Winter: A Great Time for a House Foundation Inspection
Winter is a great time for a house foundation inspection, especially due to soil shrinkage in the past summer. Also, soil expansion from spring showers has not yet occurred.
You can check your home’s structural integrity yourself or request a free inspection and we’ll do it for you. However, to perform the maintenance check yourself, you will need a laser level, paper, and a pencil.
House Foundation Inspection: Your DIY Checklist
Draw Your Home’s Footprint
First, make a basic sketch of the outline of your home using a computer drawing program or paper. Moreover, be sure to indicate doors and windows, to begin with.
Inspect Your Doors and Windows
Whenever an opening is cut or created in a wall, such as a door or a window, it becomes the weakest point in the wall. Therefore, doors and windows often display the first signs of foundation settlement. Three common problem signs to look for in your house foundation inspection include, but are not limited to:
- Floor and wall gaps, or gaps between the frame and door or window
- Drywall cracks extending from the corners of doors or windows
- A door or window separating from the framing or exterior finish
Additionally, you can check for misalignment by opening and shutting doors and windows to be sure if they are operating properly. Also, make sure to lock or latch properly. Lastly, take notes about any of these signs on your sketch.
Check Your Floor
Walk through your home and note any abrupt changes in the floor, such as cracks, bowing, sagging, or bouncing. Consequently, you may also notice the uneven floors dropping and separating from walls. As a result, gaps may form between the floor and the wall.
Check to see if your floors are sloping by using a laser level. First, set it on the floor of the main level of your home, pointing toward the walls. Secondly, measure the difference between the laser line and the floor on one side of the room and compare it to the distance between the laser line and the floor on the opposite side of the room. Finally, make a note of any differences in your sketch.
Check Your Walls and Ceilings for Cracks
Cracks in drywall throughout the house are a good indicator of house settlement. Usually, these cracks can be more obvious in the uppermost levels of your house. Look for these common signs and note them on your drawing accordingly:
- Drywall cracks extending from the corners of doors and windows
- Cracks that follow drywall seams
- Drywall tape buckling, pulling or ripping
- Drywall nail pops
With this in mind, make sure to note your sketch with the direction, width and severity of the cracks.
Check Your Interior Foundation and Basement Walls
In this step, look for cracks on the interior of your crawl space foundation walls or basement walls. In general, basement and foundation walls built of concrete block are more likely to have horizontal cracks and cracks that form stair-step like patterns. These patterns will regularly show along mortar lines and are a common sign of settlement. Vertical cracks are also common on concrete basement walls. Furthermore, in basement walls made of poured concrete, vertical cracks are more common.
Inspect the Exterior of Your Home
Finally, walk around the outside of your home and look for any shifting, ground sinking, or other movements, especially around chimneys and patios. For the most part, chimneys are built on a separate foundation that is not connected to the house. As a result, they are at a greater risk for settlement and will separate away from the home.
In brick homes, stair-step cracks along the mortar lines are a common sign of foundation settlement. As the home settles further, vertical cracks may widen, indicating that the wall is rotating outward.
House Foundation Inspection: What’s Next?
After the inspection, if you found any of the foundation problem signs, contact a professional foundation repair contractor. Regardless of your specific issue, foundation settlement problems do not go away on their own, and in many cases, they actually get worse.
Fortunately, a home experiencing foundation settlement issues can be permanently stabilized. JES uses engineered solutions that transfer the weight of the home from the unstable soils to competent load-bearing soil. When left untreated, the structure can become more and more unstable. Thus, making your home unsafe. Consequently, the value of the home declines too.
If you’re thinking about adding an addition, a second story or even remodeling your kitchen or bath with tiles and granite countertops, be sure you consider the extra weight that it is going to be added to the overall structure. Why do most structures settle? Because the weight of the home is greater than the bearing capacity of the soil.
Jesse Waltz, a Professional Engineer, and a 1985 Virginia Military Institute graduate is the founder of JES Foundation Repair. JES is a regional foundation repair, crawl space, and basement waterproofing company with locations in Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach, Richmond Metro Area, Washington DC Metro/Northern Virginia, Baltimore Metro Area, and Western Virginia.
If you’re not sure of the source of your cracked bricks, give us a call at 757-301-4820, and schedule a free inspection. We’ll find out the cause of the problem and help you find the perfect solution.