How to Spot Foundation Problems in Houses or Commercial Buildings

Jul 25, 2016

Categories: Foundations

As a foundation repair contractor in South Carolina, we know that the failure of a foundation is a significant and costly concern. If your foundation is unattended to, even the relatively minor damages can lead to bigger and more expensive foundation repair costs in the future.

The best prevention of potentially escalated expenses is scanning for signs of infrastructural damages and addressing such issues immediately they appear. Most of these signs usually manifest in other sections of a house, typically levels above the foundation. Listed below is a simple checklist of the most common symptoms indicating a faulty foundation.

Cracked, Crumbling or Compromised Foundations

Whenever you are conducting a routine inspection, start with your foundation. Although it is built to last, you must never allow this underlying support to show any signs of damage such as:

  • Vertical, horizontal, or zig-zagging hairline cracks or fractures
  • Sloping, sagging or buckling foundation floors and walls
  • Gaps or ruptures
  • Flaking or crumbling of the concrete
  • Pooling water, moisture, mold and stains

Structural foundation inspections should be conducted inside the house, which means within the basement and also along all the exterior surfaces of your infrastructure.

Water Damage and Soil Shifting

One of the leading causes of foundational failure is an improper or inadequate drainage of water. When the soil surrounding a house rapidly contracts during the dry spells and expands during the wet ones, it can cause unnatural shifting of the ground, a process that impacts tremendous pressure on the foundation.

On top of being a leading cause of foundational damage, improper drainage of water also indicates infrastructural failure is imminent. The presence of cracks or fractures in the foundation can cause the redirection of water to lower soil levels, which might result in the excessive buildup of moisture around the structure.

Be it a cause or symptom, once noticed, improper drainage of water should be attended to immediately. Conducting an inspection of the soil around a house allows homeowners to check for potential signs of water damage concerns. Some of the factors to be on the lookout for include:

  • Unnaturally wet soil in the event of no recent rainfall
  • Unusually dry soil following a torrential downpour or after you water the lawn using a garden hose

It is also important to note that improper drainage and the consequent water damages often exist in other parts of a house and are at times hidden from view. Apart from conducting a top-to-bottom inspection of your home, you should also inspect for the invisible leaks. Such an examination can be by shutting off all your water-based appliances such as faucets, noting the exact water meter reading, and checking the meter about 12 hours later to confirm whether or not the readings have changed.

If you notice a change in the meter readings, there might be leaks hidden underneath the floor or behind walls. As such, it is important to engage the services of both a plumber and foundation repair expert, which would ensure you solve the problem before it worsens.

Warped Ceilings and Sagging Floors

Foundation issues can at times manifest in some of the upper levels of a house, often in the form of warped ceilings and sagging floors. Look out for obvious gaps where interior walls meet the floor or ceiling. Verify whether or not the slope is consistent on all ceilings and floors using a level tool, and a tennis ball to determine whether minute gradients exist. The tennis ball should not move upon random placement on every floor.

Cracked, Crumbling or Buckling Walls

Over time, all structures settle which is only natural seeing that building materials are ideally designed to give a little. However, excessive settling is a sign of foundation failure, and the most obvious symptoms manifest as cracks, buckles and crumbles, especially in the upper walls of a house. As such, homeowners should conduct routine inspections on all exterior and interior walls for:

  • Moisture, mold and stains, which indicate water damage
  • Cracks, fissures, shifts, and warps
  • Crumbling and decay, particularly on cement or brick façades

Be sure not to overlook joints, molding, corners, pillars, and chimneys when conducting such inspections, all of which should be optimal.

Improperly Fitting Windows and Doors

Every door and window of a house should fit snugly in place without being either too tight or too loose. Such issues should be addressed promptly even when foundation damage is not to blame. Improperly fitting windows and doors often cause uncontrolled heat loss, leading to unusually high energy bills. Remember to include HVAC vents, garage doors, and attic windows when conducting such inspections.

It is possible to catch foundation issues early on by routinely scanning for these signs, which ensures you maintain minimal infrastructure repairs, consequently extending the lifespan of a house. Contact CNT to further discuss your Home Foundation or Houses Foundation or Commercial Buildings Foundation
and how we can help protect it.