Spotting Problems With Your Foundation
For obvious reasons, your home’s foundation is probably one of the most important areas to which you should always be paying close attention. For some less obvious reasons (not the least of which is Chiberia 2014), your foundation should be priority number one right now.
All the freezing and thawing we’ve endured this past winter has wrecked havoc on concrete (explaining the growing pothole jungle out there on Chicagoland right now) and that includes our homes’ foundations.
Here are a few warning signs your foundation is in need of some serious TLC:
Foundations can either rise or fall depending upon the pressure or lack thereof applied upon the foundation and there are a few signs that yours has traversed well beyond the normal shifts a home’s foundation endures over the years.
Sagging Floors: One sure sign that the foundation has shifted a great deal is a floor that seems to sag or tilt in one direction or another. Using a level can give you a more accurate picture of your floor’s condition. But if you have hardwood floors, you can simply place a marble in the center of the floor and allow it to roll. A marble that rolls significantly indicates a floor that is sagging well beyond typically settling.
Cracks in the Foundation: If you examine your foundation wall, you can find small signs of a significant shift in the cracks that result in expanding soil near the foundation allowing the walls to shift in one direction or another. These cracks resemble staircases and can eventually lead to fill on leaks that cause further damage to your home.
Bowed Load Bearing Walls: Load bearing walls that bulge or are bowed offer a clear sign of a foundation problem. Load bearing walls do just that, bear the weight of the structure above it. It’s not something you want to if ignore. If you find a significant bulge in a load bearing wall, call a structural engineering firm immediately.
Crawl Space Issues: If your home has a crawl space, and there is moisture in it, it’s likely that water has leaked through the foundation walls, spelling trouble for your home. Also, should wooden posts and protrude out of their foundation piers that could spell trouble. The piers and crawl space in general should be free of rot and moisture.
Indoor Indicators: Cracks in walls are a sign that the home is shifting. Lots of lengthy cracks that seem to crawl like a staircase can signify trouble with your foundation. Other warning signs are windows that no longer close or open easily. And doors that get stuck when closed or have difficulty closing at all.
Again, every home will shift here and there over the years. But significant movement is a warning sign that something is amiss. Call a structural engineer of you find any or all of the above warning signs. They can diagnose the problem and offer solutions that will extend the life of your home and give you longer term peace of mind.
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