Serious structural problems with a home can be a homeowner’s disaster. Foundation issues can get worse over time, reduce the value of a home, and repairs can be a very costly and invasive process. Extensive damage can cost in the ten’s of thousands of dollars to repair. If you are a homeowner, or in the market for a new home, you should know what to look for and be able to spot the four most common signs of home foundation damage.
1. Cracks in the floor, walls or foundation
The most obvious sign of foundation issues are cracks in the foundation, walls, floors or even ceilings. This is an indication that there has been movement in the foundation and the weight of the home has produced uneven tension, causing cracks and fissures.
2. Uneven or Sloping Floors
Another pretty clear sign that there has been settling or movement in the foundation is uneven floors. The more uneven the floor, the more the foundation has moved. Sometimes it is readily apparent that a floor is sloped. Othertimes, you’ll need to carefully inspect where the floor meets a wall or a wall meets the ceiling to notice movement. Most older homes settle over time and there is bound to be movement, but significant movement or movement in newer construction could be an indication of a problem. Another good trick for determining uneven floors is to bring along a marble and place it at various spots in the room to see if it rolls one way or another. Foundation problems also can cause hardwood flooring to warp and floor tiles to crack.
3. Doors & Windows Won’t Open Or Close Properly
When doors and windows are installed, they are very carefully plumbed and leveled so that they close smoothly and snugly in order to reduce drafts or heat loss. Movement in the foundation can warp or distress door and window frames to the point that they no longer close tightly. This is another sign of foundation movement.
4. Musty odor in the home or basement
A lot of people think of musty odors as being typical with basements, but the fact is that an excessive smell or musty odor could be a strong indication that there are foundation cracks and leaks allowing moisture to seep through. Moisture can seep into the foundation, freeze and expand in the winter, and create even more problems.
Armed with the knowledge of how to spot common signs of home foundation damage, homeowners, or those shoppping for a new home, can better assess the situation. If you notice one or all of these problems, have a foundation inspection performed by a qualified repair specialist to determine if they indicate serious foundation troubles.
Peter Wendt is a freelance writer and researcher living and working in Texas. After having to pay a fortune for home foundation repair in Austin, he strongly encourages others to take steps to spot foundation problems early before they become expensive.