What are the signs of foundation problems?

cracks in a building's concrete foundation

Identifying Foundation Problems

As important as the roof is to your home, the foundation is just as important. Without the foundation, there wouldn’t be any walls for the roof to rest upon. With that in mind, it is just as essential to take care of the foundation as you would the roof. That includes keeping a watch for any foundation water damage and getting it taken care of. 

While water is good for the human body, it is not good for a home’s foundation. Water damage to a foundation can damage the rest of the house, and quickly if it isn’t discovered and fixed. How do you know when your home has foundation water damage? When should I be concerned about foundation problems? Here are eight signs of a bad foundation: 

1. Cracks and Fractures

If there is a cap in the foundation or the brick exterior, this is often from foundation water damage.  Cracks in the floor and walls, a broken, cracked, crumbling chimney can happen when the structure has movement and causes the foundation to shift. This can be from foundation water damage or soil under the foundation that contracts and expands. Inclement weather can often cause foundation damage too. 

2. Settling or Sinking

If your home appears to be settling or sinking, you should have a professional foundation inspection. Often, a house that is sinking to one side is from foundation water damage caused by busted plumbing or sewer lines. 

3. Upheaval

If the slab foundation of your home has suddenly risen in an upward direction, this is referred to as foundation upheaval, which can be from foundation water damage or soil shifting under the foundation. This upheaval will cause damage to the flooring and walls and make doors difficult to close and open. Exterior walls often start pushing upward and outward. 

4. Doors Malfunctioning

If the doors in your home are sticking, or won’t close/open properly, that is a common indication of foundation problems. As other examples we’ve listed, it can be from foundation water damage or soil movement under the foundation. 

5.  Gaps 

If you have noticed gaps around the exterior window frames, and around exterior doors, or the doors aren’t latching, you probably have foundation issues. Have a foundation inspection to confirm that is or isn’t the problem so you can get the issue fixed sooner than later.

6.   Floors Sagging or Uneven 

If the floors in your home aren’t level or they are bowing, dipping, sagging, you have foundation problems, especially if you have a pier and beam home. Uneven flooring can be dangerous for the elderly and small children, so getting this addressed as soon as possible is recommended. 

7. Dampness

If the crawl space or the pier & beam areas of your home have a heavy moisture presence, there is either currently foundation water damage, or there will be soon. Not only is the moisture and water damage bad for your home, but it will attract termites and other insects or critters that you don’t want to live under your home. 

8. Separating from The Wall

Are the kitchen cabinets or countertops pulling away from the wall or starting to tilt? That small gap they have now will only get bigger, so finding out if it is foundation water damage causing this or something else is important. 

Is it safe to live in a house with foundation problems?

If the gaps are minor, then yes, it is safe to live in a house with foundation water damage. While it isn’t an emergency requiring immediate attention, it is something that needs to be addressed soon. The longer you wait, the worse it is getting. Remember, water is an enemy for a house! 

Should I get my foundation inspected?

If you’re selling your home and a buyer is taking a mortgage to buy it, there will have to be an inspection of the entire house. If you’ve lived in your house for years and don’t plan on going anywhere, the following four things are indicators that an inspection for foundation water damage or other issues is recommended: 

  • Walk the Exterior Perimeter -Take a walk around the exterior of your home and look down the walls. If you see any bulging then that indicates that the foundation has an uneven load. Getting a professional foundation inspection will confirm the problem. 
  • Sloped Floors – If you’ve lived in your house for a while, you may not have noticed the floors starting to slope because it happens gradually. Take a tennis ball and place it on the floor in one room. If the ball starts to roll, then your foundation has a slope and you should have it inspected. 
  • Doors & Windows Sticking – the doors and walls will typically start giving you problems before the floors and walls when there is foundation water damage or any type of foundation issue. It is more than an annoyance when a door won’t close or stay open! 
  • Foundation Cracks – It can’t get any more obvious that you have possible foundation water damage or other types of foundation problems than a cracking foundation. If you haven’t noticed it from the exterior, take a look inside your house for cracks in the ceilings and walls. 

Is foundation inspection free?

There are companies that offer a free foundation inspection, but this is a service they can charge for if they desire. If they do charge a fee, the amount is typically discounted off any work they do for you. 

Who should inspect a foundation? 

There are contractors that offer foundation inspections and foundation water damage repairs. You can find them on the internet with a search for “Foundation inspections in my area”, and you’ll probably get pages of them. 

Can you fix foundation problems?

In most cases, yes, foundation water damage or other types of damage can usually be repaired. Techniques in the past for foundation repair included using materials like cement, concrete, steel, or wood being poured, pushed, turned, or forced in some matter into the ground under the foundation. 

Today, technology has taken the repairs of foundation, water damage, and other areas of the home in a different direction with trained experts, resulting in better successful results. Two of those methods are as follows: 

  • Slabjacking: Grout is pumped under the slab or beams and lifts the foundation or beam to its original and proper level. 
  • Hydraulic jacking: Also referred to as piering, this is done by driving steel posts into the unstable soil. Then hydraulic jacks raise and stabilize the concrete slab.

Can a house’s foundation be replaced?

Yes, if the foundation water damage can’t be repaired, replacement is possible. The process sounds simple, but it is a labor-intensive job, and won’t be inexpensive. The contractors will either support the house where it sits or raise the house and then stabilize it.  The old, damaged foundation is then demolished and removed. Once that is cleaned out, the new one and the house is lowered into place. 

home foundation under construction

In Closing 

So, maybe you’re planning on getting your foundation inspected, perhaps because you suspect some foundation water damage.  Once you find a contractor that does foundation inspection, what do they look for in a foundation inspection?

The foundation inspector will walk around the perimeter looking for foundation cracks and check the walls are flush flat (not bowed out). They will walk around inside your home looking for cracks in the ceiling and walls, along with raised or sunken flooring. A pier and beam foundation will have a somewhat different inspection procedure. The inspector will crawl under the house to check the pier & beams, making sure there isn’t any water damage. They will make any note of dampness or musty odor. If you suspect issues with your foundation you can get help by reaching out to our team at 817-400-7625.