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Foundation Distress: What is it and What Causes It?

Knowing how to identify foundation distress is the first step in determining if you have a problem with your foundation – which could be dangerous for your home.

Foundation distress is when the ground underneath your house moves upwards or downwards because of pressure from either natural occurrences or humans. When this happens, it can cause all sorts of problems, such as cracks in walls or floors, exterior damage or interior damage.

What should you do when you see signs of foundation distress? Here are some tips on what to do if you ever see any symptoms.

What is Foundation Distress?

There are two types of foundation distress: uplift and subsidence.

Uplift is when the ground underneath your house moves upwards, causing damage to exterior parts of your home such as the walls, doors and windows. It can also cause interior damage like cracks in the floor or foundation.

Subsidence is when the ground underneath your house moves downwards, which can cause damage to exterior parts of your home such as the walls, doors and windows. It can also lead to interior damage like cracks in the floor or foundation.

Uplift is often caused by soil erosion underneath your house, while subsidence is defined by pressure from the ground surrounding it – people or animals walking on the ground, for example.

What Can You Do?

If you see cracks in exterior walls or windows, or doors are not opening properly, this is a sign that your foundation may have problems with uplift. If there are cracks in the floor or the walls inside your house or if floors are slanted downwards, it could be because of subsidence.

Once you notice what appears to be foundation distress, take a long look at the exterior and interior of your home, noting any visible damage or problems that could be caused by either uplift or subsidence. Talk to a professional who specializes in foundations about the best way to fix any problems you see with your foundation.

Once you’re sure you have foundation distress, the next step is to find out what caused it. If it was caused by soil erosion underneath your home, there’s not much you can do about that besides fixing the damage – or replacing damaged parts of your home (exterior walls, for example). If the problem was caused by pressure from above (people walking on your property, for example), you can use rocks or gravel to fix the problem.

Remember that identifying and fixing foundation problems early on is best if you want to avoid costly repairs down the line. So, don’t ignore what looks like foundation distress and call a professional right away.

The tell-tale signs of foundation distress

If you see cracks in the walls or floors, exterior damage or interior damage to your home, take a long look at the exterior and interior of your home, noting any visible damages.

Once you’re sure there’s foundation distress present in your house, talk to a professional who specializes in foundations about the best way to fix problems you see with your foundation.

If it was caused by pressure from above (people walking on your property, for example), you can use rocks or gravel to fix the problem.

Gaps in the floorboards

First sign is that gaps start showing up between floorboards in multiple areas of your house. A gap means that there has been movement in the foundation of your house. For example, if one corner of your home starts to have gaps between the floorboards but the floors are not slanted, it is likely that there has been some movement in the foundation underneath that area.

Gaps in brickwork or mortar joints

If you see cracks appear around windows or doors, or cracks appear in the bricks or mortar on your chimney, there is likely foundation distress. Foundation issues can appear as cracks near anything that sits directly on the ground – it is important to be able to identify this so you know exactly how severe of a problem you are dealing with.

Sinking or shifting of floors

If one corner of your floor sinks lower than the other, it means very severe foundation distress. It means that this floor is not level anymore and that your entire foundation could be shifting.

If you see any of these problems in your home, call a professional as soon as possible to help fix the problem. If ignored, foundation issues can become major structural concerns for your house, which can lead to more expensive repairs as well as the possibility of injury.

How to Prevent Foundation Distress

Here are a few tips on how you can prevent foundation distress from happening to your house:

Maintain your yard – another important step in preventing foundation issues is by maintaining the exterior of your home. If you maintain your yard and keep it free from damage, you will help ensure that there is no pressure placed on the foundation underneath your home.

Keep your yard mowed and make sure shrubs are trimmed. This will keep anyone from trampling on your siding, which can lead to warping or bending of the material. It will also avoid any kind of pressure being placed on the foundation underneath your home, which could cause further damage in the future – especially if there is a significant amount of snow on the ground.

If you have pets, make sure they are leashed or put in an outdoor pen. Pets can be another cause of pressure on your home’s foundation – especially if they are kept outside for long periods of time without shelter from the elements.

Install a fence around your yard. It may seem silly to install a fence around your yard to protect your home’s foundation, but it can actually help solve certain foundation problems. If you install a high enough fence and keep the gate closed, no one will be able to walk across your yard and put pressure on the foundation of your home.

Call a Professional For Help!

Foundation distress is not something that you should ignore. Call a professional who specializes in foundations right away to help fix your home’s foundation – because it will likely become more expensive the longer you wait!

For more information about Foundation Distress and how to fix it, give us a call today to book your free estimate!

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