Does your Charlotte, NC, home have windows that are hard to open or close? What about sticking doors in Columbia or Greenville, SC? Homeowners in the south and across the east coast know that sticking doors and windows are a sign of rising temperatures and moist conditions in the spring and summer months. But did you know they can also be important early warning signs of foundation damage? If you are having trouble opening and closing windows and doors, it’s time to ask yourself whether your home has other early warning signs of an even larger issue. Take a look at these simple signs that your home has a foundation problem.
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As a homeowner, you may know to look for changes over time to the home as its foundation settles. Foundation settlement is common and occurs in all buildings and homes. What you might not know is that there are several early warning signs to help you identify foundation damage early, before it becomes a larger issue. By identifying and fixing small cracks and holes in a home’s foundation, you can reduce the effects of bigger issues later on that can affect the entire home. If you are looking at a home to purchase, understanding the signs of foundation problems before you buy is important too.
Identifying Foundation Damage Early
As a home’s foundation settles as it ages, it can cause major damage to the entire home. If left unchecked, these damages can be costly to repair as the issues grow. Settlement and its effects are beyond our control as homeowners. The changes are caused by time and can be worsened by soil conditions, weather, and emergencies like flooding, leaking pipes, and poor drainage around the home.
However, if you identify one of these early warning signs and ask a professional foundation expert for help identifying the underlying cause, you could save yourself costly repairs and major maintenance headaches in the future. The early warning signs of foundation problems in your home to look for include:
- Wall and floor cracks, often near windows and doors or along columns
- Doors and windows that are hard to open and are getting worse over time
- Openings between windows, doors, and exterior walls
- Sagging or slanted floors
- A cracking or leaning chimney
- Bowing basement walls
- A musty smell from mold or mildew in the basement or crawl space
- Water damage inside the home that can’t be explained by leaks or open windows
Foundation Problems Explained for Homeowners
There are three main causes of foundation problems, according to Realtor.com:
- Foundation settlement
- Foundation heave
- Stem wall deterioration
As it ages, a home’s foundation settles into the ground and soil underneath it. If the soil underneath the home shrinks, the foundation is said to be “settling” into the unstable area within. The opposite effect is called foundation heave. This occurs when the area underneath a home rises, as the soil settles in other areas near the foundation. It’s important to understand that time isn’t the only thing that affects the health of a home’s foundation. In fact, newer homes can also experience foundation issues.
In addition to time, foundation changes and damage can occur as a result of natural disasters like hurricanes or flooding, or from man-made changes like leaky pipes and bad water drainage. That’s why even small leaks should be fixed immediately, gutters cleared each season, and water drains faced outward away from a home’s exterior walls. A regular home and foundation inspection can also help identify problems early on so they can be fixed immediately and not grow in size and scope.
When built, a home’s stem walls are built on top of the foundation. That’s why foundation damage can impact the home’s walls, windows, doors, and floors as well. It’s also why we can identify foundation damage with these common signs. Damage or deterioration of a home’s stem walls can impact not only the home’s foundation but other items and areas throughout the home, from the porch to the chimney.
The Cost of Fixing A Home’s Foundation
Once foundation damage is identified, it’s important to fix problems immediately, no matter how large or small they are. Over time, even a small crack in a home’s foundation can grow. How much it will cost to fix your home’s foundation will vary depending on the size and magnitude of the problem. It may also vary depending on where you live.
For example, repairs in major metropolitan areas are often higher than the national average. Across the U.S., the average cost to make small foundation repairs, according to Inch Calculator, is $3,500. The repair costs can grow to an average of $10,000 for major issues. Across the country, average repair costs vary, from $11,000 in Raleigh, NC, to $14,000 in Virginia Beach, VA, and $14,500 in Denver, CO, to $50,595 in Washington, D.C.
Identifying Foundation Damage in Homes For Sale
Even if you’re not yet a homeowner or looking for a new home to purchase, understanding how to identify foundation issues early is important. As part of your home-buying process, you’ll receive a professional home inspection that includes an in-depth look at the home’s foundation. Most states in the U.S. require a homeowner to share any information about past foundation issues or repairs with potential buyers at that time.
If work has been completed on the home’s foundation, as a buyer you can ask the current owners for the warranty information on that repair investment. Or if new damages are identified during the home inspection, you can choose to ask the current owner to consider lowering the home’s asking price to help pay for immediate repairs. A small crack or leak can be a sign of a much larger problem that can impact areas all over the home very quickly. That’s why it’s so important to identify and fix problems with a home’s foundation quickly.
Take the First Step to Fix the Problem Today
If you identify one or more of the most common problems related to foundation problems, from mold growth in the basement to sticking doors and windows, your next step should be to ask for help from a professional.
To ensure even a small problem can be fixed before it grows, contact Mount Valley Foundation Services for help. Our expert team can provide your family with a free inspection, recommendations to help secure the health of your home’s foundation in the future, and a cost estimate if immediate repairs are needed.