Minor issues are often expected in an older home and are typically simple to fix. Other times, problems with the home’s foundation can lead to more severe problems. Jammed doors and windows, sloped or creaky floors, and cracked floor tiles can all be signs of a foundation that is sinking due to subsidence or soil compaction. Foundation repair is necessary to prevent problems from worsening, but may not have reached a state where the house is at imminent risk of structural damage. However, in the most severe circumstances you’ve got a foundation emergency on your hands. Give immediate attention to a home’s critically-damaged foundation. Here are five signs your home’s foundation may need emergency repair:
1. THE HOME IS NEW
Problems that are minor in older homes may be cause for alarm in new construction. Cracked stucco or bricks, cracked interior walls and creaky floors are expected in old homes. In a new home these can signify that the foundation is settling faster than normal and is settling unevenly. Incomplete soil compaction during construction can cause this, as can an improperly designed or poured foundation, or insufficient drainage of water near the house.
A foundation is extremely important and comprises up to 15% of the home’s construction cost. Problems that show up soon after construction might be the result of poor construction practices. These problems, unfortunately, will only worsen and could substantially shorten the home’s lifetime. On the other hand, if you bought the home directly from the developer, the home may still be under warranty. Acting quickly to have a foundation repair contractor inspect the home’s foundation could allow the foundation contractor to bill the developer for any home foundation repair services.
2. CRACKS ARE GROWING
Growing cracks are a sign that foundation repair is needed sooner rather than later. Look for cracks that seem to be growing in width, propagating in length, or branching out into new cracks. Be sure to monitor cracks in walls, garage floors, or the visible parts of the foundation if you find them. If they are visibly growing in width, length, or quantity, the foundation may still be settling. Repair them to avoid leading to additional damage down the road. For example, as cracks widen, water leaks can develop, damaging the interior of the home.
3. THE HOUSE IS LEANING
A house may visibly lean due to either leaning walls or bulging walls. Either situation may be a sign that emergency foundation repair is necessary to prevent severe damage to the home’s frame or even collapse.
When walls begin to lean or bulge, their ability to hold up the house is compromised. Think about a house made from toy blocks: one block that is tilted rather than vertical can cause the entire weight of the toy house to shift, leading to collapse. This may be an oversimplification when talking about a real house, but the principle is the same. Once the weight of the house shifts, the weight of the house will try to pull the house apart rather than holding it together.
4. THE ROOF IS WAVY
They may not seem connected, but severe foundation problems can cause the roof to twist or bow. A twisted or bowed roof can allow water to leak into the house, causing water damage to the framing and drywall. In addition to foundation repair, a roof that is permanently damaged will need roof repair or replacement. Be sure to repair the foundation before the roof is permanently damaged so you can save substantial money.
5. FLOODING IN BASEMENT
Water leaks are concerning, but not necessarily an emergency. Standing water in a basement is potentially a foundation emergency. Standing water could signify a major foundation problem. Moreover, standing water that reaches the electrical wiring can pose a severe risk of electrocution or fire.
Signs like growing cracks, leaning or bulging walls, wavy roof, and flooding, particularly in new construction, can result from severe foundation damage that may require emergency foundation repair.
THE FINAL WORD
Older homes will almost always develop some wall cracks or have some water in the basement. Often, these are annoying, but not necessarily critical to the structural soundness of the home. In particular, if these problems are minor and do not seem to worsen over time, it is possible that the amount of settling minor and can be addressed by patching cracks and basement waterproofing.
You can expect some minor issues due to a home’s age, which can be easily repaired. Others can indicate a far more severe issue. Knowing the difference between the two is important. When in doubt, contact foundation professionals like Guardian Foundation Repair for assessment and repair. We’re here to help you avoid a potentially costly and devastating foundation emergency.