For many Americans, a home is the single largest purchase they will ever make. It’s for this reason that it pays to ensure that it’s well maintained.
A big part of home maintenance revolves around checking your foundation. A home’s foundation supports the structural load of your house. Its purpose is to prevent the home from moving. Without a proper foundation, countless structural issues can plague your home. At worst, your home could crumble.
Foundation problems come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are obvious, while others are not. When inspecting your home’s foundation for damage, it pays to have a checklist. A checklist will help you ensure that you don’t miss a step in your inspection process.
For this reason, we decided to put together this home foundation inspection checklist:
1. Check for cracks and fissures
Obvious signs of foundation damage are cracks. However, these are also the hardest to interpret. Cracks usually occur as a result of differential settling. Essentially, differential settlement occurs when a building’s piers or foundation settles unequally.
In North Texas, settlement occurs when the soil, usually expansive clay soil, beneath the house expands and contracts. Not all cracks are created equal, though. Some are serious while others are not.
Check if your home shows any of these signs:
- Cracks in which one edge juts out from the rest of the wall or floor
- Non-uniform cracks that are wider at the bottom or top
- Horizontal cracks on foundation walls
- Cracks that extend into the base of the foundation floor
- Staircase cracks that zigzag
- Vertical cracks on the interior or exterior walls
If you see any of the signs listed above, have your foundation inspected by a professional immediately. With foundation problems, the longer you wait, the more serious the problem gets.
2. Check for moisture, mold and poor drainage
Foundation damage may be structural or non-structural. Structural damages are caused by many different factors, like overloading, swollen soil, and poor construction sites.
Non-structural damage may appear in your foundation that does not present a threat to the structural integrity of your home. This typically occurs due to minor shifting of the soil, tree roots, and hydrostatic pressure.
The following are telltale signs that your home could be experiencing foundation damage.
- Extreme changes in the water composition of your surrounding soil
If your yard goes from dry to wet surprisingly quickly, have your foundation checked. Your home’s foundation could be experiencing too much pressure. This often happens in areas with expansive clay soils like here in Texas.
- House surrounded by stagnant water
This may be a sign of poor drainage. If this is left unaddressed, this could easily impact your foundation negatively.
3. Check for plumbing damage
Moisture is the number one cause of foundation damage. If you suspect the plumbing is damaged, call a plumbing professional immediately. Left unattended, plumbing leaks can lead to foundation upheaval.
4. Check your floors
In this step, walk through your home and take note of any abrupt changes on the floor. For example, bouncing, sagging, bowing or cracks. As a result, gaps may form between the wall and the floor, or wall and ceiling.
To check whether your floors are sloped or not, use a tennis or golf ball. On a level floor, the ball will barely move. However, on a sloped floor, it will naturally move. The faster it moves, the more serious the problem. If this is the case, be sure to call a professional to inspect your foundation.
5. Inspect your doors and windows
Whenever an opening is created or cut in a wall, such as a window or a door, it becomes the weakest point in the wall. As such, windows and doors are usually the first to display signs of foundation damage.
The following are things to be on the lookout for:
- A window or door separating from the exterior finish or framing.
- Drywall cracks extending from the corners of windows and doors.
- Wall and floor gaps, or gaps between the frame and window or door.
- Stuck, hard-to-open windows and doors. This could also result from high precipitation levels if you have wooden window frames or tight fitting doors. However, if the problem doesn’t go away after some time, it’s likely the foundation is damaged.
6. Inspect your home’s exterior
Walk around your home to look for signs of movement or shifting, particularly around patios and chimneys. Chimneys share a common foundation with the rest of the house. Watch for gaps between the chimney and exterior wall.
A chimney built on a weak foundation is very heavy and susceptible to separation from the house near the top.
7. Check the foundation itself
Does it look damaged? Do you see any discoloration or cracks? If you have reasons to believe it’s damaged, please call a foundation repair specialist immediately.
Homeowners who neglect home foundation problems can face severe and costly damages to their home. If you notice any of the problems aforementioned, please make sure you contact a qualified foundation repair company.