All About Concrete Gazette Digital

Warning Signs of Foundation and Basement Problems

Oct 29

What to look for when you think your foundation might be failing:

Bowing walls

Bowing walls in a basement are a sign that your foundation has serious problems. This condition occurs when the foundation walls move inward due to the hydrostatic pressure and expansive soils.

The constant pressure causes these walls to bow and bulge. Understanding why these walls are buckling will help you find the best solution.

Cracks in foundation walls are another warning sign. While cracks on the outside of a foundation wall aren't usually serious, cracks on the inside of a foundation wall should be inspected by a structural engineer.

Fractures in the foundation wall

Foundation cracks can be very unsightly. They can be as small as five to 15 mm, or they can be as large as a couple of inches. The more serious the crack, the greater the pressure that's exerting on the foundation.

Cracks that run horizontally or obliquely are particularly serious and may signify the presence of hydrostatic pressure. Cracks can also be caused by water and insects invading the foundation, which can make the foundation weaker.

Fractures in the foundation wall are one of the first signs that your foundation may be in need of repairs. If you notice a crack in the foundation wall, you should contact a licensed contractor as soon as possible to prevent the problem from worsening.

Cracks in the perimeter foundation wall

The perimeter foundation wall is a structural element that keeps your house above the ground. It supports your house and bears the weight of heavy objects. Cracks in the perimeter foundation wall may appear in small sections or be quite large. Make sure to look for cracks that are more than a few inches wide.

Cracks in the perimeter foundation wall are often accompanied by settling or movement. Cracks whose width is less than 1/16 inch are not a serious sign of foundation damage. However, cracks that are wider than this may indicate serious issues.

Stair-step cracks in the foundation wall

Cracks in the foundation wall can signal a serious problem. Cracks that extend diagonally, from window to window, or across the entire length of the foundation wall are all signs of foundation problems. These cracks may be caused by differential soil settlement.

For this reason, it is important to contact a professional engineer to get your home's foundation inspected. You may also need to reinforce your foundation and fix the cracking concrete.

Bricks resting on a cracked foundation will eventually settle down or rise, creating cracks in the foundation wall. The wall may have been shifted by the foundation over time. Trim board and brick will begin to move, also. These cracks may lead to a sunken footing.

Musty odor

A musty odor in your basement or crawl space may be a sign of water damage or other issues. This problem usually arises due to mold and mildew growth. These types of organisms thrive in dark and damp places. They can also trigger asthma attacks in some people.

Excess moisture in a basement can damage the foundation. This can lead to permanent damage over time.

The most common cause of dampness is a leaky hot water heater or plumbing system. These issues will increase the relative humidity of a basement, which leads to a musty odor. When the relative humidity level rises above 60%, mold begins to grow. 

Cracks in floors

The cracks in your floor may not look serious at first, but if they continue to grow, they are a warning sign of potential problems. Cracks in the floor indicate a variety of conditions, including foundation settling and shifting.

Check for cracks that are more than a quarter inch wide or those that are wide and extend to other blocks of your floor. If you're not sure if your floor is settling, have your home inspected by a foundation repair contractor.

Another warning sign of foundation and basement problems is warped floors. This can be caused by the foundation shifting, and can result in sagging floors and ceilings.

Another warning sign is a slanted floor. Use a level to monitor the slope of your floor, and call a professional if it continues to change.

Cracks in hardwood floors

If you notice cracks in your hardwood floors, they are probably a sign that your home is experiencing foundation and basement problems. Foundation problems can occur for a variety of reasons. These include poor support for a home's walls or support beams, and excessive moisture.

These cracks are often accompanied by other problems in the foundation, making them a more serious issue. The first thing to check is whether the cracks are connected to concrete piers or posts that support the home.

Look for any signs of cracking in the wall surrounding the home's foundation, and be sure to repair or replace them.

Clevleand Foundation Repair Pros
817 Superior Ave E Ste 100
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 545-5362