Foundations are relatively resilient to minor ground movement and water infiltration, so damages occur and develop over time rather than in an isolated incidence. As a small issue worsens, it typically becomes more costly to repair and more dangerous.
The best way to limit the resulting damages and repair costs is to identify it early before it becomes severe. Below, we’ll detail an inspection process you can carry out every few months to monitor developing problems.
Inspect Your Foundation
Your inspection should begin with the most likely location for damages: the concrete under your home. If you have a slab foundation, you can look for cracking or signs of sinking on the exterior of your house. Damages are most likely to occur around the corners of your structure, but it’s best to inspect the entirety of your foundation thoroughly to be safe.
If you have a basement or crawlspace, your inspection can be a bit more extensive. Look for cracks in your concrete walls and floor, and record length and width measurements of each gap you find so that you can compare on your next inspection. Report cracks that lengthen, widen, or occur horizontally or in a step pattern to a foundation repair contractor immediately.
While you’re under your home, take note of moist or heavy air, musty smells, visible mold growth, efflorescence, signs of insects or rodents taking up residence in the area, puddles on the floor, wet spots on the concrete, and water damage to framing, sheetrock, flooring, and insulation you may have in the space.
Inspect Your Home’s Interior
Foundation movement affects your entire house, so symptoms of hydrostatic pressure and differential settling typically appear on your home’s interior as well. Walkthrough your living space and look for signs of shifted framing, including doors and windows that are hard to open or close, sheetrock cracks around wall openings or room corners, walls that aren’t plumb, nails bulging out of the drywall, and cabinets separating or leaning away from the wall.
You should also inspect your flooring for signs of buckling, sagging, or sloping, as your floor joists can dip or warp if the concrete underneath shifts.
Lastly, take a few minutes to review your utility bills for increases, as you and your family may unknowingly turn up the heat or air conditioning to compensate for the humidity caused by water intrusion.
Mold spores from under your home can enter your living space as well, so ask your family members if they’ve experienced unusual allergy symptoms, which are a common reaction to mold in the air.
Inspect Your Home’s Exterior
Lastly, there are several symptoms that can appear outside that can indicate and even predict foundation issues.
Sagging roofing, leaning chimneys, and fissures in brick, stone, or stucco siding can all result from foundation movement and should be reported to a concrete repair specialist.
Dips in your lawn, puddling on your property following rainfall, and leaning retaining walls or raised garden bed walls can all be signs of differential settling, poor drainage, or expanding soil on your property. These problems can often predict if your foundation is at risk of damage.