How can you determine if you have a foundation problem? It’s not as big a mystery as many might think. If the structure of your house appears to be moving, you should get your foundation checked by a qualified contractor or licensed professional engineer. Visual cues of adverse foundation performance, include:
- Ghosting doors and doors that rub the frame when opening or closing.
- Diagonal sheetrock cracks near doors and/or windows.
- Separations at joined materials, such as: door frames, window frames, frieze boards, etc.
- Cracks in brick veneer.
- Cracks in perimeter foundation walls.
- Floors out of level.
Many times you might see common cracks in the exposed concrete floors. This commonly occurs and does not necessarily represent a foundation problem. If the cracks are disjointed and/or separated, or if the crack appears to extend through the foundation from one side of the house to the other, then this might indicate a problem.
Your house will likely move over time. As long as the foundation continues to the support the house, being out of level is okay. This is more likely to happen with older homes as the soil under the house shifts over time.
Factors that contribute to adverse foundation performance, include:
- Poor drainage conditions near the foundation. The grade should slope 2 inches in 6 feet away from the house. Areas with flat to negative drainage should have roof gutters and/or alternate drainage installed.
- Large deciduous trees too close to the house. These trees will pull moisture out of the soil causing the soil to shrink and the house to move down in those areas.
- Improper soil moisture management. There should be a consistent level of moisture in the soil around the foundation to help reduce the amount of soil expansion and contraction, which causes the house to move up and down.
Steps you can take to reduce seasonal movement and prevent foundation movement:
- Plant deciduous trees 15 to 22 feet away from the house.
- Maintain positive drainage conditions around the foundation.
- Keep roof gutters clean and in good repair. Make sure downspouts are directing drainage away from the foundation.
- Keep the soil around the foundation properly hydrated by using sprinkler systems and/or soaker hoses.