1. Cracks in Walls
Cracks in the wall are viewed in two different ways. First, is that cracks along the walls of your home are a telltale sign of foundation settlement. Typically, cracks are seen running off of a door frame, or the crack runs from a door that opens toward a window opening. Cracks can form anywhere around the house, not just indoor frames in walls, however. The reason that cracks are a great sign to tell if your foundation is settling is that when the drywall was installed, it was placed on a level foundation. Over years of soil erosion, lack or excess of moisture, along with many other natural causes, the foundation slowly starts to sink and needs repair. If you only see a few cracks around the house and they are not too significant, repair may not be required right away and should be monitored.
2. Doors Sticking
When a door is out of square or has some trouble, the opening does not mean that the door is the issue. The actual issue is probably a foundation settlement problem, not the door or door frame. For a way to test if your doors may be unlevel, pick any door in your home and close that door. Look at the top of the door from 2-3 feet back and observe the space that is at the top of the door. There should be a consistent, left to right, look to the door gap at the top. If one side is higher than the other, the door is considered “out of square.” Out of square doors are one of the most common signs of a foundation issue, and if you are experiencing door sticking throughout the house, it is best to have a professional look at it.
3. Exterior Cracking
Stairs cracking is the first sign most homeowners will notice around the exterior of the house when looking for foundation problem symptoms. These cracks run along mortar lines typically and give a good indication of where the actual low point of the foundation may be. Stair cracks can be very faint and hard to see, but typically, the higher they run-up, the larger they become. The size of the crack will determine the severity of the foundation settlement.
4. Moving Trim or other Finishes
These, unlike the other problems listed, do not necessarily mean you need your foundation repaired right away, but more often than not, a repair is necessary in the end. Familiar places of movement are on backsplashes. When looking at your backsplash, see if there is a gap along with the corners and base of the backsplash. Cabinet separation is also another sign of foundation settlement. Lower cabinets are not as concerning, but top cabinets that have a movement that can be seen a little clearer. Check to see if you notice a small gap between the cabinets and the walls that they were installed.
5. Cracked or separated flooring
Traditionally, tile that is breaking, especially on grout lines, is a significant sign that foundation settlement has occurred. Other floors, such as laminate that have a little bit more flex and are not attached as well, could be a foundation issue or poor installation. Hardwood floors attached to concrete slabs will pull apart at the joint, causing one side to be higher than the other. With hardwood and tile, the slightest foundation movement can be seen because of the damage that appears to be taking place. In most cases, it is just minor shifts in the foundation, which is natural and should be monitored if not too severe of cracking.