A deep, wide crack in your foundation or a puddle of water in your crawl space or near your home are two visible signs of foundation problems. However, foundation damage isn’t always apparent. Sometimes, foundation problems go unnoticed for a long time, which means they could lead to major structural damage within a home.
The first thing you should be aware of is the fact that specialists divide the signs of foundation distress into three main categories, as follows:
- Cosmetic problems, which develop as a result of the normal settling process; as their name suggests, these problems are minor and can be corrected easily;
- Functional issues, which may affect the use of different elements of a home; a few examples include doors and windows that become misaligned and no longer open and close properly, uneven or soft floors, tilted stairs, chimneys, and fence posts, as well as damaged patios, driveways, and walkways;
- Structural problems, which have a negative impact on the structural integrity and stability of a home; these problems typically include cracks, gaps, or other type of damage that affects the studs, columns, beams, piers, and other structural elements, so they may no longer support the intended loads of the structure.
Being able to recognize the visible as well as the invisible signs that may lead to foundation problems is imperative in order to prevent structural damage, let’s take a look at a few warning signs you should keep an eye out for.
A Sagging, Soft, Squeaky, or Bouncy Spot in Your Flooring
A sagging, soft, squeaky, or bouncy spot in your floor may indicate damage to the timber joists and beams that could have been caused by wood-eating insects and/or dry rot resulting from excessive water or moisture. But it could also signal a more serious structural problem, such as soil settlement or pier failure in a pier and beam foundation. For instance, if one of your foundation piers sinks into the ground, leans to one side, or worse, collapses altogether, your floor may have a tendency to sag, squeak, or to become soft and bouncy. When a pier sinks into the ground, the easiest way to prevent further damage and make the floor level again is to reshim it. However, the pier might need to be replaced with a new one if it has gone too far into the ground or collapsed completely.
While water pooling around your home or in the crawl space is one of the obvious signs that might indicate foundation damage, soggy soil is typically overlooked by many homeowners. Whether it’s the result of leaky pipes, improper grading, and/or poor drainage, soggy soil under your home creates a damp environment that may affect your entire floor system. Not only could excess moisture in the subfloor cause mold and wood rot, but it may also lead to specific issues in your floor. As an example, excess humidity almost always causes warping, crowning, buckling, and cupping in hardwood or wood floors. In tile flooring, damp conditions could break down the adhesive between the slab and tiles. Eventually, the tiles will move and detach from the subfloor. As well, soggy soil in the crawl space could attract insects and lead to pest infestations, among which termite infestations are definitely the worst ones.
Soggy soil could indicate another potential foundation problem that you can’t see; namely, hydrostatic pressure. In a nutshell, hydrostatic pressure is the result of excess water that may accumulate in the ground under your home. As this excess water exerts continuous upward pressure against your foundation, it may lead to cracks, bowing, and even collapsing different foundation elements.
A musty odor wafting from your crawl space can be a result of different moisture-related problems, such as pipe condensation. However, it can be another invisible indicator of foundation damage. Because excess water or moisture in your crawl space can penetrate concrete or seep through existing cracks in your foundation and slab, it can create musty or moldy odors particularly if it remains trapped in your foundation or floor system for an extended period of time. In order to prevent musty smells and foundation failure due to water damage, it’s important to have a properly installed drainage system, ensure sufficient grading, repair plumbing leaks as soon as you observe them, and avoid overwatering your foundation.
As a foundation repair company that has been in business since 1982, Allied Foundation has helped hundreds of homeowners who live throughout our service areas to repair and protect their foundations and homes from potential damage. To learn more about the visible and invisible signs of foundation problems or to get professional foundation repair services, please contact Allied Foundation today! In addition to inspecting your property and recommending the most appropriate whole-home solution, our professionals will provide you with a free, no-obligation estimate, which will clearly specify the services suggested along with their total cost.