Do you have a Foundation Problem
Cracking Tiles – Tight Doors – Do you have a Foundation Problem?
Foundations are vital to the function of the rest of the house. The foundation is the structure that the entire home is built on and when the foundation starts to fail, the rest of the house is not far behind. Many times however, it is hard to tell if your foundation has a problem. Foundations are usually poured almost totally underground so that you may only be able to see a few inches of the actual concrete between the last row of siding and the ground.
When building a house excavation is the first step. A level surface, slightly larger than the footprint of the house is dug into the ground. When setting the foundation first a footing is poured. The footing is a wider piece of concrete that the foundation wall, is built on. Lengths of rebar, heavy duty steel, are laid inside the wall before the cement is poured to give the entire foundation extra strength and to hold it all together as one piece. Once the cement has dried, dirt is pushed back against the foundation, leaving only a small amount of the foundation visible above ground level.
The sub structure (the floors and floor joists) of the home is then built on the foundation and the rest of the house is built on top of that. But what happens when the foundation starts to fail? A whole host of problems can occur. The good news is that foundations don’t generally fail quickly. It is a slow problem that get’s worse as time goes by.
Here are some signs to look for that indicate there could be a foundation issue:
1. Doors and windows that used to open and close with ease now get stuck and you have to force them to work properly.
2. Cracks in the floor start to appear. You generally see this first in tile floors or in concrete floors. Wood floors will show cracks between the floor boards as well, but because wood is more flexible than tile, this will take longer to show up.
3. Sloping floors – if a ball rolls from one end of the room to the other, you know you have sloping floors.
4. Cracks in interior or exterior brick, especially noticeable on chimneys.
5. Window and door trim or crown molding starting to split or separate.
6. Cracks in the actual foundation wall.
7. Separation of the floor from the wall. This is especially noticeable in the garage because it is a concrete slab and there is generally no trim or floor covering.
When the foundation of a house starts to have problems, it will show signs throughout the home because the house is all interconnected for strength during construction and all the walls are anchored to the foundation. The top cause of foundation failure is settling. Sometimes during construction the dirt underneath the house isn’t sufficiently compacted, especially when fill dirt is used during the excavation phase to level out the footprint of the house. Over time, the immense amount of weight from the house will compact the dirt below the foundation and the foundation will start to settle.
The enemy of a foundation is water. Water will erode away the dirt around and under the foundation causing the foundation to settle. Poor drainage, if left alone, will always cause problems for your home. Make sure all water flows away from the home. Pay special attention to downspouts, and concrete slabs that are up against the house.
If you suspect that your home has foundation issues, get advice from several reputable foundation contractors right away. Most problems can be fixed if caught early. The earlier problems are caught and dealt with, the cheaper the fixes will be.
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