Owning a home means having to take responsibility for its maintenance, which, depending on structural condition, can mean some minimal, annual preventive work, or require some major repairs. One of the areas that is the literal cornerstone of structural safety—and often the most expensive problem to address—is that of the foundation. The foundation is, without exaggeration, what the rest of your home actually rests on, so if you have foundation problems, you often have a fundamental issue that will require a significant expenditure to fix.
So how do you know when you have actual foundation problems, as opposed to simply your foundation settling? Let’s look at the differences now.
What Is Foundation Settling?
The foundation in most homes—especially more modern ones—is a steel “underpinning” or structure, which acts as a framework for concrete that is poured around it. However, even with a steel underpinning and a concrete framework, this foundation is still being built on top of a very soft, very malleable material, and that is soil.
Soil itself, unavoidably, over the passage of time, changes. Years of enduring different seasons, getting wet, freezing, melting and getting wet again ensure that soil will eventually shift and move. Of course, the foundation that soil is sitting on top of doesn’t, but good foundation design takes this into account.
What this means for homeowners is that a little bit of movement or shifting from a foundation is normal. This is called “foundation settling,” and it simply means that as a little bit of soil the home is sitting shifts around, this results in a minor redistribution of weight and forces. This can cause the foundation itself to move slightly, and this is normal. It may result in some minor cracks, but the overall structural integrity of the house is not compromised.
Real Foundation Problems
On the other hand, when the foundation shifts enough that your house is moving to a significant degree, now you’ve got real foundation problems. There are few hints that your home is headed this way. Uneven stairs, for example, are a sign that there is a strong degree of movement in your home. If you notice that doors and windows that worked fine years ago now stick, or jam up against frames, or floors, that’s also a big hint that your foundation is shifting to an “unhealthy” degree.
And finally, you may notice some cracks in your home, and not minor, hairline fractures either. Upper floors are particularly vulnerable to cracks from foundation problems, but you may find them anywhere, in walls, on concrete steps leading up to your home, and, worst of all, on your foundation itself. If you find large cracks in your foundation, this is a big problem, and you can’t fix it yourself.
Get The Right Kind Of Help
Dependable Home Services has extensive experience with solving foundation problems. If you need a foundation problem solved for your home, just contact us for a free consultation. We can come down, give you a professional assessment, and explain what’s wrong and what it will take to restore your foundation’s structural integrity.