The integrity of your home’s foundation is critical for sustaining the stability of the structure. If your foundation develops problems, they should be addressed quickly to prevent more serious issues. These issues could include uneven and broken flooring, leaning and cracked walls, crooked windows and doors, or even a partial collapse. However, if you pay attention to your foundation, you can catch the signs that it’s failing before the rest of your home suffers damage. Here are some things to look for that may be signs of foundational damage.
The first potential signs of foundation damage include crumbling. This is not the fine dust that is commonly found on concrete over time and can be usually swept up without leaving a residue. Piles of deteriorating dust or scattered debris around the floor or trickling down the concrete block walls could signal a problem that is developing over time and needs to be checked.
The issue may be the chemicals or minerals in the concrete. Recently, homes in Connecticut were found to have pyrrhotite in the concrete that formed the foundation. This mineral caused foundations to crumble, and now hundreds of homeowners are requesting assistance for the costs of repairing and replacing their damaged foundations.
Larger chunks or pieces of foundational breakage could be an isolated issue that is fairly easy to repair. It can occur due to nearby mining and fracking activities or due to age and wear. However, if it continues or spreads, and if the chunks get bigger or appear more often, the foundation should be inspected by residential foundation repair experts using industry-specific methods. They can find the root of the problem and provide a diagnosis as well as an estimate for repair work if needed.
A foundation that starts to shift may be a serious concern. Shifting can occur if the property is built on a graded slope like a hillside or a ravine. A small degree of movement may be tolerable for the foundation, but any larger movements such as sliding or shifting of foundation stones, blocks, or concrete should be evaluated by professionals who can determine the cause and offer potential solutions.
If you live in a seismic zone, discuss available protections and safeguards for your foundation that can be installed to keep your property secure in case of an earthquake. Seismic retrofitting usually isn’t too disruptive, and it can provide peace of mind, protecting your home from larger earthquakes as well as smaller ones that can impact your home over time.
There are a variety of strategies for reinforcing your home’s foundation, including foundation bolting or building cripple walls. These support your home in case of seismic activity and help keep it anchored to the foundation.
Some foundations have cracks or shifting that allows moisture to trickle in from outside as a result of rain, snow, or melting ice. When you see wet patches on the wall or puddling on the floor, you need to get an expert evaluation of the source of the moisture and how to fix the problem. The more moisture that seeps through the foundation, the higher risk of serious damage.
This is often caused by expansive soils around the foundation of your home. When clay soils and other similar soils get wet—from heavy rains, broken pipes, or other issues—they expand. The weight and pressure of all this expanding soil around the foundation can make cracks in the concrete. Through these cracks, the moisture in the wet soil can enter your home.
Unintended moisture in your home is always an issue, because it can grow mold and mildew, which can be hazardous to your family’s health. In this case, it can also be dangerous because it can contribute to the deterioration of your foundation. It’s especially dangerous if the water freezes while in the cracks in the concrete, because the frozen water expands, opening the cracks up wider.
Some foundation issues can be readily addressed at a minimal cost. Other problems may require more extensive repairs. If you notice crumbling, breakage, cracks, or moisture, have your foundation inspected if you suspect an issue is developing. A detailed diagnosis and repair estimate will help to get the problem under control before it can cause structural damage through the rest of your home.