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Common Signs of Foundation Problems

Posted by Justin Havre on Friday, November 2nd, 2018 at 1:30pm.

Common Signs of Foundation ProblemsAre you seeing small cracks begin to form over windows or doors? Your home's foundation may need some attention. Canadian homeowners who want to protect the equity in their homes need to find out more about signs of foundation damage.

Avoid a costly repair down the road when choosing to address early signs of foundation damage. Learn more about signs of foundation damage, types of foundation cracks and other common questions today.

What Are Some Initial Signs of Foundation Damage?

A cracked wall may not be an indication of serious foundation damage as some older homes will experience unevenness and settle over time. However, there are some obvious signs of foundation damage and an experienced structural engineer can provide more information of the scope of any foundation problems. Signs of a problem with a home's foundation include:

  • When doors start to jam or will not latch properly;
  • The formation of cracks over doorways and where walls and ceilings meet;
  • Ceramic tiles over concrete flooring developing cracks; and
  • When windows will not close completely or begin to stick.

The larger the crack, the more it may take to repair a crack an existing foundation problem. Signs of foundation settlement include:

  • Stair-step cracking
  • Tilting chimneys
  • Slab floor cracking
  • Drywall cracks

When it comes to stair-step cracks, cracks that appear narrower at the bottom than the top are a sign of advanced settlement. Vertical and horizontal cracks should be professionally inspected to decide on the best course of action should there be a foundation issue.

Does Every Crack Matter?

When concrete cures and cannot shrink evenly, cracks may form. Block foundations and concrete generally do have a few cracks. Some cracks are a problem and others are not. Cracks that are not a big issue include hairline cracks in the foundation's mortar and cracks that have formed at an L-shape section. However, horizontal cracks and cracks in masonry joints are more serious concerns.

How Can Homeowners Solve Foundation Problems?

This depends on the type of issue occurring with the foundation. When concrete has cracks and it is easy to chip it away, a homeowner may incur significant costs to replace the foundation. Not every homeowner needs to lay out for such a surprise expense. It is possible to fix foundation settlement problems in your East Calgary home with the installation of foundations piers to permanently stabilize the home, in certain instances.

What Steps Need to Be Taken to Repair Foundation Damage?

Whether home foundation damage is clearly visible to the naked eye or if a professional inspection has revealed deeper problems, getting repairs quickly is essential to the integrity of the home. To begin the repair process, one needs to know what type of foundation they have and determine whether it’s feasible as a DIY project or whether a professional should be contacted.

Overall, do-it-yourself foundation repairs are generally limited to non-permanent repairs and cosmetic damage, and certain types are simpler to fix than others. Minor cracks from shrinkage can often be repaired with sealants or patches, but errors during the process can result in future damage. Furthermore, there are often local and national building codes that must be met, so even when doing DIY foundation repairs, it’s best to consult a professional to ensure the repairs meet legal standards.

However, more serious structural issues such as vertical foundation movement will require professional foundation repair. Often caused by frost heaves, settling soil and natural forces like floods or earthquakes, most sinking or shifting foundations are resolved by pros through piering or slabjacking depending on the type of material originally used in its construction.

Does a Home Suddenly Become Inhabitable?

Homeowners can continue to live many years with a damaged foundation at its earliest stages. Many do not even know that a foundation may be cracked or damage. Generally speaking, many types of foundation problems continue to progress without professional attention. The problem comes when it is time to sell a home. It may be difficult to get full value for a home with a cracked or damaged foundation. Homeowners that fail to address the issue may have to decrease their asking price in order to sell a home to an interested buyer.

How Much Will It Cost to Repair a Foundation Problem?

First of all, an inspection with a structural engineer can cost a homeowner from $500 to $700, without the expense of an engineered solution or foundation repair costs. Repairs may be less expensive than anticipated and much depends on the type of problem that has occurred. Hire a specialist to find out the reason for any foundation damage and to begin to make any needed foundation repairs.

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