Foundation Question of the Week: How Do I Spot Foundation Damage?

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You probably do not think about your foundation at all, but it is an essential part of your home. Your foundation keeps your floors, walls and ceiling from crumbling to pieces. Without a solid foundation, the structure of your home is compromised. 

To maintain a healthy home, it is crucial to know how to spot possible signs of damage in your foundation. Hopefully, you can learn how to spot damage before it’s too late. 

What Causes Foundation Damage?

There are many factors that can potentially cause damage to your foundation. Here are some of the most common causes of foundation damage:

  • Extreme heat: In the summer, more water evaporates from the soil around your home, causing the area to shrink and form cracks.
  • Loose soil: If the soil underneath and around your foundation is loose or low-density, it causes cracks to form. 
  • Poor drainage: If water cannot properly drain away from your house, a multitude of possible issues can arise, including mold buildup, bowing foundation and leaks.
  • Plumbing issues: Plumbing leaks can be detrimental to your foundation, as they often go unnoticed until it is too late. 
  • Poor foundation construction: While not as common, poor construction and human error are still factors that can cause future damage. 

Signs of Foundation Damage

The tricky thing about foundation issues is that many signs of damage are fairly benign. You may not notice a small crack in your basement wall or a slight water leak. However, it is essential to be observant of anything out of the ordinary. 

Exterior and Interior Cracks

Cracks happen for various reasons, and small ones are typically nothing to worry about. However, if you notice large cracks or small cracks that are getting bigger, it is time to check them further. Pay close attention to the pattern of the crack. If any cracks have a zig-zag pattern, it could be a sign of foundation damage. 

Also check for cracks in brick, wallpaper and sheetrock. If your basement walls are bowing or if your wallpaper is peeling, contact a foundation professional right away. 

Uneven Floors and Doorframes

Most homes have some level of unevenness, especially older homes. However, drastically uneven places need to be looked at right away. If your door is out of square or if your floor is noticeably uneven in multiple areas, your foundation may be in danger. 

Rotten Wood

If you notice any rotten or damaged wood in your home, it should be looked at immediately. When most people see rotting wood in their home, their minds immediately turn to termites. However, foundation issues can also cause damage to wooden structures. 

How? Most of the time, it has to do with humidity and drainage. If water is not being properly drained away from your home, excess moisture will build up and create humidity in your basement. As the humidity increases, it slowly rots away wooden beams and structures. 

If you have a wooden floor, pay close attention to the strength of that wood. If the wood feels like a trampoline or bounces after you walk on it, you could have a foundation problem. 

Walls Pulling Away From the Home

Call a contractor immediately if any of your exterior walls start to bow away from your home. Keep an eye on your basement walls as well, as excess water buildup can cause them to bow. 

Other signs of foundation failure may include tile cracks, nails loosening from drywall and expansion joint separation. 

How To Prevent Foundation Damage

Preventing foundation damage starts with a properly built foundation. However, there are easy steps each homeowner can take to prevent foundation issues: 

  • Clean your gutters and drains regularly.
  • Keep gardens and bushes at least three feet away from your home.
  • Repair small issues as soon as you see them. 
  • Make sure the grade of garden beds and soil pitches away from your foundation.
  • Invest in a dehumidifier for your basement. 

Taking small steps to ensure a healthier home will save you both time and money in the long run. Letting any of these small issues go can eventually lead to costly repairs and potential health hazards. 

Keeping a healthy home takes a lot of time and effort. Luckily, our foundation experts at Ray Arnold Masonry and General Contracting are committed to helping you do just that. If you notice any possible foundation problems, contact us right away so we can get to work. We’re committed to serving our community.