7 Signs of a Strong Foundation: What to Look for in Homes

When buying a home, there are many factors to consider. A good Realtor or real estate agent can help you decide what the most important ones are for your needs and price range.

Hairline cracks in exterior walls and gaps around doors and windows could be signs that the foundation is settling or sinking. A home with poor maintenance may also have foundation issues.

1. Cracks in the Walls

When cracks form in the walls of a house, it’s not always an indication that there are serious foundation problems. Small cracks are perfectly normal, and are often a result of normal house settling. However, large cracks that run the height of the wall are a sign that something is shifting underneath your home. This can be caused by changes in soil moisture and compaction, ground movement, or structural issues that need to be addressed.

If a crack forms above a door or window, this is usually more of a concern. These cracks can lead to further problems if left unchecked. For example, a large crack that runs from the top of the window to the ceiling could allow water or insects to get in, leading to further damage and possible infestation.

Cracks that run horizontally on a wall are also cause for concern. These types of cracks may indicate that your foundation is shifting, causing the walls to bow or lean inward. This can be dangerous for the residents of the home and needs to be corrected quickly.

2. Cracks in the Floors

When cracks show up in the floors, it’s often an indication that the foundation has shifted, and it’s putting pressure on the floorboards. These changes in weight can cause them to shift out of place, causing gaps. This is a problem that should be addressed as soon as possible.

Cracks in the floorboards can also be an indicator of other problems that need to be addressed. For instance, if the cracks are in a basement or crawlspace and the floors bounce like trampolines, it could be an indication of too much humidity, a lack of ventilation or rotted wood piers and beams.

However, it’s important to note that not every crack is a concern. If the cracks are small and don’t appear to be moving, it might just be a normal part of the home settling process. If the cracks are wider and displaced, it’s a good idea to get them checked out by a foundation support specialist. If the cracks have a zigzag pattern or are getting bigger, it’s probably a sign that something is wrong with the foundation and should be repaired right away. The key is to catch these issues early before they become more noticeable and expensive to repair.

3. Cracks in the Ceilings

While cracks in the floor are a clear sign that your foundation is leaking or shifting, it’s important to pay attention to cracking in your ceilings as well. Depending on the direction and size of the cracks, it could be a minor problem or an indication of serious structural damage.

Hairline cracks in the ceiling are common and normal; they’re a result of settling that happens in all buildings over time. While these cracks may not be appealing to potential home buyers, they’re usually safe and don’t indicate major structural issues. If you’re concerned, a foundation professional can come out and conduct an inspection to determine the extent of the damage.

However, a large crack that continues across the ceiling and down a wall is an indication of serious structural damage. It could be caused by a number of factors, such as something heavy being on the floor above the ceiling or the foundation shifting. If you notice this type of crack, it’s best to contact a professional immediately for an inspection.

4. Cracks in the Interior Walls

When cracks begin to appear in the interior walls of your home, it is a sign that something is wrong with the foundation below. Depending on how severe these cracks are, you may need to have the foundation fixed right away. Larger vertical or horizontal cracks are a sure sign that your house has shifted or is sinking, which will require professional help to fix. Diagonal cracks are particularly concerning because they could be a sign that the foundation has been undermined by soil movement, termite damage or another issue.

Cracks around windows and doors are also a warning sign. If these cracks are widening, it means that the foundation is shifting and creating space beneath or above the windows and door frames. This can create opportunities for moisture and pests to enter your home, as well as make it harder for you to open and close your doors and windows.

Cracks that are accompanied by nail popping in the drywall should also be considered a warning sign and should be addressed as soon as possible. Nail popping can be caused by a variety of factors, including humidity and poor framing or sheetrock workmanship. However, it is likely a sign that the walls are weakening and may collapse if left unchecked.

5. Water Pooling Around the Foundation

If you notice water pooling around your home during heavy rain or flooding after storms, this is an indication that your foundation may not be strong. Water that pools and saturates the soil next to a house can cause significant damage over time, especially when there are problems with the structure itself, such as plumbing leaks, cracking or sinking.

Moisture around the foundation can also lead to long-term issues such as mold and damp walls, wood rot, and insect infestation. This is why it is important to keep water away from the foundation and to make sure that any moisture problems are addressed immediately.

The most common way that water gets too close to a home is through poor drainage. This can be due to clogged gutters that allow water to flow over the side of the house, downspouts that don’t redirect water away from the foundation, patios that aren’t angled properly, or low spots in flower beds alongside the foundation.

You can usually solve this problem with a French drain or by digging trenches and laying perforated pipe along the perimeter of your foundation, then filling them with gravel. This allows the water to filter through the gravel and into the pipe, which carries it away from your foundation. If the problem is more serious, a sump pump can be installed to help eliminate moisture problems and prevent moisture from entering your home.

For a comprehensive and durable deep-ground foundation solution that surpasses traditional concrete methods, consider consulting Screw Pile Pros, experts in providing an all-around better foundation solution.

6. Cracks in the Roof

If you see cracks in the ceiling, it may not necessarily be cause for alarm. Hairline cracks in the ceiling often occur due to humidity, plumbing leaks or something else that can be addressed and don’t indicate foundation problems.

However, if you see large cracks that run horizontally or diagonally across the ceiling, it’s likely time to call in a professional for an inspection. This is a warning sign that your foundation might be shifting and could get worse over time.

You should also take note of sagging floors, doors and windows that stick or don’t close properly. These issues can be a sign of moisture problems, wood rot, pest tunneling or soil instability around your foundation. Keeping an eye out for these warning signs can help you spot minor issues before they become major ones, preventing further damage and potential costlier repairs. A good way to prevent these issues is by ensuring proper drainage around your home and keeping trees, shrubs and grass away from the foundation. These steps can keep moisture, dirt and roots from seeping into your foundation and causing it to shift over time. If you notice any of these problems, contact Academy House Leveling for a free inspection.

7. Mold or Mildew Smells

Those musty smells in the corners of your basement or crawl spaces are a telltale sign that you may have foundation issues. If no amount of air freshener or opening the windows is helping to get rid of that odor, it means there is a larger problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

It is important to note that odors from mildew or mold are different from the odors that are created by leaks in plumbing or from dead bugs. Mildew and mold are both types of fungi that spread through spores and thrive in damp environments. However, mildew prefers even surfaces while mold penetrates deeper into materials. The musty odors are caused by the gasses that are released by these fungi at various stages of growth.

Seeing mildew or mold on walls, floorboards, and carpeting is another indication that the foundation is in need of repair. These stains are not just unsightly; they can also pose health hazards and increase the risk of tripping. The best way to keep your home free from mildew or mold is to prevent moisture from seeping through the foundation walls. This can be done by installing a dehumidifier in your home and keeping water pipes well-maintained.

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