How to Discover and Handle Structural Issues in a House
Ideally, you want your house not to have structural issues. However, whether your home is 50 years old or brand new, there’s always the possibility that something could happen to cause structural damage.
Whether from poor construction, poor planning, a natural disaster, or just everyday entropy, it’s possible for you to start seeing structural damage to your house at any time. The thing is, many people don’t know what is considered structural damage to a house. That means many people don’t catch it until it’s very late.
It’s possible to catch structural damage in a house early. You just need to know the signs of structural damage to a house so you can keep an eye open for any potential problems. Here’s everything you need to know about signs of structural movement in houses.
Exterior Signs of Structural Damage
Some structural movement signs start on the outside. The first step in how to tell if a home is structurally sound is to simply look around the outside and notice any issues, aesthetic or otherwise, that may be present.
Many of the seeming aesthetic issues you’re having on the exterior of your home are actually signs of structural damage. If you see any of these potential signs, it’s a good idea to get in contact with a JES expert.
Cracks in Brick and Stonework
This is a very common sign of house settling issues. Essentially, cracks in brick and stonework tend to form because the home is settling more on one side than the other. As the settling exerts more and more force on the house, you’ll see brick and stonework cracks.
The most common cracks you’ll see from these problems will be stair-step cracks, which go up in a diagonal pattern like stair steps. However, you can also experience vertical or horizontal brick cracks. If you see any type of brick or stonework cracks on the outside of your home, it could lead to foundation problems in the future.
Porch Pulling Away From Home
Do you see your front porch, patio, or stairs starting to pull away from the rest of the home? Don’t just dismiss it as an annoyance or an aesthetic problem. It could actually be showcasing house settling issues that could cause problems in the future.
What this likely means is that your home’s foundation is settling in the opposite direction of your front porch, patio or stairs. As it starts to settle, it migrates away from the porch, potentially causing a visually obvious crack between the two.
Gaps in Window and Door Frames
As you look around your windows and doors, you may start to see small gaps in the seams, typically only on one side. This typically means you’re experiencing some form of warping. Although it’s definitely unsightly, that’s not the only thing to worry about.
These gaps may mean that one side of your home is settling in a way that’s different from the other side. For example, one side of the home didn’t experience the right type of preparation, this could happen to your windows and doors. Not only is it an aesthetic problem and potentially a safety concern, but it’s also a foundational concern.
Cracked. Leaning Chimney
If you have a chimney, take the time to inspect it at least occasionally. You don’t need to do a full physical inspection like a JES expert would. It’s just a good idea to take a look up there. That’s because a cracked chimney can showcase a serious problem. Also look to see if the chimney is pulling away from the rest of the house, which indicates soil and foundation settlement.
Your chimney isn’t as stable as the rest of your home, which means it can showcase problems earlier. A cracked chimney can be an early sign, long before signs pop up in the rest of your home, that you’re experiencing structural damage.
External Concrete Settling
When you walk out to your driveway, do you notice that the slabs of concrete don’t fit together as neatly as they used to? Does your concrete seem to be bowing under its own weight or even migrating away from the other pieces of concrete?
Although this doesn’t necessarily mean your home has structural damage, it can mean that the dirt under your concrete is starting to wash away. If the same thing is happening under your home, you could start having house settling issues. This is a separate problem that can be intricately connected to home structural damage.
Interior Signs of Structural Damage
Although you can sometimes spot structural damage just with an external inspection, the inside of your home will showcase structural damage even more strongly than the outside. Plus, you’re more likely to notice them in your everyday life.
There are plenty of signs you can start to notice when your home has structural damage. If you’re starting to see these problems, contact JES for more information about an inspection
This can be a little difficult to notice, largely because bowed walls can start very subtly. However, over time, you’ll definitely start to notice bowed walls more dramatically, because the curve inward will start to become very obvious.
It’s most common to start seeing bowed walls in the basement. That’s because the basement is what will bear hydrostatic pressure from the soil around it. If you have a basement, it’s a good idea to take a look at it every so often to make sure the walls are still standing straight.
Gaps Between the Wall and the Floor
If you’re starting to see a gap between the wall and the floor around your home, you’re definitely dealing with house settling issues. They may be as small as hairline cracks that just barely allow you to see light from the other side, but any size gap indicates a deeper issue.
These gaps start to occur because of warping. If one side of the structure starts to sink but the other side isn’t sinking as fast, it’ll cause the internal walls to also warp. That’s where you’ll find these gaps between the walls and floors.
Random Wall Cracks
Have you started to see cracks in the drywall? You may be starting to see horizontal or vertical cracks in walls throughout your home and on the outside. If you are, it’s likely that you’re seeing house settlement cracks, which happen when the house settles abnormally.
These are similar to the cracks that can happen in brick structures on the outside of your home. If house movement is causing cracks, you’re going to need to address the movement. Just replacing the wall or spackling over it won’t do anything to actually fix the problem.
Nail pops occur when a nail behind the drywall pushes through the drywall itself. They can be unsightly and can range anywhere from prominent cracks with entire nails pushed out to very slight bulges in the wall.
