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Foundation Problems

These windows are so hard to open. What does that crack in the wall mean? Why is this floor becoming uneven? Why are nails popping out of the sheetrock and in those corners? These are just some of the questions that a quarter-million homeowners annually are faced with. But are these occurrences typical and normal in every house, to be expected and unconcerned about or are they signals of a more serious issue?

It can be difficult for today's homeowners to recognize if their house is in need of foundation repair. The answer of course is best determined by a professional foundation repair contractor. Early warning signs do exist, however, and some can be detected without a microscopic look; simply paying attention to everyday tasks provides important clues. Below is a list of signs to look for.

  • Exterior indications of foundation problems
  • Doors that do not open or close properly
  • Gaps at the corner of fascia trim
  • Diagonal cracks in the wall at corners of doors and windows
  • Gaps between the garage door and the pavement at either side of the garage door
  • Windows that are difficult to open and close
  • Cracks in the exposed grade beam of the house
  • Cracks in bricks and mortar
  • Interior indications of foundation problems
  • Uneven floors
  • Large cracks in the concrete slab
  • Gaps above kitchen cabinets
  • Cabinet doors that will not stay shut
  • Diagonal cracks in the wall at corners of doors and windows
  • Curling, tearing and separating of wallpaper and existing sheetrock repairs
  • Leaks and cracks in and around the fireplace

Exterior or interior indications of foundation problems could be caused by either settlement or upheaval.

Settlement means a portion of the house foundation has dropped below the original foundation elevation. This occurs due to a loss of soil bearing capacity caused by compaction of fill, loss of moisture in the supporting soil, or due to the erosion of the supporting soil. In many cases, settlement originates and is more pronounced at the perimeter of the slab since the slab perimeter is the most susceptible to the loss of moisture and differential moisture conditions.

Upheaval means the slab has risen above the original foundation elevation. This happens most often due to the introduction of moisture under the foundation. The most frequent cause of this moisture is a plumbing leak under the slab. The most common leak is on the drain side of the plumbing system.

Note that some damage is strictly "cosmetic" damage that does not interfere with the foundation's load bearing capacity. These "cosmetic" items could be cracks in floor tiles, cracks in sheetrock, or similar situations. A qualified foundation repair contractor can help you determine if the problems you are faced with are cosmetic or will require foundation repair.

Foundation problems only worsen with time. The sooner they are addressed, the less costly they will be. Properly done by a reputable foundation repair contractor, foundation repairs are essential to protecting your biggest investment, your home's value and your family.

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