A foundation can settle (move downward) into the soil beneath it. When this occurs, it usually means the home’s structure has become distorted or uneven in some way. The settlement occurs when the soil becomes more compacted.
There are many reasons for soil compaction, including the soil not having been properly compacted in the first place. Moisture can also cause settlement. When the soil gets wet, it expands. When it dries, it shrinks. Certain types of soil, like clay soil, expand and contract more than others. This means the type of soil the home is built on can influence the amount and rate of settlement. Trees looking for water underneath a home can also cause soil disruption that leads to settlement.
Most foundations experience some type of settlement as time goes on. Problems occur when the settlement weakens the structural integrity of the building.
Cracks on both the outside and inside walls are often an obvious sign of settlement and possible foundation damage. The same is true for fireplace cracks.
Sloping floors is another indicator of severe foundation settlement, along with bowed walls and/or protruding nail heads.
Have you started having trouble opening and closing windows or doors? Settlement can cause a foundation to drop lower in some areas than others. This unevenness will affect the fit of windows and doors.
An uneven roof or roof leak, especially if the roof is new, is another bad indicator. When inspecting your roof, make sure you check it from both the inside and outside.
Also take a look at your gutters. A clogged gutter can cause rainwater to run over the sides of your house and seep into the building. Water will erode a foundation. As the layers of foundation are removed, small cracks will begin to appear.
Another place to look for damage is near windows on the outside of the house. If you see cracks running diagonally, you may have foundation settlement issues. In this case, the settlement is causing the window joints to pull apart.
If you don’t see any obvious signs of foundation problems, look around the outside of the house for pooled water, especially after it rains. This is a sign of poor drainage. Water that doesn’t drain properly can seriously damage a foundation. You will also want to check for any plumbing leaks inside your home. Any type of water, regardless of its source, can ruin your foundation.
Don’t have the time to inspect your property? Neglecting this important part of home maintenance can put your home and family at risk. A specialist in home foundation repair will often conduct a home inspection for free. The inspection will be thorough and nothing will be missed. You will also save money getting minor problems fixed before it’s too late.