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Watching Your Foundation for Faults

by Kuhrich on Thursday, July 17, 2014

Things fall apart, the center cannot hold – that is how a poem goes that you’ll probably only read in literature class, but sometimes the poets get it right, and in this case, it’s certainly true that entropy must inevitably take hold. This goes true for social systems, for your body, and yes, for your home. Specifically, as solid and reliable as your foundation may be, it will eventually begin to show some wear and tear from supporting your entire home and holding up against the pressure of the earth. It’s important that you are aware of the warning signs that suggest foundation troubles, as well as what to do when they show up.

Signs of Stress

You go to open a door and it is jammed for a minute, or you go to close it and it doesn’t latch properly. The door may be at fault; perhaps the wood is warped or the metal somehow broken. Yet it is increasingly likely that, in fact there are problems with your foundation. Other signs that your foundation is in trouble are any cracks appearing in the walls, particular when those cracks are over doorways, windows, and wherever walls meet ceilings – these are areas where excess stress shows up most often.

There may also be cracks in the vinyl and ceramic tile that you have laid over your concrete floor, while windows may – similar to the door – not open or shut completely or as easily as they previously did. Once you start seeing these problems regularly, you should move to check outside for further signs of foundation troubles.

Check for Yourself

First, you’ll want to ensure that your foundation is straight. Use the appropriate tools to sight down the length of your foundation from corner to corner; these walls should be straight, up and down as well as side to side. Use a level to see if any walls are leaning, too. If it turns out that there is a bulge or curve in your foundation, that may mean that your foundation has in fact shifted, or it may mean that the soil that surrounds your foundation is expanding and contracting, thereby putting undue amounts of pressure and stress on your walls.

You should then probe your concrete foundation for weaknesses, poking it with a screwdriver and seeing if chipping or flaking occurs; if you can’t damage it, then you may be just fine, but if you are easily able to damage your foundation, then you have some serious problems to take care of. From here, you’re best-off contacting a professional; some big work lies ahead.

+Ken Uhrich is lead Estimator and Purchaser at Custom Home Group, a Design/Build company, located in Lancaster County, PA. You can follow Ken on Twitter: @kuhrich Or visit his company website: www.customhomegroup.com