One thing you come to realize after living in your home for a while is that the building is made of several interconnected parts. A fault in one part of the home will create problems in another part, even if the two parts seem to be completely disconnected.
You often see these interconnections when plumbing issues cause a wide range of problems in the home. Another key component of the home that can cause widespread damage to the entire building is the foundation. Faulty foundations can cause damage to your entire home.
Typically, when we think of issues that result from foundation damage, we expect to find the signs in those structures that are in direct contact with the foundations. The common signs we associate with foundation damage or failure are:
- Cracks in the floor of the home. These are different from cracks caused by dropping heavy items on the floor. These kinds of cracks typically run from wall to wall.
- Windows and doors that stick. You have difficulty closing or opening the doors and windows across the entire house or one section of the home.
- Uneven, bowing, or sloping floors. When water spills on the floor, it always flows to one side of the home because the floor is no longer level.
- Diagonal cracks around windows and doors. These types of cracks run upward from doors and windows toward the ceiling.
- Gaps between cabinets and walls. Ever widening gaps between cabinets and walls. This is a sign of misalignment between floor and walls due to foundation issues.
- Bowed or cracked walls. The walls inside the home may bulge outwards. This often manifests as cracks between windows and doors or cracks in wallpaper.
- Cracks in masonry. Often referred to as stair-step cracks, these show up in the mortar. They may also affect bricks and the mortar.
- Gaps between walls and ceiling. You may start to notice gaps at the point where the walls of the home should meet the floor or the ceiling, or both.
- Leaning chimney or porch. This could be the result of movements in the porch or chimney foundation or due to problems with the home’s foundation.
- Water issues in the basement. This can happen because of groundwater or runoff seeping into the space via the damaged foundation or damaged pipes leaking into the basement.
Roof damage caused by foundation problems
In addition to the above, foundation problems can also affect your roof. This is because every structure of the home sits on top of the foundation. Therefore, if the foundation moves, the entire structure above will also move. This movement is often most visible within the roofing system and reveals itself in the many ways, including:
- Curving or bowing along the roof’s ridgeline
This is often noticeable if you observe the roof from a distance, such as from across the street. Instead of a straight line, the roof ridgeline presents a curved line. This could be due to problems with the supporting structures of the roof, but it could also be due to foundation failure.
- Leaks across the entire roof structure
Widespread leaks across the roof could be a sign that joints are weakening due to the strain of the moving foundation. These types of leaks cannot be solved by fixing the roof; they will happen again and again.
- Gaps in the roof
This happens when the foundation problem has reached an advanced stage. Sections of the roof can start to move away from one another as the underlying parts of the foundation drift in different directions. But before the issue gets this far, the two previous signs would have become pronounced.
What causes foundation damage?
Most foundation problems are caused by too much or too little water in the soil underneath a house. The top five causes of foundation damage are:
- Excessively dry soil
The soil around and under the building can dry out. This is either caused by very hot weather or plant roots sucking all the water out of the soil.
- Expanding soils
If the soil in an area is mostly composed of expansive clay that swells when wet, foundation damage will be common in that location.
- Bad construction
Improper construction leads to foundation problems. For instance, if the soil was not properly compacted before the house was built over it.
- Plumbing issues
If there are leaks in the pipes inside the basement, the likelihood of foundation damage is greater.
- Natural sinkhole
Unlike the other causes of foundation damage, this one is completely outside the control of the builder or homeowner.
If you have noticed any of the above signs in your home, you may have an ongoing issue with the foundation. Foundation damage is a homeowner’s most feared problem. But foundation damage can be fixed if you act fast.
The only way to be sure if your home’s foundation is in danger or not is to contact a licensed structural engineer or foundation restoration company and have them inspect the foundation.