Older homes will almost always develop some wall cracks or have some water in the basement. Often, these are annoying, but not necessarily critical to the structural soundness of the home. In particular, if these problems are minor and do not seem to worsen over time, it is possible that the amount of settling minor and can be addressed by patching cracks and basement waterproofing.
Other times, problems with the home’s foundation can lead to more severe problems. Jammed doors and windows, sloped or creaky floors, and cracked floor tiles can all be signs of a foundation that is sinking due to subsidence or soil compaction. For homes with problems like these, foundation repair is necessary to prevent problems from worsening, but may not have reached a state where the house is at imminent risk of structural damage.
However, in the most severe circumstances, a home’s foundation is critically damaged and needs immediate attention. Here are five signs your home may need emergency foundation repair:
Problems that are minor in older homes may be cause for alarm in new construction. For example, cracked stucco or bricks, cracked interior walls, and creaky floors are expected in old homes. In a new home, however, these can signify that the foundation is settling faster than normal and is settling unevenly. This can be caused by incomplete soil compaction during construction, an improperly designed or poured foundation, or insufficient drainage of water near the house.
A foundation is extremely important and comprises up to 15% of the home’s construction cost. Problems that show up soon after construction might be the result of poor construction practices. These problems, unfortunately, will only worsen and could substantially shorten the home’s lifetime. On the other hand, if you bought the home directly from the developer, the home may still be under warranty. Acting quickly to have a foundation repair contractor inspect the home’s foundation could allow the foundation contractor to bill the developer for any home foundation repair services.
Cracks that appear to be growing in width, propagating in length, or branching out into new cracks are usually a sign that foundation repair is needed sooner rather than later. Cracks in walls, garage floors, or the visible parts of the foundation are worthy of monitoring once they are found. If they are visibly growing in width, length, or quantity, the foundation may still be settling. This may lead to additional damage if it is not repaired. For example, as cracks widen, water leaks can develop, damaging the interior of the home.
A house may appear to visibly lean due to either leaning walls or bulging walls. Either situation may be a sign that emergency foundation repair is necessary to prevent severe damage to the home’s frame or even collapse.
The risk created by a leaning house is that as the walls begin to lean or bulge, their ability to hold up the house is compromised. If you think about a house made from toy blocks, one block that is tilted rather than vertical can cause the entire weight of the toy house to shift, leading to collapse. This may be an oversimplification when talking about a real house, but the principle is the same. Once the weight of the house shifts, the weight of the house will try to pull the house apart rather than holding it together.
They may seem disconnected, but severe foundation problems can cause the roof to twist or bow. A twisted or bowed roof can allow water to leak into the house, causing water damage to the framing and drywall. Moreover, a roof that is permanently damaged will necessitate roof repair or replacement in addition to foundation repair. Repairing the foundation before the roof is permanently damaged may save substantial money.
Water leaks are concerning, but not necessarily an emergency. Standing water in a basement is potentially an emergency. Standing water could signify a major foundation problem. Moreover, standing water that reaches the electrical wiring can pose a severe risk of electrocution or fire.
Signs like growing cracks, leaning or bulging walls, wavy roof, and flooding, particularly in new construction, can result from severe foundation damage that may require emergency foundation repair.