How to Identify Foundation Problems and What To Do When You Find One
Foundation problems can subtle and easy to overlook, or painfully obvious. Either way, recognizing the signs of a foundation issue is important if you're a homeowner. It's also important to know what to do if your home has foundation trouble, whether you live in Rancho Palos Verdes or elsewhere. These tips will help.
Signs of Foundation Trouble
Many people first realize they have a problem when they see cracks in their foundation. However, not all cracks are signs of foundation instability. Hairline cracks less than 1/4 of an inch can develop when the foundation settles and shrinks. This is natural and usually not a problem. Cracks to be concerned about include:
- Horizontal cracks more than 1/4 of an inch wide.
- Stair-stepping cracks in the mortar, especially cracks more than 1/4 of an inch wide.
In addition to cracks, there are other signs that your foundation is unstable. For example, doors and windows that suddenly become jammed and will not open or close properly can be an indication of a foundation problem. This can also happen when moisture causes wood in the home to swell, so homeowners should talk to an expert before they start to panic.
Another subtle sign of foundation trouble includes cracks in the wall over doorways and windows, especially if the crack originates at the corner of the frame. Sometimes these cracks can be caused by seismic activity and natural settling of the house, so homeowners who see these cracks in their home should not be concerned unless they have also noticed other signs of a problem.
An obvious sign of a foundation problem is a leaning, bent or sagging exterior wall. The outer walls of your home should be straight and perfectly perpendicular to floors and ceilings. Leaning walls could be a sign that your home is dangerously unstable.
Often cracks in the basement walls, especially stair stepping cracks or horizontal cracks, are an indication that the foundation is unsettled. Often these cracks will allow into the home, and can cause flooding.
What Causes the Problem?
Homes often develop foundation problems when the ground freezes and expands, causing it to push against the outer walls of the home. Foundation problems can also occur because of flooding and poor drainage on the property. When the soil becomes saturated, this also causes it to push against the outer walls of the house.
What To Do About Foundation Cracks
Small, hairline cracks in the foundation can be sealed with waterproofing paint or sealant. This is a small, DIY fix that can prevent water from intruding in the crack. If the sealant breaks and the crack continues to grow, contact a contractor.
If your home is showing multiple warning signs of foundation trouble, contact a licensed contractor who specializes in foundation repair. If it is determined that your home needs repair, get several quotes from different foundation repair businesses. Getting quotes from multiple professionals can help you gauge how much the home repair should cost. Meeting with multiple contractors can also help you find a professional with whom you can effectively communicate.
Repairing your home can help improve its value while also preventing problems around the house. If you're thinking about selling or remodeling your home in the future, making foundation repairs can help both projects go more smoothly. Contact contractors to get started right away.