Understanding House Foundations | Signs of foundation failure

The foundation is a very critical part of any building since it holds all other parts. A weak foundation can pose a great danger to people living in a building and the building itself.

What’s a house foundation?

In simple terms, a house foundation is a built underground part of a building that bears the entire structure’s load. Technically, the goals of a house foundation are to provide structural support and keeping away groundwater.

For the safety and protection of those living in any house, a strong foundation is key. With the regular changes in weather patterns, your house foundation must always ensure your building stands firmly.

Different types of house foundations suit different needs and locations.

Types of house foundations

The major role of house foundations is ensuring the other building parts rest on properly without any problems or dangers.

The kind of house foundation you choose will largely depend on some factors such as budget, soil conditions, climate, location, and humidity. Below are some of the types of house foundations:

1. Basement foundation

Basement foundation

This is among the most popular and preferred types of house foundations. To build this kind of foundation, an underground hole that measures 8 feet or more should be dug.

This provides increased living space. Foundation walls are then erected on the concrete footings. The major advantages of basement foundations include durability, increased living space, weather, and fire resistance.

The only downside of basement foundations is that they’re expensive to build.

2. Concrete foundations

Concrete foundations

They’re the most common foundations. A concrete foundation involves pouring concrete uniformly to form a slab.

People prefer concrete foundations because they don’t require much time and money to construct. You only require steel reinforcement bars, wire mesh, and concrete.

The downside of a concrete foundation is that drain pipes must be installed during construction-failure to which one has to destroy part of the slap during installation or repair.

Read more: Everything you need to know about Slab on grade.

3. Crawlspace foundations | Raised Floor

Crawlspace foundations | Raised Floor

These types of foundations involve building some short foundation walls on your house footings. Unlike basement foundations, these usually leave a slightly elevated space where you can crawl.

This space can be used for the storage of house belongings, tools, and equipment. Most people prefer crawlspace foundations due to their protection aspect, whereby your house is lifted to some extent keeping it safe from floods.

Compared to basement foundations, crawlspace foundations are very less expensive, and they also increase the appeal of your home. They’re mostly preferred by people living in warm areas.

Their elevation also plays a critical role in preventing termite infestation.

4. Pier foundation

pier foundation

This is widely used in the coastal regions due to the constant shifting soil. Pier foundations are also common in flooding areas.

Their construction requires some level of expertise and planning. A structural engineer will first analyze the soil in your area before moving on to build these foundations.

5. Wood foundations

It’s a popular foundation choice, especially for people who want elegance. Wood foundations involve using treated woods to ensure that decay isn’t a challenge.

Unlike most foundation types, wood foundations don’t usually require many materials, such as concrete. This means that their installation is hassle-free, and they’re also not costly.

Some of the types of woods used in this case include redwood, cedar, and cypress.

These are some of the common house foundations.

Signs of foundation failure

It’s common for house foundation problems to arise. However, when they arise, it’s essential to take immediate action to avoid causing more damage that could lead to expensive repairs.

Diagnosing the problem much earlier will make it easier to deal with the situation before it worsens. Below are some signs of foundation failure:

Read more: The Residential building inspections step by step guide.

Visible cracks

If you come across some visible gaps on your floor, walls, and foundation, it’s a clear sign that something is wrong with your foundation.

If immediate action isn’t taken, these gaps continue to grow over time, making it a severe problem resulting from foundation shifts. However, it’s essential to note that not all cracks signify a problem in your house foundation.

Serious cracks measure about 6 inches. If your home is made of bricks, it’s easy to detect a foundation problem, especially if you see cracks both in the interior and exterior parts of your house.

Difficulty in opening and closing doors

When there’s a foundation issue, you’re likely to experience difficulties when opening or closing your doors. Sometimes, the door might get stuck completely.

Before even this happens, you will have probably come across some cracks on the foundation. To bring your doors back to their normal functioning, you should contact a professional contractor to evaluate your house foundation, check the issue, and fix it.

The contractor will undertake hydrostatic plumbing tests to check for possible foundation leaks in most cases. After understanding the problem, proceed to contact a professional foundation repair contractor to fix the problem.

Sinking foundation

Sometimes, your house might seem to be sinking on some ends. In this case, you require immediate house inspection from a professional to help you understand the cause, mostly associated with foundation failure.

This is usually common, especially on commercial premises. To fix this, you need to call a professional to lift your house by installing foundation piers inside and outside your house.

Water damage

You might notice that your floors and basement walls are becoming wet even without pouring water. This is a major sign of foundation failure. It means that water is finding its way to your house.

To fix this problem, you should seal any cracks you come across using polyurethane grout injections.

Uneven floors

Sagging or dipping floors are clear indicators of foundation failure. When there’s a problem in your foundation, such as flooding, some beams might bend a little causing your floors to appear uneven.

It’s essential to call a professional foundation repair contractor to fix the problem.

Soil movements

If you live in graded zones, there are high chances of experiencing shifting soil. These are natural movements that can affect your foundation.

If you notice these soil movements, it’s essential to take appropriate precautions to ensure your house foundation doesn’t get worse. Sometimes, these movements can be a result of excess water or moisture.

Separation of cabinets from walls

During the installation of cabinets, the contractor usually fixes them tightly on the walls. Therefore, if you notice that your cabinets are tilting or moving away from their fixed positions, there might be something wrong with your house foundation.

Even if they start sloping slowly, you shouldn’t assume that it’s normal. It means your foundation isn’t stable enough to keep all these fittings into their usual positions.

Wall rotation

This is majorly a result of excess water in the soil and is common in flooding areas. When there’s complete water saturation in the soil, the heavy construction starts pressing the house foundation downwards where it sinks.

In severe cases, the part of the house walls also sinks deeper. When you experience this, call a foundation repair expert to examine your house and fix your foundation.

Cracks around door and window frames

If you come across some gaps around your door and window frames, your foundation could possibly be the reason.

These gaps cause your doors’ misalignment, which further makes the frames crooked and thus destroys their usual opening and closing mechanisms.

Tilting chimney

A tilting chimney is a major sign of foundation failure. In fact, you should take immediate action if you notice this to avoid tumbling and destroying your house roof.

This can be very costly. Additionally, a tilting chimney will also leave some gaps that’ll allow insects, dust, dirt, and water inside your house.

In conclusion, these are some of the top signs of foundation failure. If you come across any of these foundation failure signs, you should notify an expert foundation repair contractor to fix the problem.