These nail pops typically happen because of house settling issues. The nails pop through the walls because of the way the structure behind the house is changing. It can be a dramatic sign that you should tackle as soon as possible.
If you’ve noticed your floors tilting very slightly, it may be because of house settling issues. The fact is, uneven floors happen because your house is settling unevenly; one side is settling more than the other, leading the entire structure, and therefore the floor, to settle.
These uneven floors can be an annoyance, but they can also be a safety concern. If something breakable falls off a shelf or someone trips because of the uneven surface, you may end up dealing with an injury. However, it’s also important to note that you should tackle the structural issues causing the uneven floors because those can be even more of a safety concern.
Sticking Windows and Doors
When your doors and windows are functioning properly, they should swing open as they’re supposed to. However, structural issues in a house can actually lead you to have sticking windows and doors that take a lot of effort to push open properly.
This is also due to house settling. If one side of the door settles more than the other side, the door can get caught either on the floor or the ceiling, leading to a frustratingly difficult-to-open structure. At the very least, it’s a sign that something in your home structure is changing, which can be a problem.
Cabinets That Swing Open
It might be the quintessential sign of a poltergeist, but it’s more likely that this is due to a much more concrete problem. If your home settles so the cabinet tilts away from the wall, the cabinet doors will have a harder time staying shut. That means they’ll swing open on their own.
Sure, the concept of a ghost in your home is scary, but foundation problems are even scarier. You need to be serious about these cabinets moving seemingly on their own. It could be a sign that your foundation needs fixing.
Reasons to Schedule a Structural Damage Inspection With JES
If you’re starting to see these signs of structural damage, especially if you see more than one, you need to get in touch with a JES expert. However, some people aren’t as convinced that you need to do it the moment you start seeing problems.
The fact is, early intervention can be extremely beneficial. Here are just a few reasons why.
Structural Damage Can Turn Serious Quickly
How long does it take a house to settle? Obviously, this happens over a very long period of time. Typically, the process doesn’t progress overnight. The thing is, you have no way of knowing where you are in the process.
The external signs of structural damage to a house don’t always match what’s actually happening to the foundation. Even if it seems like it’s not a big deal, you should contact a JES expert for a free inspection to make sure you tackle it as soon as possible.
Foundation Problems Can Be Deadly
Frankly, it’s dangerous to just ignore problems that could be due to the foundation. The foundation keeps your family safe. If you ignore foundation problems, including everything from hairline wall cracks to obvious mold in the floor joists, you’re setting your family up for an impact if the foundation ends up with serious problems.
It’s much safer to instead tackle these foundation problems as early as possible. When you’re having house settling issues, it almost always means you’re dealing with foundation problems that you need to fix. A JES expert can walk you through fixing these problems.
Early Damage Can Be Much Cheaper to Fix
It’s frightening to consider how expensive it might be to fix a structural problem. Does home insurance cover structural problems? How much is it going to cost? What’s my best route forward? If you wait until the absolute last minute to fix your structural problems, it’s actually probably going to cost a lot more.
Problems that have progressed further often require much more invasive fixes, which can be exponentially more expensive than early fixes. Plus, some home insurance companies only cover a certain amount of certain types of fixes, which means you want to keep those costs to a minimum.
How Much Foundation Settling Is Normal?
To some extent, foundation settling is something that will happen naturally. After all, your foundation is handling a massive amount of weight. However, if you’re noticing a significant number of cracks, an uneven floor, or very deep cracks in your foundation, there may be a problem with the foundation as a whole.
How Do You Tell If Your Foundation Is Cracked?
What is considered a bad foundation crack? It can be hard to differentiate between settling cracks in your new construction and a crack that may need a foundation repair expert. For the most part, if the crack is more than 1/16th of an inch wide, you should seek an expert’s advice.
Why Is My House Foundation Cracking?
Are foundation cracks normal? First of all, remember that settling cracks in new construction can occur with no fear; up to around a year after building the foundation, you may see small hairline cracks. However, hydrostatic pressure, high levels of indoor humidity, or poor construction can cause foundation cracking problems.
How Can I Fix Cracks in My Walls from House Settling?
Your options for wall and floor structure repair depend largely on the extent of the cracks and whether you’re having any other problems with your foundation. When you schedule an inspection with a foundation repair expert, you’ll be able to discuss the foundation problems you’re having and come to an understanding of your options for fixing them.
Let the Experts From JES Help You With Home Structural Repair
It’s hard to deal with home structural repair on your own. You probably can’t do your own structural damage inspection because you need very particular tools that you likely don’t have access to and don’t know how to use.
Foundation Repair in Virginia, Maryland, DC
Instead of struggling through this process on your own, let JES help you through it. The experts at JES know what they’re doing, and they’re great at it. A JES expert will let you know what’s wrong and how to fix it. If it doesn’t require an invasive and expensive fix, they won’t recommend it.
At JES, every client gets the best possible treatment because every client is like family. Contact JES today to schedule your free structural damage inspection.