Resource Article

Is It Safe To Live In A House With Foundation Problems?

Blake Heron

Whether you are a homeowner or in the middle of the home buying process, you may have concerns about the structural integrity of a home’s foundation. Foundation problems are structural issues that can greatly affect the stability and safety of your home. These structural issues can eventually lead to extensive foundation repair in Virginia and even safety risks. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to identify structural damage yourself. Your real estate agent may not be aware of the issues, either.

You need a professional to look at foundation issues and estimate repair costs. If you’re wondering, “Is it safe to live in a house with foundation problems?” the answer can be no, even if there may not be an immediate risk. Contact BAY Crawl Space & Foundation Repair for a free inspection. Our professionals will assess the extent of the damage and recommend a repair process.

Is a House With Foundation Issues Dangerous?

It’s hard to say whether a house is dangerous without first inspecting the foundation problems. Some foundation problems are a major concern, but that’s not always the case.

Usually, foundation issues aren’t an immediate risk but can develop into a risk over time. As the foundation problems get worse, the dangers increase. If you’ve been living with foundation issues for a while, your home may be dangerous.

When we inspect your home’s foundation, we’re looking for any safety issues — for either you or the house itself. The main concern, of course, is whether your foundation problems are new or old. Sometimes homeowners simply don’t notice foundation issues. When we perform an inspection, we may determine that the issues are widespread or concerning and need to be addressed immediately.

What Are Some Common Problems With a Home’s Foundation?

Some foundation problems are more common than others. Generally, when a house has foundation issues, we expect to find one of the following:

  • Foundation settlement: Foundation settlement happens when the ground under the foundation shifts or compacts. The foundation material also shifts, which affects the structural integrity of the home.
  • Foundation piers settling: Some crawlspace foundations use piers and beams to lift the home above ground. These materials can shift or settle over time, causing foundation issues.
  • Moisture damage: Beams and joists may be damp or rotten, causing them to cave in under pressure. This is a dangerous problem that usually needs immediate repair.

You may not notice these issues until it’s too late. Once homeowners notice signs of foundation damage, foundation repair is often the only solution. That’s because the problems happen very slowly. You would need to spot the factors that cause foundation problems to prevent foundation damage. Unfortunately, most homeowners aren’t familiar with these contributing factors, so they don’t know what to look for.

What Are the Warning Signs of Foundation Damage?

Sometimes there are warning signs of foundation damage. Other times, you may not notice anything unusual, though. If you notice any of these signs, schedule a professional inspection ASAP:

  • Cracks in drywall. These are big or small cracks (hairline cracks) on your ceilings or above doors. These may be horizontal cracks or diagonal cracks.
  • Foundation cracks in bricks. The cracks in the foundation wall may resemble the appearance of “steps,” earning them the nickname “stair-step cracks.”
  • Uneven floors (sloping). Your floors may feel crooked or sloped. Your furniture might lean or tilt. Sometimes your doorways may look uneven, too. You can test uneven floors with a golf ball. Place the ball in the center of the room. If it rolls towards a wall, your floor is uneven. Note that this won’t work on carpet, though.
  • Bowed walls. If you have foundation damage, your walls may bow inward. This usually affects the walls in your basement or crawlspace, but your interior walls may bow, too. The wall may just feel curved, or you may see cracks or gaps between cinder blocks. This usually happens when soil is pressing against the walls, but the foundation can’t stand against the pressure. You need foundation reinforcement in this case.
  • Gaps around window frames. Window frames should fit flush against the surrounding wall. If there are gaps, your foundation likely shifted and needs repair.
  • Gaps around the trim. The same is true for trim. If you notice crooked trim or gaps around windows, doors, or baseboards, you probably have foundation issues.
  • Doors that won’t close properly. If your doors are hard to open or close, you may have foundation problems. This often happens when the door frame isn’t level with the door because the home shifted over time. You may also notice the door doesn’t latch properly. Note that this doesn’t usually apply to the handle side of the door. Foundation problems normally affect the top or bottom of the door frame instead.
  • Broken tiles. If you have tiles in your kitchen or bathroom, you may notice cracks in the tile or grout lines. This can indicate foundation problems, though it’s more commonly a sign of poor installation. The cracks may appear on counters, walls, floors, or any other tiled surface. You’ll need a professional to determine whether the cracks are due to foundation issues or another factor.

