Causes, Clues, and Solutions
Foundation issues aren’t always easy to see right out of the gate. It’s tough for many people, especially inexperienced homeowners, to determine when they’re dealing with genuine foundation problems as opposed to just a cosmetic issue.
Understanding more about house foundation problems and solutions can help you handle those issues when they do arise. Whether you’re a brand new homeowner or you’ve owned your home for many years, you need to be paying attention to the common signs of trouble.
Foundation Repair in Virginia, Maryland, DC
There are many reasons why foundation problems may arise, and understanding those common reasons for concern is an important part of maintaining the stability of your home. Keep reading to learn more about these foundation problems, how to find them, and how to fix them.
The Causes of Foundation Problems
Why do foundation problems arise? There are many reasons you may experience foundation problems, ranging from serious problems that show up immediately to more creeping problems you may not have noticed until they started causing serious concerns.
There are four main categories that foundation problems fall into. One of these is almost certainly the reason for your foundation issues.
- Soil Type
What type of soil is your home built on? You likely don’t actually know the answer to this question. Most homeowners don’t know a lot about the soil underneath their homes, even though it plays a major role in the strength and stability of the foundation.
There are many different soil types, and each type requires different approaches to maximize usefulness. For example, an expansive soil expands more in water, while a consolidating soil shrinks more during drought. If your soil is either or both of these, you’ll need different preparation for the foundation.
This shrink-swell system can cause serious problems in your home over time. That includes a cracked foundation slab, bowing basement walls, cracks in the walls and ceiling, and more. At the very least, you should know the type of soil your home rests on.
- Water in the Soil
When there’s too much water in the soil, whether from a flood, a plumbing leak, or just natural moisture, your basement will struggle with substantial amounts of hydrostatic pressure. This is the pressure exerted by water when it’s at rest and includes all types of standing water.
As water rests in the soil, it’s going to expand the soil around your foundation. That expansion will naturally start to push into the foundation. A combination of soil pressure and hydrostatic pressure can eventually cause cracks in your basement walls and serious structural concerns.
Standing water or water that evaporates up into a dirt crawl space can also cause serious foundation concerns on its own. Your crawl space and basement weren’t meant to handle moisture, whether it’s standing water or condensation, and you should be addressing those concerns.
- Construction and Preparation
Another problem that may arise starts as soon as the construction team gets started with your home. A home requires lots of preparation to stand in a stable fashion. That preparation includes proper planning, quality materials, and correct preparation.
If any of those pieces fail, you’re going to end up with a poorly-constructed home. That poor construction can shine through in a variety of ways. With poor preparation and construction, you’re often going to end up with foundation problems of some type.
The only way to really know whether the construction and preparation of your home are adequate is to have been involved in the process. If you weren’t, you may want to schedule a free inspection with JES to learn whether you’re having any of those lasting issues.
- Natural Disasters
The last common category is that of natural disasters. These may include earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes, among others. Obviously, natural disasters can seriously injure many parts of your home, including the foundation.
Earthquakes and hurricanes tend to be the most likely to cause lasting damage that you don’t notice. It’s easy to replace a cracked window from external forces, but what about when water collects around your foundation, exerting hydrostatic pressure for days, weeks and even months?
Any time you deal with a natural disaster, you may also end up with foundation problems. Especially when it comes to things like earthquakes and hurricanes, it’s important to observe any changes in your foundation and contact a JES expert if you see them.
Foundation Problem Signs
If you’re going to discover foundation problems, you need to know what to look for. Foundation problems aren’t always easy to see; they may seem like just cosmetic issues that don’t actually have a foundation impact.
These are some of the most common signs that you’re dealing with foundation issues. If you see any of these, you may want to talk to a JES expert.
- Cracks and Gaps Outside
When you see cracks and gaps outside your home, you may start to suspect a foundation problem. That includes cracks in the external brick of your home, in the patio, and along your chimney.
It’s more common for these cracks to occur around places that already hold up a lot of stress. That means you should pay careful attention to cracks around brick walls that are foundational, or around the base of your home.
These cracks may occur as a result of something not attached to your foundation. After all, these places are exposed to the elements. However, it’s definitely common for cracks outside your home to stem from a foundation issue you haven’t uncovered yet.
- Cracks and Gaps Inside
These cracks on the inside of your home tend to be even more of a problem. That’s because there shouldn’t really be cracks on the inside of your home, and it’s less likely that you’re going to have cosmetic cracks inside.
If you start to see cracks around doors and windows, spiderwebbing across the ceiling, or coming up from your walls, you should definitely suspect a foundation problem. This typically indicates that there’s something even more dramatic happening under your home.
Occasionally, cracks can be a cosmetic problem. However, that’s usually only the case if they’re less than an eighth of an inch wide. If you’re seeing cracks inside that are larger than an eighth of an inch, talk to a JES expert as soon as possible.
- Foundation Problem Signs
Are you starting to notice that your floor is sloping downward? Have you noticed an inward slant to your basement walls? Does it seem like some parts of your floor are higher than others? These are all warning signs of foundation problems.
Most of the time, this indicates that your foundation is settling on one side more than the other. Uneven floors can also showcase wood rot or other structural problems with your floor joists. Regardless of how they’re uneven, your floors definitely shouldn’t be dealing with these concerns.
It’s extremely rare to have uneven walls and floors that aren’t due to a foundation problem of some kind. At the very least, you need to make sure you’re dealing with these problems before they become much worse.
- Crawl Space and Basement Moisture
This is itself a problem that can easily develop into serious foundation issues in the future. Even if you don’t currently have foundation problems from your crawl space or basement moisture, don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s a harmless problem.
Your basement and crawl space need to have a low level of moisture so you can avoid further problems. These problems can include mold, mildew, wood rot, insects, rodents and much more. It’s important that you reduce your humidity to avoid those issues.
If you know you have standing water in your crawl space or basement, you’ve noticed enhanced humidity in these areas, or you’ve started to notice cracks along the basement walls, you need to fix that. A JES expert can help you develop a path to fixing that.
Make Sure You’re Covered With a JES Expert Inspection
Basements and crawl spaces are very similar in some ways and very different in others. At the end of the day, as with many other elements of your home, it’s most important that you tailor your actions to your individual circumstances.
The best way to get the right support for your needs is to book a free inspection from JES today. That way, you’ll be covered for your personal needs.