Home Foundation Problems and How to Spot Them

Maintenance & Repairs

Our homes continuously need upkeep, and your home’s foundation is no different. So how do you spot home foundation problems and how do you prevent them?  Keeping a regular maintenance and upkeep schedule around your home’s foundation is very important, because the foundation, as one of the most overlooked areas of your home when it comes to maintenance, could also be the most costly to repair.

Changes in seasonal temperatures, rain and drought can lead to periods of time when the foundation is constantly shifting and moving.

The problem?

Constant shifting can make the foundation unbalanced and cause cracks that can lead to problems inside your home. 

So let’s look as how you can identify the most common signs of home foundation problems, how you can avoid them and how to easily keep up with the foundation maintenance and upkeep. 

The Most Common Signs Of Home Foundation Problems.

Whether you have foundation problems or not, learning to identify the most common signs of a foundation issue is very important in order catch the root cause of the problem early and create a plan of action to fix the situation.

The earlier you catch a problem with your home foundation the most likely you will be able to stop the damage or fix it before it costs thousands of dollars to repair.

These are some of the signs that you need to learn to identify:

  • Foundation Slab Or Brick Cracks
  • Drywall Cracks 
  • Doors That Are Sagging Or Are Hard To Open and Close
  • Uneven Flooring
  • Crawl Spaces
  • Sagging or Uneven Cabinet Doors
Not all foundation or brick cracks necessarily mean a foundation problem. It is very common for the foundation to develop hairline cracks or fissures as the foundation settles during the first 1-5 years after the initial house build. The most common signs of actual trouble on the outside of the house are vertical cracks along the brick perimeter, window cracks that show a clear separation along the edge of the window and the bricks around it. Additionally you should be looking out for chimney cracks or a slanted chimney.  Some of the signs mentioned above do occur in the interior of the home, so it is also important to keep an eye inside the home. Sagging doors, both for passage doorways or cabinetry show a potential sign of foundation issues. Due to shifts in the foundation, the interior of the home will also begin to shift. This leads to uneven structures that ultimately show up as a sagging door.   so…

What Causes foundation issues?

With proper maintenance and upkeep all of the instances that can lead or cause a home foundation issue can be prevented. 

The trick is knowing what you need to be looking out for and what you need to prevent. 

So here are the major causes of home foundation problems.

Hot Weather

The summer months can, if not handled correctly, take a toll on your foundation. This is because as temperatures rise, the moisture in the soil around your home’s foundation will begin to evaporate, leading to the expansion and contraction of the soil. Over time this can cause cracks in your foundation.

Plumbing Leaks

Plumbing leaks that you may be unaware of can lead to too much moisture around your foundation, causing shifting and ultimately cracking. These leaks most commonly occur in the sewer lines going in and out of you home and since these water lines are under your home and away from your view, they can go undetected for months or even years.

Tree Roots

This is something that most people over look, but mid-size to large trees can extract very large amounts of water or moisture from the soil around your home through their deep and strong root systems.

Improper Water Drainage

The water fall from rain or irrigation, if improperly drained away from your foundation, is one of the leading causes of cracks and foundation problems. If after a rain storm or regular irrigation, water concentrates at a certain spot around your home, it can cause the soil to compact. After a period of time of constant concentration this can create an uneven support for your foundation.

Insects

Even though hairline cracks or small crevices themselves are not a sign of foundation issues, insects trailing into these crevices or cracks can create foundation issues in the future by speeding up the process deterioration.  

How To Prevent Your Home’s Foundation From Cracking

So now that you know the signs of home foundation problems and some of the major things that can create those issues, now you need to know how to properly maintain your foundation and how to prevent any problems from coming up.

Inspection Routine

The first thing that you can do to properly catch any potential issues is to create a routine for inspecting the perimeter of your foundation. Looking for cracks, trailing insects, any/or any type of visible damage. 

Plumbing Leaks

Having a professional check your plumbing yearly or at any initial sign of problems is very important. A leak under the foundation slab can be virtually undetectable without the use of special tests and tools.

A plumbing professional will be able to find any potential issues and fix them before it can affect the foundation. They will check all plumbing systems, including sewer lines, sprinkler systems and fresh water lines. 

Trees And Root Systems

Large trees, specially those with very deep and strong root systems can be detrimental to your foundation. As we mentioned before, they can extract very large amounts of water from your soil, causing uneven spots and eventually slab shifting.

If you are planting any trees, it is important to plant them with enough distance from your home/foundation. Preferably at about 15 to 25 feet away.

Also, if the space is limited and the tree will be relatively close, it is recommended to stay away from Maple trees, Elm trees, Magnolia trees, Chinese Pistache, Live Oaks and Bradford Pears. These trees have very large and deep root systems and can eventually cause some issues to your foundation.  

If you foresee potential issues with root systems, it is also recommended to instal a root barrier system around your home. 

Proper Moisture Levels 

Creating a watering routine is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to prevent foundation problems.

The seasonal shifts from warm months to rainy months and to cold months, if not addressed accordingly, can create unstable soil around your home. The constant movement can eventually crack your home’s foundation causing structural damages. 

There are multiple tools that you can use to create a watering routine. Some can make it a very effortless and simple to set up, like an automated or smart sprinkler system. These systems come with pre-set watering schedules, rain water sensors, adjustable watering zones, and multiple other options that can be set up with the push of a button. 

Other tools you can use include a soaker hose, an over the lawn sprinkler or even a garden hose that you can manually use to water around your home. It just really depends on your budget and the time that you would like to spend for your home’s watering routine. 

Drainage Systems 

As we mentioned above, another leading cause of foundation cracking and shifting is improper water drainage.

If you don’t have one already, installing a gutter system can ensure the proper drainage of rain water away from your home and foundation. Heavy rain can bring multiple inches of water, and if not properly drained away, it can create water concentration near your foundation and eventually create uneven support. 

Additionally, the downspouts from your gutter system should be positioned and installed in a way that they can discharge water 5 to 10 feet away from your foundation. This will ensure that water is carried away into the different slopes around your home and eventually directed away from your foundation. 

Now that you know how to identify the multiple signs of potential home foundation problems and how to stop your foundation from cracking in the future, creating a simple routine around your foundation should be an easy and effortless task that we know you can do, no problem!
We hope these tips helped you get one step closer to CONQUERING YOUR HOME! Leave us a comment and let us know any other tricks and tips that you do to properly maintain and care for your home’s foundation. Until next time!  

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