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How to Evaluate the Significance of Foundation Movement

Common Causes of Homeowner Headaches and How to Prevent Them
Common Causes of Homeowner Headaches and How to Prevent Them

The foundation of your home is one of the most important parts of your home because it is what everything else rests on. Naturally, you want it to be firm and stable to keep your house safe to live in. This will also ensure it’s free of accumulating damages that could interfere with your day to day life and cause your house to look disagreeable. The reality that you may have to face may not line up with this desire, however. Due to a plethora of reasons, your foundation may start to shift and create problems. Yet it can be a challenge to even figure out what is wrong or how extensive your foundation issues are. Here we will go over how to evaluate the significance of foundation movement and the telltale signs that you need to take some counteractive measures to stop it.

Cracks on the Foundation

Cracks on the outside walls of your foundation or inside your basement are a conspicuous indication that shifting has occurred. It is actually normal for a few cracks to appear here and there as the concrete dries in the curing process—this is when it reaches a desired temperature and moisture level so it can harden correctly. Thin cracks in between separate concrete pieces or blocks, for instance, are not serious.

Sometimes though, cracks do represent foundation trouble. If you see rifts that are about a fourth of an inch wide or more, something is putting an unnatural amount of force on your foundation and slowly causing it to break. In addition, horizontal cracks usually go along with foundation movement. Between a vertical and horizontal crack of the same width, the horizontal one is often a much more significant sign. This stretches to include diagonal cracks, which are also a cause for concern. But why are these all associated with foundation shifting? The reason is that they all occur when the water content in the soil around the home changes. In cold temperatures, the water can freeze and expand, pressing on the foundation. In another case, the earth may expand when it rains then shrink as it dries up, making room for the foundation to move. When the structure shifts due to these forces, wide, horizontal cracks form as it bends out of its original shape.

Bowed Walls

Bowed basement walls that bulge inward into the room are another mark of significant foundation movement. Again, water is the most probable culprit. When the area near your home is not graded well and does not divert water away from it, water from rain and snow will collect on the outer walls of your foundation in the ground. Over time, it will exert hydrostatic pressure on the walls and cause them to curve. A bowed wall does not only look abnormal, but it also compromises the integrity of your house. Cracks may form along with it, allowing the water pressing on the foundation to enter inside, and the house may eventually collapse if nothing is done to stop it.

While a bowed wall may seem like something that is easy to see, it may elude you when it is still in its early stages. The other signs outlined here can reveal that bending is happening.

Sinking or Rising Home Sections

If you notice that sections of your home are becoming lower than others, or that certain areas are rising, your foundation is most likely displaced from its original orientation. Since your home is not made to deal with such occurrences, you should have your foundation looked at by a professional as soon as possible. Unlike cracks or bowed walls, sinking (also known as settling) can come about because the soil itself was not adequately compact when the house was built. Looser areas in the ground may allow certain portions of the house to move down deeper into the earth at uneven rates and threaten your home’s soundness. Rising (or upheaval) results from moisture underneath your basement. Water from precipitation can pool there as it does on the sides, or you may have a leak in your plumbing system that is pouring water into the space below your house.

Vertical movements may be accompanied by large vertical cracks around the home which differ from the horizontal cracks that arise due to lateral movement. Even though most vertical cracks are more minor, you should still take note of them when they appear alongside moving floors.

Doors and Windows That Don’t Fit

When doors and windows become difficult to open and close because they are scraping against their frames at angles, you may have a shifting foundation. The same can be said for openings that appear around the frames and doors that become loose as well. However, it is important to take a look at the other parts of your home and foundation as well to see if this change in the doors and windows occurred due to movement in the ground. This is because doors can warp their shape slightly with variations in weather and humidity, which may be independent of expanding and contracting soil. If you do suspect that a weakening foundation is behind the irregularities in the doors and windows, they can serve as a good way to see just how bad the shifts are. You can measure the height of the angled gaps from the frame to edge of the door or window to gain an idea of how much that portion of the home has lowered or risen.

Ultimately, you should find a professional service that specializes in dealing with foundation issues if you see the signs described. They will be able to assess the full extent of your foundation movements and figure the best course of action to take to remedy them. If you are looking for a foundation repair company, look no further than The Real Seal. We have extensive knowledge of foundation problems and have the skill to employ various solutions depending on each scenario, such as piering and carbon fiber strip installation. Don’t hesitate to call us today!

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Austin Werner

Austin Werner is the Owner of The Real Seal LLC, a basement waterproofing and foundation repair company. Austin believes that having a highly trained and happy team is the key to success. This is reflected through hundreds of 5 star customer reviews his company has received online.

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