When you look up at your home, you probably envision it as an immovable object, that brick, stone, or wood monument to your family that will stand the test of time. With consistent maintenance, your home can remain in one piece for decades or even centuries to come. But though you cannot see it with the naked eye, the ground is always moving and shifting. It’s subtle, but over the years it can cause some very real damage to the foundation of your home. That’s why older homes heave, settle, shift and even crack down the side. The issues are often cosmetic, and nothing you’ll have to worry about. But you don’t want to take foundation problems lightly, as some can be devastating. Here are five ways to identify home foundation issues.
First of all, take the easiest step and do a visual inspection. Choose a nice day when the sun is bright and shining, and walk the entire exterior of your home. You’re going to be looking for cracks in the mortar, the brick work or whatever material makes up the outside walls of your house. If you have any grade beams exposed, you’ll want to pay close attention there. Any cracks in load-bearing beams are certainly a big deal.
Next, head over to your garage, if you have one. Close the door and examine the seal between the bottom of the door and the pavement. Are there any gaps? If so, is the gap between the door and the ground even all the way across, or does it get larger towards one side. If the gap is staggered, that might mean your house is shifting on the foundation.
Now you should head inside and check out the sheet rock drywall. This is another area where you will see cracks forming if there are foundation issues. Check out the corners of each room in particular, as that is where cracks from foundation problems will most frequently start. Then open and close all of the windows and doors in your home one at a time. Do any of them get stuck halfway in the frame? That could mean the foundation is shifting.
If you have a basement, head down there next. If the foundation is starting to have problems you’ll notice cracks in the cement floor. If you’ve finished the basement and can’t see the lowest level of flooring, feel around for areas that have seemingly sunk below other spots. Then head back onto the main floors of your home and do the same, completing one room at a time. You’ll probably want to do this in bare feet or with socks on, so you can better feel slight level issues. You can also place a golf ball or other smooth ball on the floor and see if it rolls in one direction or another.
Finally, head into the kitchen. Start your search here by checking out your kitchen cabinets, especially where the top of the frame meets the ceiling. Are there any gaps here, or do you see cracks in the wood? If this or any of the other issues seems particularly severe to you, you should probably call in a foundation repair company to come give you a professional assessment.