Any of these signs may point to structural damage, but it’s hard to pinpoint the cause without an expert opinion. We can inspect your home, determine whether you have foundation problems, and assess the extent of the damage. We may advise foundation repair solutions and provide an estimate, as well.

What Are Common Causes of Foundation Damage?

Foundation damage is pretty common for many reasons. Here are a few of the most common causes:

  • Water damage. Water damage is a primary cause of foundation damage. Sometimes water doesn’t drain away from the home as it should. This can cause problems with the soil or with the foundation materials. If piers or beams get wet, they may eventually rot. If the soil becomes too damp and stays that way, it may shift. Heavy rains can wash soil away, so there’s nothing to support the home’s foundation. If you have water damage, you may need foundation repair and waterproofing services.
  • Mildew. Plumbing issues or drainage problems may cause mildew or mold. These are often a safety concern themselves, but they can also point to foundation issues. Mold and mildew affect the integrity of your building materials, which leads to foundation problems.
  • Clogged gutters. Gutters help direct water away from your home. If your gutters are clogged with leaves and debris, the water won’t drain properly. Instead, the gutters overflow and the water sits against your foundation. This leads to the water damage issues mentioned earlier.
  • Soil problems. Soil is often a problem for homeowners. When your home was built, the soil should have been compacted properly to support a foundation. Sometimes it’s not compacted enough, and the soil starts to shift or move. If you have an older home, the soil may shift over time. If your soil is low quality or you have clay soil, it may expand and contract whenever it gets wet. The changing soil can cause foundation problems, too.
  • Trees and vegetation. If you have trees or large shrubs near your foundation, they can affect your home, too. Their roots can grow and disrupt your soil. They can also leech all the water from your soil, which makes your foundation shift.
  • Termites. Termites can eat through wood. Though they can’t damage concrete slab foundations or concrete blocks, they can find cracks in these materials. Once they’re inside the home, they can damage wood materials, which compromises the structural integrity of your home.
  • Poor construction materials. Unfortunately, not all builders are great at their jobs. Mistakes happen, and poor-quality materials create foundation issues later. That’s why we recommend a foundation inspection for all homes before purchase, even if the home is newly built.

When we perform our free inspection, we can help pinpoint the cause of your foundation problems. Then we may suggest solutions to help prevent these issues from recurring in the future.

How Can BAY Crawl Space & Foundation Repair Help?

BAY Crawl Space & Foundation Repair wants to help, whether you have a basement, crawlspace, or concrete slab foundation.

We aim to give homeowners and potential buyers peace of mind. New homes and old homes alike can both suffer from foundation issues. We offer free inspections to ensure your home is stable and free of foundation problems.

After our free foundation inspection, we provide a detailed analysis of the existing foundation problems with possible solutions. We also provide foundation repair services and can provide an estimate if we find any foundation problems.

Don’t worry about expensive repairs, though—we have competitive foundation repair costs and financing options. Our main goal is to make sure your home is safe, and we will work with you to get the job done.

Our foundation repair services are approved by structural engineers. We also provide expert installation by our foundation repair contractors.

Schedule a free home inspection by calling 757-460-0444. You can also use our convenient contact form online.

Please don’t wait. Foundation problems may be dangerous. Let us inspect your home and give you peace of mind.

Written By Blake Heron

Blake has specialized in crawl space & foundation repairs for over 10 years (since 2012). His prior engineering and business degrees from James Madison University in VA prepared him for a mastery of problem solving with crawl space & foundation repair issues. He is one of America’s top experts on crawl space encapsulation. As Founder of both ‘BAY Crawl Space & Foundation Repair’ as well as ‘GridLock Foundations’ he is a leading industry expert on crawl space foundation repairs.

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