Most houses are supported underneath by concrete or a stone, referred to as the foundation. It’s a simple truth that most people keep their sights on things that are at eye level. Whether you are inside or outside your house, your attention is often drawn to wall hangings, furniture, doors, windows, the siding. You may not think much about the foundation of your house, especially if it’s a slab foundation.
However, it is imperative to check the foundation of your home, as the expenses to repair it can become overwhelming if problems are left to worsen. It’s important to inspect your foundation regularly, so you can catch problems in the early stages, before they become expensive repairs.
There are typically three types of foundations: basements, crawl spaces and slab. Regardless of the type of foundation you have, several foundation problems are common:
- Bulges and outward bumps are commonly caused by temperature changes and can lead to serious problems in the future, including abnormal settlement and potentially building collapse.
- Cracking is commonly caused by soil settling and vibrations from nearby elements. Normally cracking is repairable and not seriously threatening to the structure and safety of the building. However, be sure to monitor cracks and call in a professional if you notice any warning signs.
- Leaking occurs when water penetrates through cracks in a foundation and enters the inside of the house. Water can cause erosion and spawn a breeding ground for mold, which can ruin nearly anything, including cherished belongings like photos and keepsakes.
The Top 10 Signs of Foundation Trouble
- Uneven and sloping floors in the house
- Cracks in exterior or interior bricks
- Displaced or cracked moldings around doors, windows, etc.
- Wall rotation
- Cracks or bowing in walls
- Cracks in floors, floor tiles or the home’s foundation
- Doors and windows that won’t open or close properly, doors that swing open or closed on their own
- Separation of doors, windows or garage doors
- Gaps or spaces between walls and the ceiling or floor
- Walls that are separating from the house
Unfortunately these types of problems do not correct themselves, and procrastination may cost you as the problem persists and worsens.
Do keep in mind, however, that some amount of settlement is normal in any house. Some cracks in foundation walls are minor and do not require you to take action right away, only to monitor them. If you have an old house with evidence of minor settling, it’s probably nothing to worry about. If you suspect you have major settlement or foundation problems, you can contact your local National Property Inspections or Global Property Inspections home inspector as a first step. Your home inspector will be able to tell you whether the problem is serious and you need to call in a structural engineer.
Foundation Repair Costs
Basements are the most expensive and complicated type of foundation to construct, as the depth of a basement is commonly 8 feet. Basement repair costs generally range from $500 to $10,000, depending on the type and extent of damage.
A slab foundation is a concrete pad poured directly on top of 4 to 6 inches of gravel with a sheet of plastic between them designed to keep out moisture. A slab is the easiest and least expensive foundation for a building or house. The downside is that there is no easy access for foundation work that may be needed. In addition, sewer lines are embedded in the concrete slab. Expenses for repairs vary wildly and can range from $100 to $15,000.
Crawl spaces are similar to slabs; however, they raise the house off the ground and allow for easy access to plumbing and ductwork. The cost to build on a crawl space is comparable to that of a slab. Expenses for repairs can range from $1,500 to $15,000.
Make a foundation inspection a part of your annual spring home maintenance checklist. If you have a basement or crawl space, check the inside and outside for damage.