If you are trying to determine cosmetic vs. foundation issues in your house, the task can be tricky. There are many superficial issues that may seem cosmetic in nature, such as small cracks in sheetrock, peeling paint or cracked kitchen tiles. Sometimes these issues are only cosmetic and can be fixed relatively easily. But many times, what may look like a cosmetic issue might actually be a result of foundation settlement. To help you decide what issues are threatening, here is a list of the most common signs of foundation settlement. (Note: it is always best to have a professional evaluate the issues to determine their originations).
Floor Cracking or Sloping
If floors in your house are cracked or uneven, your foundation could be settling. Settlement causes some parts of the house to rise while others sink, which creates the sloping. If the settlement is severe enough, floors can even crack because of the unevenness.
Doors & Windows that Stick
Misaligned doors and windows are the most commonly reported problems among homeowners, and it may seem like a simple issue. But this kind of problem is usually the first indication of foundation settlement. Replacing the window or door may fix the problem temporarily, but the underlying issue will continue to get worse.
Cracks in Drywall or Sheetrock
Cracks in sheetrock or drywall are the most noticeable because they are inside. They can often be mistaken for cosmetic issues because of their tendency to be relatively small. However, more often than not, these kinds of cracks indicate foundation settlement. Fixing the cosmetic cracks may only prolong the needed foundation repair.
If a foundation slab is cracked, many times homeowners think that replacing the slab is the best option. However, foundation slabs usually crack because the soil underneath them has shifted. Thus, replacing the damaged slab may only result in another broken slab down the road. The best solution is to have the slab inspected and, if necessary, repaired.
Cracks in brick walls, siding or stucco are all indicators of foundation damage, and are especially dangerous. Although they can be any shape, many times external cracks form a “staircase” pattern, which is an assured sign of settlement. This kind of problem is usually not repairable by anything except foundation repair.
Chimneys most often lean or pull away from houses when they lack structural support, which is caused by issues such as shifting soils. Foundation repair using helical piles is the best method of restoring a separating chimney.
Gaps around Windows & Doors
If you notice a door or window with a gap between itself and the wall, chances are your foundation could be settling. This happens when one part of a structure sinks below others, causing imbalance. Look at the gap: it will create an arrow that points to the settling side of your house.