It may not feel like it quite yet, but spring is right around the corner—we promise. Depending on where you live, this will mean things like putting on shorts and flinging open the windows the moment the temperature rises above 40 degrees. It will mean trips to the local garden center to pick out bulbs and seeds. And it will mean marking a weekend on the calendar to give the house a good old-fashioned spring cleaning. So, while you’re vacuuming carpets, scrubbing floors, and squeegeeing window panes, there is one simple—but very important—thing to add to your list: keeping your eye open for signs of foundation problems.
Signs of Foundation Failure
During your spring cleaning, you’ll likely be giving your home a going over from basement to attic. This is a great time to see if anything seems out of order, indicating something more serious may be going on down below. Many of these signs, mainly when they occur in older homes, are mistakenly attributed to a home “settling.” These signs can include:
- Sticking doors
- Sticking windows
- Uneven or bouncy floors
- Floor gaps
- Ceiling gaps
- Cracks in drywall
- Cracks in plaster
- Cracks near windows, door frames, and vents
- Stair-step cracking in exterior brick
- Stair-step cracking in block basement walls
- Hairline cracking in poured basement walls
- Chimney separation
All these signs can be attributed to a foundation that has become unstable and sinks into the soil beneath it. This can happen for several reasons. The soil around and beneath your home may have softened or partially washed away due to heavy rains, snow melt, or other water events. The soil may have shrunk due to drought. Or the soil may have been poorly compacted to begin with when your home was constructed. Whatever the reason, your foundation—and the home above it—will likely continue to sink, causing problems throughout the structure.
While this may sound serious—and it is—the good news is, most foundation problems can be fixed permanently. In fact, in many cases, a sinking foundation can not only be stabilized but also lifted back to its original position.
What to Do if you Find a Problem
Many people adapt to these issues because, as mentioned above, they think they’re a normal part of home aging. Sometimes they’re ignoring them completely because they don’t seem like a serious problem. After all, a basement crack may only grow a few millimeters a year. But there’s an adage in the foundation repair community that still rings true today: foundation problems don’t get better or less expensive to fix with time.
So, if you do find one or more of these issues in your home while you’re going about your spring cleaning, make a note of them and schedule an in-depth inspection by a foundation repair expert. Most legitimate foundation repair companies will do this for free and without any obligation, so there’s no risk to you. If a foundation issue is found, the expert should tell you precisely what is causing the problem, exactly how to fix it, and exactly how much it will cost to do so. If they can’t or won’t do that, politely thank them and call another company.
Of course, we hope you don’t find any signs of foundation failure while you’re cleaning your home this spring. But if you do, you know exactly what to do!