Know the Warning Signs of a Sinking Foundation in Your Home!

By:    |   Published September 27, 2019
Large cracks spread vertically, horizontally and diagonally across a foundation wall.

It’s not good when a boat is sinking. When you have that foreboding or sinking feeling, something’s not good. It’s also not good when the foundation of your home is sinking!

A sinking foundation affects your entire home. So knowing what causes foundations to sink and knowing the signs to look for are an important part of keeping the integrity of your home and its foundation intact.

Sinking Foundation versus Common Settling

There is a difference between the common settling that occurs with any home and a sinking foundation that can lead to major home damage. All homes will experience some foundation settling over time. It’s expected. Though this type of movement is slight – minor shifts over multiple years – and isn’t problematic or cause for concern. Though it is wise to watch it to be sure it doesn’t evolve into something serious.

When major shifts happen, that can put your home at risk. Once sinking foundations start, the damage can exponentially increase, which is why keeping an eye on your foundation is so important. You want to be familiar with any hairline cracks to make note if they spread or if new cracks appear suddenly.

Signs of Sinking Foundation

There are several indicators of a sinking foundation that you can look for to catch the problem early. When you recognize the signs of a sinking foundation right away, it allows you the opportunity to address the problem before it becomes serious – and costly.

Sloping Interior Floors

Slight sloping of the interior floors in your home over many years may occur. If so, it may be so slight and gradual that you don’t even notice it. However, your floors shouldn’t slope more than an inch every 10-15 feet.

If you experience a sudden sloping in your floors, or the incline increases over a short period of time, it’s time to contact a professional for an inspection – immediately! This is a warning sign of a sinking foundation.

Unsquared Windows & Doors

The original squaring of doors and windows with the wall and frames around them can be lost over time as homes settle. However, homes with sinking foundations will start to develop these problems more rapidly. It can be quite annoying when doors or windows “stick” and won’t operate smoothly. Not only is it inconvenient, it’s often a sign that they’ve lost their squaring.

Take the time to inspect the frames and the windows and doors to see how bad the square has become. If doors or windows become noticeably difficult to open or close, especially over a relatively short period of time, consider having an inspection.

Drywall & Plaster Cracks

Exterior foundation cracks are likely to appear over time. They aren’t always a sign of serious trouble ahead. In fact, they are expected to some degree. However, cracks on the outside can lead to moisture issues inside your home.

When you experience cracks in your interior drywall or plaster walls, an immediate inspection is warranted because a sinking foundation is likely the culprit.

Other problems, like nails popping out of the drywall, may be discovered as well. Nail pops can be caused by fluctuation in humidity, generally extreme dryness. However, if you experience cracks on sheetrock walls which start to run the entire height, your home is likely experiencing significant sinking foundation issues.

Large Foundation Cracks

If fine, short cracks appear, they are common and don’t signal any immediate foundational risks. But you’ll want to pay close attention to developing exterior foundation cracks. Cracks developing on steps are important to watch as well.

If you begin to notice longer cracks, especially if they have a “zigzag” pattern, don’t ignore them! These patterns and cracks are clear signs of foundation troubles. According to engineering firm, TEG Structures, “Stair-step cracks have diagonal zig zag pattern which follows the mortar joints between foundation concrete blocks. If moisture behind the foundation walls is the cause, the crack path usually follows the line where the moisture is present. If the crack is wider than ¼ inch or the basement wall is bulging, immediate attention is required.”

You Can’t Ignore Sinking Foundation

If you notice sinking foundation issues, take immediate action. Ignoring the problem will NOT make it go away. In fact, the longer you wait, the more difficult – and expensive – it can be to fix your problem. Getting an inspection right away will help you gauge the extent of the problem. You’ll also be informed of your options for preventing further damage.

Once you know what your issues are, you can make arrangements to address them. But it is important that you do address them!  Sinking foundation issues left to fester can make living in the home more difficult. Because a sinking foundation affects your entire home, repairs – big and small – can begin popping up all over due to the extreme shifting.

Fixing sinking foundation problems is a proactive way that you can help keep your home physically stable, while also helping it retain value over a long period of time.

Schedule Your FREE Annual Foundation Inspection

The best way to protect your home’s foundation from sinking, cracking and everything in between is with professional waterproofing. EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you find out if your home is at risk for water damage and which solutions will best serve you.

Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!

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