Foundation Damage: Causes, Symptoms and Solutions
Foundation damage can be a very costly problem for homeowners. Knowing how to identify foundation trouble and what to do about it can help you solve your problems early, before they become more serious. In many cases, early identification and quick action can help prevent the problem from having catastrophic results.
How To Identify Foundation Trouble
Symptoms of foundation trouble can be subtle at first, so many homeowners don't recognize these problems when they first become an issue. Some of the most common symptoms of foundation trouble include:
- Cracks in the walls and floors, especially cracks over doorways and windows.
- Windows and doors that suddenly stick in their jams.
- Doors that will no longer close or doors that no longer latch.
- Large cracks in the foundation outside the house.
- Cracked tiles over concrete floors.
Other symptoms of problems include bowing walls and uneven walls. This can usually be seen from outside the home. Standing outside the house and looking down the edge of the home's exterior, the house should appear to be straight and solid. Walls that lean, curve or sit at an angle could be a sign of a very serious problem.
When To Not Act
It's important to remember that not all of the symptoms above are an automatic sign of foundation trouble. For example, windows and doors may stick when humidity is high or when temperatures rise, only to work easily the rest of the year. In addition, cracks may appear easily in plastered walls, especially in earthquake prone areas. Homeowners who notice these symptoms and aren't sure if their home has foundation trouble can consult with a reputable contractor.
Likewise, cracks in the foundation outside the house are not always a sign of foundation trouble. Often, cracks occur because of normal shrinkage and settling. Hairline cracks in the mortar (thinner than 1/4 of an inch) should be painted with waterproof paint and then monitored to see if they grow. The important thing to keep in mind is, like with other home improvements projects, prioritizing these types of repairs is key.
When to Contact A Contractor Immediately
The worst types of cracks are:
- Stair step cracks that appear along the mortar lines between bricks.
- Horizontal cracks that appear between cinder blocks.
Both of these types of cracks are indications that some source of pressure outside the house is exerting force on the foundation. Cracks that are 1/4 of an inch or larger are a serious cause for concern. If you see cracks of this size or fitting the above description, contact a contractor immediately.
In many cases, foundation repairs can be made by bolting on steel braces or by underpinning the foundation. Repairs of this nature typically cost between $1,000 and $6,000. In some extreme cases, foundation problems can require the house to be raised and an all new foundation to be put in place. Raising a house can cost $14,000 or more depending on the size and shape of the house and other factors.
Foundation Problems and Home Values
Foundation problems, even repaired problems, can greatly affect the value of a home to be sold. However, working with a reputable contractor and opting for a permanent (versus simply long-term) solution can help.
If your Dolores home, or any home for that matter, has foundation trouble and you're worried about the value of your property, consult with a real estate professional. He or she can help you decide the best way to move forward with your repairs. If you're planning to sell your home soon, an experienced real estate professional can give marketing advice to help move beyond these problems.