Signs of Foundation Problems
Damage to your home’s foundation is a big problem—but it’s not always an easy one to spot. Even if part of your foundation is exposed, it’s next to impossible to assess it firsthand and find damages without a professional. Thankfully, there are several signs you can look for that may indicate foundation issues on your property. In this guide, our experts at Align Foundation Repair cover a few of the big ones.
Read on to learn more about the common signs of foundation problems, and book your free estimate with our team today!
Windows and Doors That Are Suddenly Difficult to Open and Shut
In its ideal, undamaged state, your home’s foundation is level: totally flat. With foundation damage, that changes—and over time, that change will be reflected in a wide range of things throughout your home. Some of those things you even use every day—like your windows and doors.
Has a door that once swung open with ease started to drag? What about an easy-to-lift window that now sticks? These issues may be related to something smaller—like wood or paint expansion—but they may very well indicate a foundation problem. If your foundation has begun to move, your home’s walls and floors will soon follow suit, impeding the movement of doors and windows and making them difficult to open.
Cracks in Brick or Masonry Walls
Speaking of your home’s walls: they’re another great place to spot foundation issues. If you have a crack in your home’s brick or masonry walls, you may have damage to your foundation. Brick and masonry are much sturdier than drywall or paint—so if they crack, it’s likely a big deal. If they crack over windows and doorways—areas much more susceptible to vertical movement—it’s yet another indicator of foundation issues, such as:
- Foundation settlement. Over time, soil movement or improper soil compaction can lead to the foundation settling unevenly. As the foundation shifts, it exerts pressure on the surrounding masonry walls, causing them to crack.
- Foundation movement. If the foundation expands or contracts due to changes in moisture content, temperature fluctuations, or soil conditions, it can create stress on the walls. As a result, cracks may form as the masonry tries to accommodate these movements.
- Foundation water damage. Poor drainage can cause water to accumulate around the foundation, leading to soil erosion or excessive hydrostatic pressure. This can weaken the foundation and exert pressure on the walls, causing them to crack.
Something to keep in mind: these three primary foundation issues cause more than just cracks in your walls. They’re to blame for the difficult-to-open doors and windows mentioned above, as well as virtually every item on the rest of the list below.
Warped or Bowed Ceilings
In most homes, the ceilings are parallel with the floors—which are, in turn, parallel to the home’s foundation. In other words, they’re totally flat. When they’re not (and they’re supposed to be) the culprit may be your foundation.
Warped or bowed ceilings are a sign that part of your foundation has started to settle, crack, or move in some other manner. When it moves, it’s only a matter of time before everything on top (i.e., your ceiling) moves, too.
Sloped or Separating Floors
Between the ceiling and the foundation is yet another part of your home that can reveal foundation damage: your floor. Think about a sidewalk that bends, pops up, or cracks altogether due to wet terrain, tree roots, or erosion. The same principle applies to your floor and your foundation. When the foundation moves, the floor is sure to follow.
Take a close look at your floor and inspect it for signs of abnormalities. Is it starting to slope? This is a sign that your foundation is no longer level. (If you’re unsure as to whether you floor is sloping, use the same level you’d use to hang a picture frame—or simply place a ball near the middle of the floor and see where it rolls.)
If you have wood floors, take a close look at the joints. Are they starting to separate? If you have tile floors, feel around with your hands and feet. Are certain tiles starting to pop? Both are signs of foundation movement, slowly moving your floor like the earth cracks a sidewalk.
Gaps or Cracks in the Seam Between Walls and Ceiling
Have you ever tried to build a table, chair, or other piece of furniture where one part meets another at a 90-degree angle? If they’re not totally aligned, a gap shows. This is exactly what happens to walls and ceilings when a foundation settles or moves improperly.
An uneven foundation will cause walls to move to very slightly different heights—or worse, move laterally—creating a gap or crack between them and the ceiling under which they once sat flush.
Standing Water Inside the House or Near the House
Standing water in the house is never a good sign—and it sometimes, it can be a sign of foundation damage. Other times, it can be a sign of foundation problems to come. Here’s why.
The land around your home’s foundation should have a grade that slopes down and away from your foundation at a 3 to 5-degree angle. This allows any water that’s accumulated near your home to flow away from it, where it won’t damage the foundation. If you notice standing water near your house—or worse, inside it in ground-level areas like basements and crawl spaces—it may be a sign that your land is improperly graded.
Unfortunately, it can also be sign that your foundation has cracked due to hydrostatic pressure or some other form of erosion—and together with improper grading, it’s now leaking that water into your home or the area around it.
A Chimney That Leans in One Direction
Chimney looking a little crooked? It may be falling apart on its own. Or, it may be leaning because the rest of your house is leaning—all due to a foundation that’s cracked, moved, or improperly settled. If you’re unsure of the cause, head inside to see in you can spot some of the other signs on this list.
Buckling, Ruptures or Hairline Cracks in the Foundation
If your foundation is partially exposed—and it should be, to reduce moisture and improve visibility—give it a quick inspection to see if you notice any buckling, ruptures, or hairline cracks. (These may be horizontal, zig-zagging, or vertical.) All of these signs can be indicators of foundation damage. In some cases, the damage can be superficial and fixed relatively easily—but in other cases, the buckling, rupturing, and cracking you see is an indicator of a bigger underlying problem with your foundation.
Stoops or Front Porches That Appear Sunken
When a foundation settles unevenly or too deeply, the whole on top of it house does the same. To the untrained eye, this widespread settling can be difficult to spot—but there’s one place where it’s easier to see: the front porch, or the stoop.
Take a short walk to the curb and inspect your porch or stoop. Does it appear sunken or bowed? If so, your foundation may be to blame.
Exterior Walls that are Crumbling or Show Signs of Moisture Intrusion
Often a precursor to standing water, crumbling walls are a sign that water is moving its way from the earth under and around your home to the inside. This process takes some time—but if it’s happening on your exterior walls, it may have already happened to your foundation. And as you know from the sections above, a foundation with a water problem is most likely a foundation with a structural problem, too.
When In Doubt, Get Inspected
Note that it is completely normal for properties to settle over time, and construction materials are designed to accommodate moderate soil shifts. Hairline cracks in your masonry walls or concrete foundation are not always signs of imminent damage, whereas larger horizontal cracks are generally more serious concerns. Improper water drainage is another telltale indicator that a foundation crack has occurred, as this can redirect water to lower areas.
If you are unsure about whether an abnormality in your home is a sign of foundation damage, it’s best to get an expert involved. Here at Align Foundation Repair, our experienced team proudly provides foundation assessments and repairs to property owners across the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Foundation repair in Garland, Texas
If you notice signs of foundation problems, you’ll want professional foundation evaluation as soon as possible. For residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, foundation repair is cost-efficient and backed by an industry-leading warranty. Discover why homeowners throughout Texas have come to trust Align Foundation Repair when it comes to superior workmanship, proven foundation repair techniques and the highest quality products. Contact us today for a visit and we’ll be happy to provide a free foundation repair estimate.
Additional Resources on Foundation Repair Signs:
- HouseLogic, Identifying House Foundation Problems https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/home-maintenance-tips/understanding-foundation-problems/
- Realtor.com, Signs of Foundation Problems: Should You Fix Them, or Run? https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/signs-of-foundation-problems/
- Today’s Homeowner, Foundation Problems, https://todayshomeowner.com/foundation-problems/