early signs of foundation problems

Top 2 Early (and Universal) Signs of Home Foundation Problems

You’ve got some *troublesome symptoms* showing up around your home and you’re worried about possible foundation issues. You’re panicking like, “Are these the early signs of foundation problems? What even are the signs of developing foundation issues? And by the way, are early settlement signs different depending on what kind of foundation I have??”

Anchor Foundation Repair Bryan College Station

No matter what kind of foundation you have, homeowners worry when they think they have a foundation problem on their hands. Let’s sort out this *early signs* question for you so you can stop worrying and start understanding the condition of your foundation better.

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we’ve been diagnosing, inspecting, and repairing Brazos Valley foundations for 35+ years. We’ve been looking at the top early signs of settlement since 1985 and can share them with you.

This article will reveal and explain the top 2 signs of early foundation settlement (for any home type) that can develop into problems. We’ll help you understand the difference between foundation “settlement” and a “problem that needs to be repaired” so that you know what to do next for your home.

Do Early Signs of Settlement Differ Depending on Home Type?

types of home foundations

Before we get much further, let’s talk about home foundation types. In our area of Central Texas, we generally have two of the three common types of home foundations: slab-on-grade foundations aka slabs, and pier and beam or crawl space foundations. We don’t have homes with basement foundations around here. 

Some signs of foundation issues only apply to crawl space homes. Some early signs of foundation problems only appear in slab homes with brick siding. Some typical early signs only appear in basement homes too. So yes, signs of foundation settlement can differ depending on the foundation type or home finish styles in some cases.

The early signs of foundation settlement that we discuss here are universal. In other words, these early signs can apply to and appear in your home no matter what type of foundation you have. 

Top 2 Early Signs of Developing Foundation Issues

The best indicators of potential, developing, or early signs of foundation problems are:

home foundation repair
  1. Small diagonal cracks in drywall
  2. Door fit issues

There you have it, folks. These top two early signs occur in slab homes, crawl space homes, and even basement homes. Okay, okay I guess if you had nothing but wood paneling throughout your entire home, you might not get any drywall cracks but . . . 

Let’s discuss each early sign in a bit more detail, shall we?

Small Diagonal Cracks in Drywall As an Early Sign of Foundation Issues

Diagonal wall cracks coming off of door and/or window frames, or other cased openings are the top, unmistakable early sign of foundation issues.

Diagonal cracks cannot be confused with poor workmanship or any other issue. They only have one cause and that’s settlement.

Because drywall is not the strongest material, if anything in your home is experiencing movement or change, your walls will be one of the first indicators that something is going on in the form of diagonal wall cracks.

diagonal wall cracks are and early sign of foundation settlement
These cracks are long, an early sign would be when the cracks are short and just beginning.

Settlement is sort of a nice way of saying *sinking* but sinking sounds very dire. Settlement is not that dramatic, it just means your house (or part of your house) has moved in a downward direction from when it was originally built and the result is a cracking wallboard.

Initially, the cracks will be short. As time goes by and more settlement occurs, the cracks will become longer and may start to separate. This means that part of your house is sinking further.

For more details on these kinds of wall cracks, check out: What Do Diagonal Wall Cracks Mean and What Can I Do About Them?

Door Fit Issues Are An Early Signal of Foundation Settlement

A rectangular door frame should hold right angles at every corner so that your door fits perfectly within the frame with no points of contact. When you have foundation settlement, the door frame is pushed “out of square” and causes closure issues, rubbing, or contact points. 

The door does not match up with the frame anymore due to shifting framing attached to a shifting foundation. 

early signs of foundation issues
Door fit and diagonal crack in one – this is a pier and beam home more prone to settlement.

Door fit issues can have other root causes. To rule out the culprit of faulty hardware, make sure that screws and hinges are intact and not loose. Symptoms indicating your door fit issue might be caused by settlement include:

  • Gapping on the top side of the door ONLY,
  • Misalignments between the striker and the striker plate causing latch issues,
  • A handyman suggests that you cut/shave off the top of your door to make it fit,
  • The same door also has a diagonal wall crack coming off the corner of the frame,
  • More than one door in your home is experiencing an issue, and
  • Sometimes, (especially on pier and beam homes) the bottom of the door starts to rub on the floor.

For more info to help you sort out whether a wonky door is a foundation concern, check out: How to Know if Your Door Issue Is Related to Foundation Problems.

Do Early Signs of Settlement Mean Foundation Problems?

Early signs of settlement are not always cause for alarm. Not all settlement turns into a true foundation problem. They don’t mean you need to immediately move to repair mode. 

what to do about early signs of foundation problems

Homes sometimes move a little, especially when we have cycles of wet and dry weather. When you have your home built on expansive clay soils like we do here in Central Texas, foundation movement is kind of inevitable. Many homes experience seasonal foundation settlement during drought or drier months and then pop back to normal with seasonal rebounding.

So don’t panic just yet, but early signs are cause for additional care and monitoring of your foundation’s situation.

How To Know If You Really Have a Foundation Issue

Moving beyond the early signs, I’m sure you’re wondering how to know for sure that you have a foundation problem that needs repair. Well, we can tell you how we do that too. It’s not the same for every home or every homeowner. We look for big functionality issues caused by your settlement signs and we listen to homeowner’s feelings.

looking for early signs of foundation issues

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we don’t fix things that don’t need fixin’ and we don’t try to sell you stuff that you don’t need. Every sign of foundation settlement doesn’t require the full foundation repair treatment.

Read Do I Need Foundation Repair or Not? Settlement vs. Problems for more detail on determining when foundation repairs are needed.