Something homeowners or homebuyers don’t always look for are problems related to the foundation of the home. Yet, one of the leading issues with older homes is an inadequate foundation. Issues with the foundation are especially common in Minnesota and other places where the ground can become very moist when freezing and thawing.
One of the ways that homeowners can prevent foundation problems is by being aware of what to look for, as well as knowing how to fix it before it starts to leak. Like any home maintenance, it’s essential to catch problems as early on as possible to help prevent any future damage to your property.
Causes for Foundation Problems in Minnesota
Some of the common causes of foundation problems here in Minnesota include:
While you might think that concrete is hard and doesn’t absorb water, you’d be mistaken. When homes aren’t built with proper drainage, water can pool up around the foundation and begin soaking into the concrete. The water might not ever reach the other side of the foundation and leak into your home, but it can cause the concrete to become soft and make it more susceptible to cracking or crumbling in the future.
Poor drainage can also lead to erosion of the soil around the foundation of the home. That soil around the house is necessary for helping to support the foundation and keep it protected from the elements. Watch out for erosion, especially around newer homes that might not have their gutters installed yet.
Heaving and Settling
When the soil freezes and thaws throughout the seasons, it will both expand and contract. This will cause the foundation to shift slightly. Depending on how and where your home has been built, the settling process may not crack the foundation for several years. Other homes that are built where the soil has more moisture might experience heaving and settle sooner.
Along with the concrete foundation of your home settling, hydrostatic pressure is another common problem caused by excess moisture in the soil. Hydrostatic pressure can push against your foundation, causing it to crack and shift.
Now that we know some of the causes of foundation problems. Here are some of the problems that can arise from these forces.
7 Foundation Problems to Look For
Note that there may be more than seven ways that your foundation could have problems. But, these are seven of the most common that you’re likely to experience. Let’s get started.
Brick or concrete are the two most common types of material used to build foundations for houses. It’s common for the foundation to crack in some way. The severity of those cracks is determined more by the expanding and contracting of the soil than anything else. Examine your foundation for cracks; horizontal cracks often mean that there is hydrostatic pressure against your concrete while perpendicular cracks come from settling. Watch out for any cracks that are large enough for insects or water to get trapped in. Many of the cracks that can be experienced by a home’s foundation are purely cosmetic, but some can cause damage. Keep an eye out for leaks, as they’ll point you in the direction of any cracks that may cause larger issues down the road.
Foundation Settling or Sinking
If you think that your foundation is sinking, then you’ll want to have it checked out ASAP. Every foundation is going to settle slightly after it’s built, but it shouldn’t have any major sinking. Try to look at your home from a distance. If one side seems like it’s lower than the other, then your foundation is probably sinking or settling.
This can cause gaps in your foundation and eventually lead to some serious problems over time. Fortunately, a foundation repair company can help by jacking up the foundation and adding foundation piers.
Foundation upheaval is the opposite problem of settling or sinking and often takes place in the garage area. One of the main reasons that upheaval occurs is because of excessive moisture in the soil under the foundation. When water freezes, it can expand by as much as 9%.
Gaps Around Windows or Doors + Doors Sticking
Another way to find out if your foundation is experiencing any of these problems is to check some of the areas within your home—specifically your windows and doors. When a home is built, the windows and doors are installed and adjusted to open and close with ease. Over time as your home or building settle, they could begin to have gaps or stick. You might notice doors that don’t stay open or that stick to the frame when you’re trying to open them. Windows may become loose or stick as well. These are tall tell signs, mainly when located on exterior walls.
Sagging or Uneven Floors
If your floors are sagging or uneven at all, that’s also a sign that your foundation has shifted. This can be primarily noticed on floors at higher levels in the home. This is less common on your lower floors, as they’re often concrete floors.
A Damp Crawl Space or Basement
Any damp crawl spaces or a damp basement often means that water is penetrating your foundation walls. If you haven’t already experienced some foundation problems caused by this moisture, you probably will soon.
Moisture also attracts termites, insects, and pests. Having proper drainage or possible a vapor barrier installed will help to mitigate some of the water and future foundation damage. When it comes to repairing foundations with this issue, It’s best to get it fixed before anything gets too bad.
Counters or Cabinets Separating from the Wall
Lastly, you may see your counter or cabinets separation from the wall. Often, counters and cabinets are on the exterior of your home. When the exterior wall shifts or settles, it can cause the countertops and cabinets to separate from the wall ever so slightly. This separation will lead to increasing problems and possibly a safety hazard. If you notice this taking place, be sure to have someone take a look at your kitchen as well as the foundation in your home to ensure that there aren’t any safety hazards. The last thing you’d want is your cabinets being pulled off the wall by a shifting foundation.
What to do if You Find These Issues
If you notice or being to experience any of these issues, you’ll want to observe them over time. Some of the issues might be cosmetic and won’t require any attention. Others may progress over time and will need professional intervention to protect your investment. Be sure to contact a foundation repair company or a contract that can help you get your property back on track.
If you’re looking for any help with commercial properties, you can reach out to Spec 7 Group. We’d be happy to help you create a plan to repair your foundation and mitigate any further water damage from happening.