How do you know if you have a foundation problem or not? How do you know if you need foundation repair? Great and very important questions.
You’d rather not ask a foundation repairman right now because you think they will just tell you, “Well of course you have a problem . . . and we can fix it for you right now . . . just sign on the dotted line . . .”
Let’s slow down and dial back the pressure and simply get some answers to your these questions:
Do I need foundation repair? What signs tell me that I might have a problem? Can you show me some examples?
Here at Anchor Foundation Repair, we want to educate and help homeowners understand what is happening with their home just as much as we want to repair it. Home foundation repair is what we have been doing for 35+ years, after all. BUT, we don’t want anyone spending time, money, and effort on a repair that is not needed.
We also don’t ever want anyone to feel pushed to act when they are not ready. Our goal is to empower you with information so that you can feel confident about your decision to move forward with foundation repair (or not).
We will show you the top 6 signs and symptoms we normally see in the thousands of homes we have assessed and repaired in the Brazos Valley. Picture examples will be provided so that you can take the first step in identifying the need for foundation repair in your home.
What Are the Top Signs Of Foundation Problems?
Let’s review the major symptoms around your home that point to the possible need for foundation repair. At the very least, these things signal that you are having some foundation settlement in your home. Here’s a quick list starting with the most telltale signs:
- Diagonal Cracks on Interior Walls
- Exterior Stair Step Brick Cracks
- Doors Sticking or Not Latching
- Gapping or Separation of Exterior Trim
- Movement of Wood Trim/Built-Ins
- Evidence of Movement on Other Inside Fixtures
1. Diagonal Cracks on Interior Walls
Diagonal cracks in your drywall or sheetrock are the #1 sign that your foundation is settling and might need repair. This problem doesn’t have any other root causes other than a sinking foundation.
You will see these diagonal cracks coming off of door and window frames. The direction that the crack is heading in, points to where settlement is happening in your home.
Since wallboard is one of the weaker materials used in home construction, it is the most vulnerable to settlement forces. Small diagonal cracks will be one of the first early signs of foundation movement you see in your home.
2. Exterior Stair Step Brick Cracks
If you have a brick home, exterior cracks in brick mortar that go in a stair-step pattern are a major sign that foundation settlement is occurring and you might need repair.
This kind of stair-step cracking in brick mortar can occur anywhere on the outside of the home, but most often you will see it near window openings.
Brick mortar is not as strong as the bricks. So instead of bricks cracking the mortar cracks first when pressure is applied from foundation settlement. Again, the direction that the crack is headed in shows where the foundation is moving.
3. Doors Sticking or Not Latching
Interior or exterior doors that stick, don’t latch well, or close right can be a sign of foundation settlement or problems.
You will likely see some evidence of friction on the top or bottom edge of the door. When the door frame has been pulled out of square due to movement in the foundation, you get this kind of door issue.
This issue does have other root causes too, like failing hinges, loose screws, and things like that. So you will want to rule out those kinds of issues first before deciding it’s a foundation-related problem. The sticking points will be at a different location around the door frame in these cases.
4. Gapping or Separation of Exterior Trim
Gapping and exterior trim separations are tougher signs of foundation problems to spot. On a home, there are often long, horizontal transition pieces of trim that bridge the space between your siding and adjacent materials. If it’s a brick home, they call it brick frieze, but this trim also exists on homes with other siding types.
You might see that the trim piece has popped away at the corner of the home. You might also see a gap between the trim and the siding if walking along the exterior wall while looking up. This kind of sign is subtle and doesn’t just jump out at you like the other signs we have covered so far.
Walk the perimeter of your home and look up at the corners and along the walls. Note any places where the trim is not in place like it is supposed to be or looks bowed out. Foundation movement will cause trim boards to lose hold of their original placement and begin to separate.
5. Movement of Wood Trim/Built-Ins and Other Inside Fixtures
Interior wood trim, built-in cabinets and shelves, and chair rail trim that pulls away from the walls they are mounted to are signs of foundation settlement and problems.
You will see built-ins of any kind that look like they are starting to fall off the wall or separate from their position on the wall.
A settling foundation will cause moving walls to force cabinets or trim to work themselves off of their secure wall position.
6. Evidence of Movement on Other Inside Fixtures
Other inside fixtures or finishes can also reveal foundation issues. You might see where a countertop is dropping. It looks like it has come away from the wall and there is space showing between the countertop and the backsplash.
Other areas where we have seen this type of foundation problem sign is with bathroom tiles, or even stair-step cracks appearing in the mortar of kitchen or bath tile.
Walls or floors that are moving due to foundation settlement can create gaps in the area between tilework and countertops or other locations where wall tile meets another surface.
Look Out For Combinations Of Foundation Problem Signs
Just one sign does not tell the whole story of your foundation, it takes a combination of several signs and symptoms acting together to reveal a true problem. You will never see “just one thing” and that’s it if you have a foundation issue that truly needs repair.
You might see some things that make you think you have a foundation problem, and you might also see a few things that are falling into the “not necessarily a foundation problem” category as well.
If you are seeing several signs, more of which are falling into the category of true signs, that’s when you know that foundation settlement has occurred. Here’s a comprehensive article covering both real and false signs of foundation problems too: Is Foundation Repair Needed? Real and False Problem Signs (Picture Guide).
Determining If You Need Foundation Repair
Now you know the top 6 signs that you might need foundation repair, but that’s just one side of the foundation repair coin. Your feelings and how much these signs bother you or affect the functionality of your home also factor into the foundation repair equation.
If the foundation problem signs cause you anguish and worry, that’s when foundation movement brings you to the level of “repairs needed.”
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been helping homeowners make the decision to move forward with foundation repairs since 1985. Your level of concern about your home is just as important in determining if repairs are needed as the signs themselves.
Check out this article for more help on deciding if the time is right for you for foundation repair, “Foundation Settlement Confirmed: When Is the Time Right for Repairs?”