Foundation damage in Portland can occur from an isolated event, like a flood or earthquake. However, many foundation problems start small and get worse over time. As such, there are a few things you can do to ensure you identify foundation problems quickly.
Inspect Your Foundation Regularly
Portland home foundations are under attack regularly from heavy rainfall, flooding, and earthquakes. Some of these events may seem normal to you, but they can cause damage to the concrete that supports your house. Inspecting your foundation routinely is an excellent way to keep an eye out for signs of minor damage that could worsen.
If you have a basement or crawlspace, a thorough visual inspection once every three to four months can help identify potential weaknesses that need to be addressed. Check for cracks, efflorescence, uneven floors, and bowing foundation walls.
Be sure to check for moisture build-up on walls, ducts, or pipes under your home, as well as mold growth or musty odors. If in doubt of the severity of any damage, ask a professional for more information.
You can do a preventative check of your home by ensuring your sump pump is functioning, clearing clogs from outdoor drainage systems, and making sure the ground around your home is sloped appropriately away from the foundation walls.
Check for puddling around your home during rainfall, as this can be a sign of poor drainage and precursor to foundation damage.
If you have a slab foundation, complete a thorough exterior inspection of the concrete visible under your home. Instability due to heavy runoff and earthquake activity can cause crumbling, cracking, or sinking slabs, particularly around the corners of your home.
Many Portland properties are set into sloped properties and have walk-out basements. If this is the case with your home, check both the interior and exterior foundation walls that are visible, and pay special attention to the wall that backs the highest elevation on your land. This is generally where the most runoff will accumulate and create problems.
Any damage discovered should be reported to a foundation repair contractor. Many offer free inspections and can determine if your issue needs to be addressed.
Check the Other Levels In Your Home
Since your entire house relies on your foundation for a level base, there are several things you can look for in your first and second floors that can indicate foundation problems.
The floor joists throughout your home sit on beams and studs supported directly by your foundation. As such, uneven or wavy floors in the above-ground levels of your home could indicate that seismic activity or moisture issues common to Portland have created foundational instability.
Similarly, the framing behind your walls can shift if your foundation is damaged from the risks we’ve discussed above. Signs of framing shifts include nails popping out of your drywall, walls bulging in or bowing out in your upper floors, and cabinets or countertops pulling away from walls.
Inspect Your Windows and Doors
The ground movement from seismic activity in Portland can leave portions of your foundation unsupported. As concrete gets stressed from this lack of support, it can cause your home’s framing to become unlevel.
Even small movements can often be seen around door and window frames. As the sturdy frames shift, the far less durable sheetrock cracks to allow for movement. Diagonal cracking in the drywall extending from the corners of your doors and windows is often a sign of foundation damage.
You may also notice that multiple doors or windows get stuck and are challenging to open and close if the frames shift.
Get a Radon Test
Since Portland homes are at high risk of radon, you should get your home tested regularly for the presence of the gas.
Radon testing can give you some peace of mind but also indicate potential water damage as well. Radon can enter the area under your home similarly to runoff and groundwater, so detecting radon can get you started on a solution for limiting the gas in your home and also finding weak spots that could be allowing rainwater in during heavy precipitation.
Due to the dangerous nature of the gas, you may need a certified inspector to test before you hire a foundation repair expert to seal and protect your home.