As a homeowner, one of your top priorities is maintaining the safety of the structure while you’re there and retaining its value for when you’re gone. However, when it comes to foundation cracks and other foundation problems, it can be hard to tell whether they’re harmless or characteristic of a major structural failure. We’ve compiled a list of the things we think every homeowner should know when it comes to foundation problems. If you’re still unsure of the state of your foundation, or you’re ready for a professional to confirm your suspicions and provide guidance for repairs, United Structural Systems provides free foundation inspections!

Request your free foundation inspection in middle Tennessee or Southern Kentucky today by filling out this form, or calling us at (615) 227-2275!

What are the Most Common Signs of Foundation Cracks?

Foundation cracks are usually what tips homeowners off to larger concerns. It’s not uncommon for concrete to show some cracks, as concrete tends to shrink as it cures. However, larger, stair-step cracks and horizontal cracks are almost always signs of foundation problems. You can read more about what the cracks in your home’s walls and foundation mean below. Besides foundation cracks, tile cracks, uneven floors, door and window frame separation, and rotten wood can also be signs of major foundation problems. Perhaps you’re already aware of foundation damage, but you’re wondering how they occurred or how they can be prevented in the future?

What Causes Foundation Cracks and Other Foundation Problems?

Though improper foundation construction and interior plumbing failure can be causes of foundation problems, the most common reason is shifting soil.

How does shifting soil create foundation problems?

Many things can create ground movement beneath your foundation. When homes are built in weak soil, meaning that it is easily compressed and has a low load-bearing capacity, it can cause settlement. Another common cause of settlement is clay soil, common to the midwest, because it retains water and swells when wet and shrinks when dry. This causes foundation movement. The best way to prevent this is by building on soil with the proper density or allowing the soil to settle prior to building. However, if you suspect your builder did not take these precautions, the best way to prevent further damage is to control the moisture around your home.

How does moisture around my home create foundation problems?

A common cause for ground movement is excessive soil moisture or dryness. When soil is too dry, it shrinks, and when the soil is too wet, it expands and creates hydrostatic pressure against your foundation. Both of these conditions can cause movement and compromise the integrity of your foundation. The best way to prevent foundation cracks and problems caused by changing soil conditions is by utilizing proper water diversion. Proper diversion precautions include basement waterproofing, adequate drainage systems, sloping landscape away from your home, and regular gutter maintenance.


Deciphering Foundation Cracks

As it settles, your home can experience a number of different types of cracks in its walls, steps, and around windows and doors. Many of these cracks do not indicate foundation problems, such as hairline cracks or vertical wall cracks (although they do invite water into your home). Cracks in foundation blocks or bricks — especially cracks following a “stair-step” pattern — are almost definite signs that there are foundation problems, and basement stabilization services might be appropriate. Drywall cracks may also be evidence of foundation problems as well, but are not a definite indication. Separation around window and doorframes and horizontal cracks along basement walls should also be checked.

Concerned about cracks in your walls? Contact us for a free assessment.

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Other Foundation Problems

Cracks aren’t the only signs of foundation problems. Sloping ground floors and sticking doors may indicate that your home isn’t in sync with its foundation.

While these issues sometimes call for exterior foundation repair work, more often than not they are caused by inadequate support. This can be addressed by adding buttressing columns. We prefer to use adjustable jack posts because floors are liable to settle again over time. The posts we install come with 5 years of free calibration.

Worried about sloping floors or sticking doors? We’ll take a look for free.

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