The underlying problems we discussed above can present many different symptoms in and around your foundation, each indicating a specific issue.
Cracks in Your Foundation
Foundation cracks are clear signs of damage and typically suggest that some action should be taken on your part to have them repaired. There are various cracks that can form, most of which only apply if you have a crawlspace or basement foundation. We’ll discuss each of the types below.
Vertical Wall Crack or Floor Cracks
Hairline cracks form in most crawlspace and basement foundations during settling. Settling cracks are thin and located on the floor or your concrete block wall, running vertically. A foundation repair contractor should seal these to prevent water intrusion, but they aren’t a significant cause for concern.
Horizontal Wall Cracks
Wall cracks that are parallel with the ground can form on basement or crawlspace walls in response to hydrostatic pressure from San Antonio’s expansive soil. These suggest that your home’s structural integrity has been compromised, so they require immediate repair.
Stair-step cracks form in a step formation on concrete block walls, so they’re only a problem if you have a crawlspace or basement foundation. These indicate that the expansive soil has dried and retracted from a portion of the foundation, leading to differential settling. This can be a very severe issue and should be addressed immediately.
Slab Foundation Cracks
Most homeowners in San Antonio have a slab foundation, so they won’t have access to the area under their home. However, slabs aren’t safe from the risk of cracking. Gaps can form even on slabs built on-grade. They typically appear around the corners of your house and may look like inpidual cracks or crumbling concrete.
These most commonly form in San Antonio’s dry season when the expansive soil loses moisture, decreases in volume, and shrinks away from the foundation. As sections of your concrete lose support from underneath, they settle into the earth under the weight of the structure above, leaving visible damage behind. Slab cracks are significant problems and usually indicate structural damage.
Moist or Wet Basement
If you have a basement or crawlspace foundation in San Antonio, moisture problems could indicate damage to your concrete. The expansive soil in the area presents significant water and moisture problems for foundation walls during the wet season.
As the soil gets wet, it holds an excessive amount of runoff against your concrete for extended periods. Eventually, the water wicks through the concrete and evaporates under your home, or it seeps in through foundation cracks.
Regardless of how water gets in, it can cause water damage and mold growth beneath your house. If you notice pooling on your crawlspace or basement floor, damp air or musty odors when you enter the under-home area, or mold spores, you likely have a water intrusion issue. If you have a water vapor problem, you might notice efflorescence. This is a white, powdery residue on your concrete walls left behind by evaporating water.
Unlevel Floors in Your Home
Lastly, buckling, bowing, or unlevel floors in your home can indicate foundation damage. Your house relies on your foundation for structure and a level base, but any type of foundation movement common in San Antonio can warp, bow, or shift the floor joists in your living space.
This is a common symptom found in homes built slab-on-grade in Texas, as the slab underneath can easily get pushed upward or sink into the earth in response to soil movement. The wet season in Texas can cause sections of your slab to lift, while the dry season leaves your foundation settling at different rates. The constant expansion and shrinking of soil can quickly warp your floor joists.