Repairing a cracked concrete foundation is a major expense for a homeowner that requires professional help. Before you purchase a new home or renovate your current one, learn to recognize the signs of foundation failure. Early detection may prevent you from wasting time submitting a purchase agreement or making cosmetic changes to a home that has structural problems.
Doors that do not swing or close easily are one of the first signs that a foundation is not level. Doors on one end of the house may stick in their frames or be unable to close or open at all. Doors at the other end of the house may swing too freely. Doors may require unhinging and sanding more than once over a period of time to keep them working properly.
Molding may become separated at corners or from the walls. Door frames may no longer look "square." Examine baseboards, door frames, crown molding and chair rails for separation at all joints. Gaps may appear above baseboards. Look for any sign that molding and the other structural components that they are meant to attach to are no longer well attached.
Interior Wall Damage
Cracks in sheet rock should make you suspicious even though they are not always an indicator of foundation problems. Look for cracks that are not even all the way from the ceiling to the floor or that stop midway. Wallpaper may tear or wrinkle as the wall beneath it moves due to a crack in the foundation. Paneling may buckle or separate at the seam. Diagonal cracks radiating from the corners of windows or doors are a sign of foundation failure.
When a concrete foundation cracks or moves, the flooring above it shows signs of distress. Watch for cracking or loose tiles or grout that breaks and separates. Sheet flooring may buckle or wrinkle. Wood planks may not fit properly next to one another. The floor may feel uneven or slope to one side.
A stair-step or zigzag crack pattern in the mortar becomes apparent in an exterior brick wall when there is foundation failure. In other types of exteriors, look for cracks in stucco or loose wall boards or siding. Examine the tops of walls under the eaves for separation there. Gaps between window frames and the surrounding walls often appear. Notice if there are deep, open cracks in a concrete porch or carport floor as though they are separating from the rest of the foundation.
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