Doors and windows that don’t close properly, cracked walls and bulging floors are all signs of foundation issues. Sixty percent of all homes that are built on expansive soils will suffer from some type of foundation distress at one point or another. These issues typically occur when a portion of the foundation settles or heaves, which can create cracks or other types of damage. The primary source of movement is due to differences in the soil moisture. Any gain or loss of soil moisture can create serious swelling or shrinkage, which can affect the foundation.
If the frame of your home does not being to change until three or more years have passed, it is quite doubtful that the distortion is the result of the full-depth foundation settlement, which will always be evident due to the matching cracks. The cracks can occur at each of the sides of the foundation wall that is undergoing a downward movement that is the result of a soil bearing failure.
You will know settlement cracks are present since they are almost always vertical. These should not be confused with the cracks that occur in a wall that is due to lateral movement that results from soil pressure.
Warning signs on exterior walls
Some of the most common signs of foundation or slab failure include:
Cracked or broken foundation
Bricks that are cracked
Separation around your walls, windows or garage door
Warning signs on interior walls
Some of the most common signs you will notice on the interior of your home include:
Cracks in your floor
Cracked sheet rock
Windows or doors that have become misaligned
In most cases you will need to contact a professional to determine the main issue with your foundation. Some of the methods that will be used by a professional include:
Probe for weakness in the concrete
If your home has a poured perimeter foundation and you have noticed that the concrete looks as though it is flaking or chipping, you can poke it in a few locations with a screwdriver. You should ensure the concrete is hard enough that you do not cause any damage.
If you do notice that a piece breaks or chips away, then this is a sign that the concrete is deteriorating, which is usually the result of it being mixed with salty or dirty sand, or excessive water. This is a problem that is common in a number of homes that were built in the early part of the 1900s. There is no remedy for this besides an entirely new foundation.
Check the structural components
There are other components of your foundation besides the perimeter foundation that can be checked. You can look in the crawl space or basement and search for piers, concrete supports and posts. The posts need to stand straight and be firmly planted beneath the beams that they support. There should not be any puddles or framing that appears to be wet. Also, look for any rot with a screwdriver.
If you have any suspicion that you may be having foundation or slab issues, it is essential to call a professional right away. They will be able to successfully evaluate the issue and come up with a viable solution. In some cases, a minor repair or upgrade will have to be made. If the situation is more extensive, it is essential that you do not try to fix it on your own, since this will likely cause more issues down the road. Call a professional so that you can have confidence that the repairs are done properly the first time.