Subtle Clues That Point to a Hidden Foundation Problem
Never Ignore Foundation Issues
As a property manager, you are responsible for ensuring that your buildings are safe and well-maintained. This includes being on the lookout for any signs of foundation settlement. Not all foundation issues are noticeable at first. Watching for even the smallest signs of foundation movement can help prevent the need for major foundation repairs due to problems that were not detected early on.
In this blog post, we will discuss some subtle clues that point to hidden foundation problems, including:
- Cracks near doorframes
- Cracks at window corners
- Gaps in window caulking
- Sagging windowsills
- Sticking doors and windows
- Uneven or sloping floors
Read on to learn more about these issues and what to do if you encounter them at one of your properties.
Why Foundation Movement or Settling Is a Big Deal
A settling foundation can cause a multitude of problems for a building, potentially compromising its structural integrity. As the foundation sinks (usually unevenly, which is known as differential settlement), it can cause stress fractures in walls, floors, and ceilings, ultimately leading to cracks and gaps.
Cracks and gaps in your foundation, walls, floors, and ceilings can lead to:
- Moisture intrusion
- Mold and mildew growth
- Increased risk of water and storm damage
- Increased risk of pest infestations and pest damage
- Increased heating and cooling utility bills
- Decreased property values
Moreover, uneven settling can cause doors and windows to jam, pipes to burst, and electrical systems to malfunction. In severe cases, the foundation may settle so drastically that it causes the entire building to tilt or even collapse.
Keep reading to learn how to spot the signs of foundation movement.
Cracks Near Doors and Windows
One common sign of a foundation problem is a crack in the wall near a doorframe or window. These cracks near doors and windows are caused by foundation settlement, which is the movement of the foundation further down into the ground. This movement can cause building walls to crack, and in some cases, it can also cause the ceiling to crack. Brick cracks, drywall cracks, and cracks in concrete block all may be signs your foundation is moving. Look for these common symptoms: diagonal cracks at door frames and diagonal cracks at the corners of windows.
Gaps by Windows
Similarly, gaps in window caulking next to brickwork may be an early indicator that the foundation has some issues. As a building settles, windows may pull away from brick, leaving space between the brick and window. If possible, inspect your building’s windows regularly. Gaps by windows and diagonal cracks in brick at the corners of the window commonly point to foundation issues.
Another sign found around windows is a sagging windowsill. If the foundation is sinking unevenly, a portion of the bricks may move with it, causing the visual of uneven brickwork beneath the window. Look for sagging brick beneath windows to uncover potential foundation problems.
Stuck Doors and Windows
A settling or sinking foundation can cause doors and windows of a building to become misaligned. Misalignment in doors and windows can make it difficult to open and close them. Stuck exterior doors are not just a nuisance but an indication that the foundation needs a professional inspection to confirm if there are serious problems requiring repairs.
Uneven or Sloping Floors
Finally, uneven or sloping floors can be a sign of a foundation problem or the need for structural repairs. Movement of the foundation can cause the floor joists to shift, leading to uneven floors. But sloping floors can also be a sign of soil settlement in the crawl space and the need for structural floor support. Either warrants a call to a local foundation repair expert who can diagnose the problem and provide the appropriate repair plan.
What to Do If You Notice Any of These Signs
Foundation problems can be very serious, leading to major damage to a property. At United Structural Systems, we are well-versed in all aspects of foundation repairs and are prepared to put our knowledge and experience to work for you. If you notice any of the above (or other) issues with your foundation, give our team a call right away to schedule a foundation inspection. We can help you diagnose what is happening and provide you with both commercial and residential repair options.
United Structural Systems can be reached online or by calling (615) 307-9510.