If your home is having foundation issues, there are telltale signs that can be used to diagnosed this problem so you can get a foundation repair. It’s not too uncommon to have a foundation that is a little uneven, but if your foundation is really out of whack, then more problems could arise.
What do you look at when inspecting your house’s foundation? When do you call in a professional? There are a lot of questions to ask, and rightly so! Let’s look at some of the ways you can identify a foundational issue so you know if you need a foundation repair or not before calling in the experts.
Identifying Foundation Issues
Check the Inside
According to foundation contractors the most obvious place to look inside is the floors. Houses settle over time, so a little unevenness shouldn’t be cause for panic. Instead, you should be looking for the more dramatic signs that changes are taking place.
- Doors beginning to jam, or failing to latch.
- Cracks appearing in walls. They are usually more pronounced over doorways, windows, or where the walls meet the ceiling.
- Windows sticking, becoming harder to open or close, and failing to operate entirely.
- Cracks in vinyl or ceramic tiles over a concrete floor.
Check the Outside
The walls hold the key at this step. Pick a wall and your house and stand at the corner. Sight down from your corner to the next and look for any misalignments in the wall. If the wall is bulging outwards, bending inwards, or is sloping at all, it might be time to get help from Seismic Retrofitting Services.
Likewise, you should check for leaning walls with a level. Once you check one wall, check the rest of them for the same problems.
Reading Foundation Cracks
Concrete and block foundations usually have at least a few cracks. The skill is recognizing which are insignificant and which are serious.
When concrete cures, it shrinks slightly. This tends to leave cracks, especially in areas where the is an L-shape intersection. These aren’t a structural concern on their own, but you should consider plugging them to prevent water damage in the future.
Small cracks (1/16″) can be painted over with a concrete waterproofing paint to seal them. Make sure to check back to see if the crack re-opens. If it does something on the outside (such as a moisture issue) is exerting pressure on the wall.
Stair-step cracks in masonry joints are more troubling. If the wall if bulging, or the crack is wider than 1/4″ there is something putting pressure on the wall from the exterior.
Horizontal cracks are a dangerous situation. These might be caused by either water damage, freezing and unfreezing soil, or soil that shrink when dry and expands when moist. The bad news here is you’ll probably need a whole new foundation.
Fixing the Issue
Small cracks are easy to set. Apply a waterproofing paint to the concrete and check back later to see if any of the problem areas have reopened themselves. If you need to call in the experts, there are a few options you can choose. Your options include:
- Bolting on steel braces – $500-750 each.
- These usually space about 6 feet apart along the wall
- Underpinning the foundations with helical screws or concrete piers – $1,200-$1,500 per pier
- These are spaced every 6-8 feet
- A whole new foundation – Can run up to $40,000
- This can involve lifting the entire house, laying a new foundation, and resetting the house. Very cool to watch, but less fun to pay for.
Sometimes foundation issues can’t be prevented, especially in older homes. Make sure you know the warning signs before any structural damage happens to your home! Call or email us at Koopman Lumber today with any questions about how to best protect and service your foundations. Thanks for reading!