The signs of foundation problems can be insidious, for they can mimic conditions that are benign. For instance, do brick cracks or that little crack in the basement wall add up to nothing much, or is it a sign that the house is sinking into the earth? Other signs are not even near the foundation, such as door frame/window frame separation from brick or doors out of square. Sometimes only a professional knows whether or not there’s a problem with the foundation that needs to be addressed right away. Here are 10 warning signs of foundation problems:
1. Exterior Cracks
Fine, small cracks in the exterior walls or on the steps are usually nothing to worry about. Exterior cracks that are large and have a zig-zag pattern may be a sign that there’s something wrong with the foundation. Brick cracks or bricks that are protruding from the wall should be checked.
2. Interior Sheetrock Cracks
The homeowner should suspect a problem when the interior sheetrock cracks are zig-zagging and run nearly the height of the wall. They should also call in a contractor if wallpaper is pulling away from the wall and if there are cracks at the junction of the wall and the ceiling.
3. Doors Out of Square and Uneven Floors
Very few homes are plumb after a few years of settling, but a door that is really out of square and has cracks in the wall above it should be looked at. Lots of owners of otherwise sound houses have such uneven floors that if they spill some water on the floor it rolls in one direction. A homeowner should be worried if the gradient of the floor is more than one or two inches every 15 feet.
4. Door Frame/Window Frame Separation from Brick
A window or door frame that’s pulling away from the brick wall is a serious sign that the foundation is in trouble.
5. Rotten Wood – Pier & Beams
Piers and beams that have rotten wood can be signs of several things besides a bad foundation, and all of these things need to be looked into. The humidity of the basement or crawlspace can be too high, there’s been a flood or the piers and beams have been attacked by termites or carpenter ants. Rotten Wood – Pier & Beams is never a good sign.
6. Bouncing floors – Rotten Wood
Bouncing floors – rotten wood can also be a sign of some other dire thing besides foundation trouble. If the floors feel like trampolines, they should be checked by a professional.
7. Tile Cracks
Though tiles fired at high temperatures are quite hard, they’re also brittle. Many things can cause tile cracks. If there are too many tile cracks in the kitchen, bathroom or wherever they are, this might be a sign of foundation trouble.
8. Expansion Joint Seperation
The expansion joint is installed in a structure to compensate for movement caused by the shifting of the earth, changes in the temperature, humidity, wind and other events. A failing foundation can cause such expansion joint seperation that the joint fails, which can cause widespread cracking. Conversely, a failing expansion joint can cause the foundation to fail.
9. Nails Pop Out of Drywall
Though the sight of a few nails popping out of drywall may be harmless and easily fixed, if it is widespread a professional should be called in.
10. Walls Pull Away From the House
A building contractor should be called in right away if the homeowner notices that an exterior wall is actually pulling away from the house. If this isn’t fixed, the wall can collapse.
If the homeowner has more than a few of these 10 warning signs of foundation problems are just a few, they need to get in touch with a building contractor.