Unless there is a known problem with a home’s foundation, most homeowners don’t give it a second thought. That could be dangerous and costly. Ignoring the signs of foundation problems means they could get worse, leading to potential structural damage. Potential Buyers (and homeowners) should know how to recognize the five signs of house foundation problems.
Slightly uneven floors usually aren’t noticeable, but floors that slope dramatically, dip, sag or are uneven are sure signs a foundation has shifted. Doors and windows that don’t open or close correctly or need extra muscle to open or close are probably the result of a failing foundation.
Cracks are one of the more visible signs of foundation damage. While vertical cracks may related to a house settling, horizontal cracks mean a buildup of water pressure behind a foundation. Initially, cracks may be very small enough to go unnoticed, but they get bigger as the foundation problems worsen.
When there is a noticeable separation between the interior walls and the ceiling or between the interior walls and the floor, there is a foundation problem. Other indicators are when door or window frames separate from the trim around them, a patio or porch separates from the house or a garage separates from the pavement.
Outside the home, look for broken bricks, bricks with mortar separation or cracks in a stair-step pattern. Brick walls may lean or move and there may be cracks in the bricks and mortar around windows and doors. Cracked and loosened bricks may also cause chimneys to lean.
Recognizing these five signs of foundation problems is the first step in maintaining the structural integrity of a home. The second step is to have a thorough home inspection by a foundation professional who knows the difference between a foundation settling and one that needs foundation repair. Having a professional also helps the homeowner learn if any previous foundation repair work was done properly. Quality foundation professionals guarantee their work.
Anyone buying a house should ask their real estate agent to help find a trusted and reliable foundation inspector to examine any potential purchases. An attorney can provide legal guidance in getting a full guarantee from the home’s seller that the property’s foundation is not damaged or failing.