Should You Be Worried: What’s Normal Settling & What’s Real Foundation Issues?
You have probably heard at least one of your friends or family talk of needing a foundation repair for their Houston home. It is perfectly normal to start worrying about your own home after hearing of others having issues. Is there a foundation repair in your future, or is your home just having normal settling issues?
It is a fact that homes will settle over the years. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. However, knowing when to call in a foundation repair expert will help alleviate unnecessary anxiety and worry. Let's discuss some of the signs that will determine whether you have normal settling or need a foundation repair for your Houston home.
1. Foundation cracks; wall and floor cracks.
It is normal to have cracks in your walls that happen 2-3 years after the home has been built. This is called “normal” settling, and it happens when the ground starts shifting under your foundation. So, how do we determine if the cracks you're seeing in the walls warrant a foundation repair?
A 1/16-inch crack is quite common when a home starts to settle. These hairline cracks should be vertical and should be between 2-6 inches in length. Having horizontal and diagonal cracks of any size will indicate that you have more than just the “normal” settling. As well, having horizontal, diagonal, or vertical cracks that are larger than 1/16 inch is an indication that you should call in an expert to see if your home needs a foundation repair.
2. A sinking foundation.
When looking at the outside of your home, you may notice that one side appears higher than the other. You can also have a home that is buckling in the middle. Or when you look at your front porch, it may seem to be sinking in the middle. Any of these signs indicate potential foundation issues that should be checked out by a structural engineer to see if a foundation repair is required. Your house may need to be lifted up and have interior or exterior piers installed in order to fix the issue.
3. Foundation upheaval.
Foundation upheaval is the complete opposite of a sinking foundation. A slab foundation can move a lot over time. This can cause an upheaval of your foundation and affect the inside of your home as well as the perimeter. A foundation repair is probably in your future if you observe any of the following issues:
- cracks in interior/exterior walls;
- cracks in your tiles;
- uneven, bouncy, or buckling wood floors;
- door/window frames separating from the walls;
- sticking windows and doors.
The most common cause of the upheaval of your foundation is moisture accumulation underneath your floor. This could be the result of plumbing leaks and/or insufficient drainage around your property.
4. Difficulty opening and closing doors.
The exterior doors to your home may start to stick when you open or close them. You can probably see that the alignment is off when looking at the door and door jam. You will need to look at them carefully to see the reason for the sticking. Doors can start to stick especially in the summer when relative humidity is high and moisture accumulates in the wood. Look at the door as you’re opening and closing it to see if the alignment is off. Call in a foundation repair expert if you're seeing your doors out of alignment.
5. Countertops cracking or separating from the wall.
Take a look at the counters in your kitchen and bathrooms. Counters that have started to pull away from the walls can be a sign of serious foundation issues. You may also see cracks starting to form in your countertops. This can be a sign of not having proper support for them, or it can mean serious foundation problems. Once you determine that your support is sufficient, you should call in a foundation repair expert for a free foundation inspection.
6. Windows that are out of alignment.
Inspect your windows on a regular basis. Are the window sills pulling away from the wall? Maybe the windows will not open or close properly. The molding around the windows may also be starting to crack. Seeing these warning signs will mean you need to call in a foundation repair expert to determine whether or not you have serious foundation issues.
It is a fact that all foundations will start to settle over time. You may see small cracks form in your walls, and this is perfectly normal. Don't panic before you know whether there is anything to worry about. The first thing you need to do is inspect your home and look for any warning signs your home may have. After inspecting your home, you can determine whether your home is going through the normal settling process or if you need to call in a foundation repair expert.
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