Let’s say you’re getting ready to close on a house. The inspection comes back and they have evidence of foundation problems.
What are you going to do? If you’re like most buyers, you’ll back out of the deal. Or you’d at least rescind your offer and drop it lower.
Now, what would happen if you’re the seller of the home that has foundation problems? If you don’t fix them, there’s a lot of disappointment in your future.
How do you know if you have them? You could call an inspector but start with this common problems list first.
Foundation Problems: What and Where to Look
Different types of houses have different kinds of foundation. It has to do with the builder’s preference and the type of soil.
The south, for example, has very soft soil, which makes digging basements hard. Homes in the south likely have a slab or a crawlspace foundation.
But homes in the West and the NE can get away with basement foundations. Either finished or unfinished. Knowing what type of foundation you have will help you along this troubleshooting journey.
If you have a basement, you’ll know that. But if you have a new home – do you know if it has a crawl space? Look at the bottom of the house. If there’s lattice and stairs up to the door, there’s probably a crawl space.
If the home and the ground meet, then you likely have a concrete slab on grade foundation. This is where they dig down to flatten the ground, then pour flat concrete in the shape of the house.
Common Foundation Issues
Once you’ve identified the type of foundation you have, you can start looking for the common issues below. If you find something or have suspicions, it’s best to call a house inspector to help you confirm.
1. Look for Cracks
Not the kind that will hurt your mom if you step on them. The kind that are in the walls and in unfinished floor areas of your home, like the garage.
If you see cracks in your garage floor of parts of your driveway or walkway popping up, that’s bad news.
Wall wise, it’s normal for your home to develop 1/16th of inch cracks. This comes from the settling of the home into the foundation. It’s like a very slight sinking.
But if it’s any more than that, you should worry. Gaps and horizontal cracks in brick exterior warrant concern. And they don’t have to be large. Even a 1/4 of an inch wide crack can denote a huge issue.
Vertical cracks aren’t that much of an issue, so you don’t need to worry. If you see a few vertical cracks, you can write them off.
But not diagonal ones! Diaganol cracks that look like a 45-degree angle are even worse than horizontal cracks. It means your foundation hasn’t just shifted, it really moved!
If you don’t address it, the sheetrock in your walls can rip and tear. Your house will start to fall apart inside your walls.
2. A Sinking Sensation
What happens when you roll a ball across your floor? Does it go faster on one side? Does it seem to you like one side of your home is sinking into the ground?
That’s entirely possible. Foundations do sink and crack. If you live in an area that’s prone to sinkholes, then it’s even more common. It’s not impossible to fix a home that has sinking or settlement issues, but you need to see to it fast.
To fix this foundation problem, professionals will install what are called lifts. Think of them like the car jacks you use when you change a tire. They crank up the space where your house is sinking or settled.
You will need to list whatever lifts you had done on your property and let potential owners know about them once you list the house.
3. Weird Doors
Does your front door stick or seem like it’s on uneven hinges? That’s a sign of foundation damage. It’s more likely to effect exterior doors, but don’t write it off if you note changes inside.
If it’s just rained or it’s especially humid, then don’t rush to call the inspector. Doors often stick in times of high humidity.
But if there haven’t been any major weather changes and you notice cracks or other uneven-ness, call a professional ASAP.
4. Separating Counters
If you have kitchen cabinets and counters that are built up to the walls and you notice them distancing themselves from each other, that’s a foundation issue.
And it’s a major one at that. If you even suspect that they’re separating, call an inspector. The farther they are from the wall – the more advanced the foundation issue is.
5. Foundation Upheaval
Sinking isn’t the only threat to your foundation. It can also push your floors and home upward. This is called foundation upheaval and it’s common in areas with a lot of moisture.
If an inspector confirms that you do have upheaval, you may want to call a plumber. Leaky plumbing is one of the most common upheaval causes.
Common Foundation Problems
If you suspect you have any of the above foundation problems, it’s not a wait and see if it gets worse kind of thing. You need to get your foundation issues treated now.
Calling a home inspector is your first step. Then, follow the advice they give you in a timely manner to finish solving the problem.
Your house will be sellable and liveable again in no time! Ready to get answers? Schedule an inspection here.