, all contribute to uneven floors losing their integrity over the structure below. You can test for bounciness by gently jumping in different areas or rolling a marble to see if it traces uneven paths.
  1. Cabinets or Countertops Have Pulled Away From Walls
    The unleveling effects of foundation problems can cause installed fixtures to detach from surrounding structures. Gaps opening up between cabinets, countertops or other built-ins and the walls they were fastened to indicate sinking or tilting of floors below. Check for new separation between these interior features and underlying walls/floors that could point to foundation subsidence as the root cause. Remember that prompt repair prevents further damage and potential hazardous situations.
  1. Basement and Crawlspace Have a Persistent Mildew Smell
    Noxious mold/mildew odors often signal excess moisture in hard-to-ventilate spaces like basements and crawl spaces. But when the source is minor surface/structural moisture rather than a serious plumbing leak, the root problem may lie in tiny foundation cracks allowing damp ground air infiltration. Check basement/crawlspace especially after rain/melting snow for musty smells that won’t dissipate naturally – this could suggest a foundation not fully excluding moisture as it should. Dehumidification alone might not solve the issue long term if the foundation is at fault.
  1. Siding on Your Home Developing Gaps or Cracks
    In addition to sagging or buckling, siding issues like separating seams or gaps forming around windows/doors require scrutiny of the underlying structures. Foundation settling pulling exterior walls out of plumb makes siding slip out of proper alignment. This separation from surrounding framing invites air and moisture infiltration risks that further deteriorate materials if left unchecked. Pay special attention when siding problems occur together with signs spotted on interiors too.
  1. Water Pool Around Your Home’s Foundation After Rain
    Improper grading should slant soil away from foundations to keep water from collecting at building perimeters where it can seep in. Ponding indicates negative grade directing runoff towards homes instead of shedding it away to downspouts/storm drains. Heavy accumulations of this water put unnecessary hydrostatic pressure on lower foundation walls over time, accelerating the risk of cracks, leaks or worse settling issues below if not corrected. You can check sloping with a water hose or rake during wet seasons.
  1. You Noticed Drainage Issues Around Your Property
    Along with obvious pooling, keep watch for hard-to-spot drainage trouble signs as well. Plumbing backups or slow drains could mean settling pushed pipe slopes off level beneath the house. Trim, siding or landscape elements showing renewed rot from persistent wet spots offer other clues your drainage system failed to handle water like it should. Problems here commonly stem from soil compacted against foundations cutting off normal water flow paths over the years. It is important to note that drainage solutions rarely solve the root cause without specialized foundation repairs.
  1. Certain Doors Seem to Stick or Not Close Fully
    As a home’s structure shifts out of plumb even slightly, hanging and fitting of doors can be affected. Sticking doors often signal foundation issues warping the framing they slide within. Minor sticking may just mean weather changes or could point to a larger problem if doors bind more over time. Check for recent changes in how smoothly doors throughout the house operate as a foundation symptom warning sign. Cleaning and lubricating may provide temporary relief but worsening problems likely demand more extensive inspection.

Should you be worried about the signs of foundation problems in your home?

Minor cracks occasionally appear due to natural settling, heating/cooling shifts or surrounding tree roots. However, larger, wider fissures extending along corners or diagonally indicate serious stresses. Gentle sloping floors feel spongy underfoot, while sunken sections nearby foundation are red flags requiring expert evaluation and sticking doors and loosened walls signal foundation settling unevenly. If you notice continuous drainage issues, this suggests soil erosion around the house perimeter too. These visual clues deserve addressing before serious deflection or instability develop further and attending to them promptly helps prevent expensive reconstruction work.

Why do foundation problems need attention?

A home’s foundation provides the fundamental  base for the entire structure. It transfers the weight of your home to the ground safely and evenly. When issues arise, it can disrupt the load balance and stability. Over time, unaddressed problems left weakening the foundation will only worsen with continuous stress. Stability and safety concerns for your family grow as damage spreads and moisture seeping in also accelerates deterioration, inviting further worries like mold growth. 

Ignoring the signs of foundation issues and delaying remedial works can cost a great deal later on. It is therefore advised to catch early signs as it buys you time for reasonably priced repairs before things escalate drastically. You should know that your investment is worth protecting too.

When Should You Call in Foundation Experts for Help?

If one or more of these warning signs indicate potential foundation troubles, it’s best not to delay contacting qualified foundation contractors for evaluation. Small cracks catching dirt and debris let water flow right in, so it’s best not to chance ignoring early symptoms. Foundation issues rarely correct themselves and tend to worsen with neglect, diminishing structural integrity while raising repair costs significantly the longer they persist. Professionals can accurately diagnose, provide options for remedies to prevent future damage before it’s too late. Avoid waiting until recognizable structural bowing occurs – acting sooner ensures safer, more affordable foundation solutions. Your home’s foundation inspection by one system professional oversight can help prevent it from becoming a money pit.

What should you expect from a foundation inspection?

Call a licensed foundation expert to thoroughly evaluate your home’s understructure. They will inspect the basement or crawl space for any visible defects, taking measurements to analyze severity. Outdoor checks include verifying proper drainage and intact house wraps while probing tools test the concrete’s strength and locate cracks unseen by eyes. The professionals may install high-tech monitoring sensors temporarily to constantly gauge movement. A structural engineering report afterwards details all findings professionally. Open communication clarifies concerns to set realistic expectations and reputable inspectors also recommend the right solutions matched to your specific issues and budget.

How do you choose a reliable foundation expert?

Not all contractors are equally skilled and so it is important to research qualifications upfront to avoid regrets later. 

  • Look for license validation with relevant certification bodies. 
  • Good companies tend to be affiliated with professional associations too for updated training. 
  • Read online reviews posted by past clients anonymously for honest feedback, especially comparing service quality with cost. 
  • Ask friends for referrals they are satisfied with. 
  • Quality doesn’t mean cheapest, but competitive quotes still matter. 
  • Meet representatives in person to assess communication style and response.

What can you expect from the foundation repair process?

Repair scope depends on your specific problems identified. Common solutions include crack injections to reinforce cracks, mudjacking to shore up settled areas, installation of piers/footings for extra structural support, drainage installations and waterproofing application. Expect preparatory works like removing furniture, accessing problem zones and installing protective sheets. The main repair works are then carried out with specialized equipment and skilled techniques to complete it within time frames provided. Foundations integrate complex structural facets, so allow professionals to handle technical aspects safely. They may also conduct periodic checks post-repair to ensure optimal performance of the repairs as warranted. Your cooperation minimizing site disturbance lets crews work efficiently with minimum disruptions.