The mere mention of foundation problems can strike fear in the heart of a homeowner. A sturdy foundation is the most important part of a house. Walls can be painted, new appliances can be purchased, and the roof and siding can be replaced, but a home’s foundation is not so easily fixed in the event of a problem. Depending on the degree of severity, foundation cracks can lead to additional problems in the rest of the home. For this reason, it’s important to recognize the signs of foundation damage and know which steps to take next.

Recognizing Foundation Problems

Your home’s foundation is not like the walls in your living room or bedroom. You probably don’t look at it every day, so it is unlikely that you would see a crack as it developed. The primary warning signs of foundation problems are more subtle. On the inside of your home, look for doors that start to jam, swing open, or fail to latch; windows that become difficult to open or close; cracks that appear in the drywall over doorways and windows or where the wall and ceiling meet; and cracks that appear in hard-surface flooring.

foundation crack in concreteOn the outside of your home, look for visible cracks. Use a level to see if any above-ground foundation walls are bulging out or curving in. Check the concrete with a screwdriver to test its hardness. Ideally, you shouldn’t be able to damage the concrete—if you do, that could be a sign of concrete that wasn’t mixed properly. In your home’s basement or crawl space, look for signs of moisture and check that support posts are completely straight and fully support any beams. Finally, if your home has a chimney, take a look at it to make sure that it has not separated from the house. While it is not unusual for a house to settle over time, these particular changes are indicative of more than just normal settling.

Although it is important to fix foundation problems as promptly as possible, try not to panic or jump to the worst possible conclusion if you see a crack in a wall. Contact a foundation repair company and ask if they will send someone out to take a look at what you’ve found. There is always a chance that the crack is unrelated to the home’s foundation or structure and is just an aesthetic issue. If the evaluation shows a more pressing issue, you may have a few options for repair. Check back in with us tomorrow to learn more about the possible solutions a foundation repair contractor might propose.

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