We were honored to have the very knowledgeable Jim, from Granite Foundation Repair in Arlington, Texas, write a highly informative article for our blog. Read below for some valuable tips about your home’s foundation.
Remodeling your San Antonio home can be great for both the property’s value and the overall enjoyment of the house itself. However, for you to enjoy these benefits, things have to be done the right way, which means ensuring the structure is solid. Oftentimes, homeowners only focus their remodels on the cosmetic factor, neglecting the structural soundness of their home.
It goes without saying that a structurally-sound home is one that stands on a solid foundation. Without a structurally-sound home, many problems are bound to happen: the floor may fall out of level, the walls may bow, or the roof may sag. Old homes are particularly prone to foundation issues. Doors and windows tend to stick, the floor tends to become uneven, cracks appear in plaster walls, and the foundation may heave or settle. As such, before considering a renovation, Jim from Granite Foundation Repair says it’s important to have your foundation inspected for damage. You don’t want to begin the project only for your contractor to discover a problem with your foundation. This will not only make your project derail, but it can also cost you an arm and a leg.
Common Signs of Foundation Failure
1. Cracks and other types of fractures
Cracks are often a common sign of foundation failure and usually appear on the floors, walls, and on the foundation itself. Foundation movement is usually the cause of this.
Foundation movement is caused by many factors: invasive tree roots, hydrostatic pressure, changing soil conditions, poor exterior drainage management and structural instability of footers and piers.
At first, the cracks appear tiny and measure about 1/16 of an inch. Over time, however, excessive movement can cause the cracks to grow to more than a ¼ of an inch.
Not all cracks are created equal, though and those that occur horizontally are usually a sign of bigger trouble.
2. Foundation moving in an upward direction
Generally, heaving affects the perimeter area of a concrete slab foundation. You’ll know you are experiencing foundation heaving when it seems to move up in an upward direction.
Foundation upheaval usually occurs in areas with expansive clay soil conditions, such as San Antonio, Texas. When it rains, it swells. This increase in soil volume is what pushes against the foundation, causing it to move. It is common for it to move upwards by 1 and a ½ inches up to 2 and a ½ inches.
Foundation moving in a downward direction
Movement of the foundation in a downward direction is also referred to as “Foundation Settling or Sinking”. Similar to foundation upheaval, settling is common in areas that have expansive clay soils. During the dry season in San Antonio, the expansive clay soil shrinks. The reduction in soil volume is what causes the foundation to sink and left unattended, it’s entirely possible for a foundation to settle into the earth 2 to 4 inches. Besides expansive clay soils, foundation settlement is also caused by other factors. Such factors include poorly compacted soil, plumbing leaks, poor drainage, and tree roots. The vast majority of the time, cracks resulting from foundation settlement are vertical. For this reason, it is important for you to keep this in mind as you perform your inspection.
1. Doors and windows sticking
Stuck, hard-to-open doors and windows can be a pain to live with. If you’re experiencing this problem, it’s likely your foundation is the culprit.
Other telltale signs include:
• Out-of-square door and window openings
• Uneven, dipping, or sagging floors
• Diagonal cracks that start at the top door openings and corners of windows
• Windows need extra force to open and close
• Doors won’t open or close correctly
If you notice any of these problems, your house could be experiencing foundation settlement. Before spending cash to try to correct the problem, contact a foundation specialist first for an assessment – it is free most of the time.
2. Floors appearing out of level
Do your floors seem to be sagging, dipping or bowing? If so, there is a problem. When foundation problems impact concrete slabs, floors are prone to be out of level or uneven. Where pier and beam foundations are concerned, floors tend to sag and squeak. At first, they may appear to be uneven by about half an inch. But over time, the unevenness might extend by up to two inches or more. Floors experience this problem when there is movement in the foundation.
3. Cabinets and counters separating from the wall
If you’ve become aware of something like this, it’s definitely a sign of foundation damage. Initially, these may tilt by a small margin. But before long, you may notice that the gap has exponentially grown.
What started as ⅛-inch gap could have grown to about ½ of an inch.
If you notice any of these issues, it’s in your best interest to consult a foundation repair company immediately. If you neglect these when renovating your home, the problems will only get worse and you don’t want your house to go crumbling down!