Foundation damage varies from structure to structure and based on the underlying cause, so you may notice many different symptoms throughout your home. We’ll discuss the most common signs of a foundation problem below.
The concrete under most homes will crack at some point after new construction, usually within the first few years as it settles into the earth. However, not all cracks are harmless, and some can indicate immense structural damage and instability. Below are the typical types of fissures you’ll find, along with their likely cause.
Slab or Basement Floor Cracks
Whether they serve as a standalone foundation or the floor of your crawlspace or basement, concrete slabs are prone to cracking as they settle under your home after new construction. The result of minimal, healthy slab movement is typically a series of hairline cracks on the surface. Settling cracks on the slab surface are thin and level, and the only problem they typically cause is water intrusion. As such, a sealant should be applied to these gaps.
If the fissures on your slab widen or have one side sinking below the other, differential settling is more likely to be the culprit. This type of foundation crack requires structural stabilization in most cases.
Vertical cracks on the exterior of your slab or the interior of your concrete block wall result from normal settling most of the time. Due to the risk of water intrusion and moisture accumulation in Georgia, most Athens homeowners have a foundation repair contractor seal these gaps with epoxy or polyurethane.
Horizontal Wall Cracks
Horizontal wall cracks can appear on your crawlspace or basement if you have issues with hydrostatic pressure from the surrounding soil. This is a widespread problem plaguing many homes throughout Athens because of the high clay content in the ground.
If you find these cracks, you’ll likely need wall stabilization to restore your foundation’s structural integrity and crack repair to avoid a wet basement.
Stair-Step Wall Cracks
Cracks in the shape of stair steps on your crawlspace or basement walls develop most often from differential settlement of the soil under your home. The lower portion of the wall is likely sinking along with a section of your slab, so concrete leveling and structural repair are required. These gaps are generally the most expensive to repair.
Bowing Foundation Walls
When the hydrostatic pressure on the outside of your foundation increases from the expanding soil, your foundation walls can bow inward slightly. This inward movement signifies that a horizontal crack will form at some point in the future, so it should be addressed as quickly as possible.
Any movement of your concrete walls can trigger the bowing or warping of the building materials above. You may notice changes to the sheetrock throughout your living space, including cracking, leaning, and bulging.
Water Intrusion or Moisture Build-Up
Water and moisture problems abound in Athens and the surrounding areas because of the above-average rainfall and highly expansive soil. There are various symptoms you might notice throughout your home if you have a leaking foundation below.
Standing water, puddles, wet spots on the concrete, visible water, moist or heavy air, mold growth, musty smells, pest infestation, and efflorescence on the concrete walls all signify a water issue under your home.
Many homeowners who have high humidity or liquid water in their crawlspace or basement also find that the humidity in their living area increases. Uncomfortably hot or cold air or increases in utility bills all point to under-home water or water vapor problems.
Lastly, mold spores that grow in humid spaces beneath your first floor can seep upstairs and cause allergic reactions. As such, you may have a water issue if you experience indoor allergy symptoms.