A concrete foundation is the proverbial rock upon which a house is built, so when it begins to settle due to erosion or another issue, it’s no small matter. Since the signs of foundation settlement issues can be surprisingly subtle, it’s a good idea to be proactive about identifying them in your home. Here are a few things to look for:

Foundation settlement can cause major structural problems in a home, but the warning signs are often subtle. Photo: Gaelic Construction (2014)

Foundation settlement can cause major structural problems in a home, but the warning signs are often subtle. Photo: Gaelic Construction (2014)

Wall cracks
While cracks in walls aren’t always a concern, in some instances they can be a direct result of foundation settlement, such as diagonal cracks at the corners of doors and windows. If you see these types of cracks, there’s a simple way to determine if they’re related to foundation movements: fill them in with latex paint. If the same cracks reappear within a couple of months, it’s likely the wall is continuing to move due to foundational shifting.

Damaged or uneven floors
Especially apparent on tile or hardwood surfaces, floor damage such as bulges, cracks and warping are further potential indicators of a settling foundation, as are uneven floor surfaces. To test if your floor is level, set a tennis ball down at one end of the room—if it rolls to the other side, there’s a good chance your foundation has settled.

An unfamiliar term to most consumers, “efflorescence” is a white, powdery scaling that accumulates on the insides of concrete foundation walls. It’s often a sign of hydrostatic pressure, which means water is being pushed through the wall due to inadequate drainage. To avoid issues that arise from drainage problems, make sure your home’s gutter downspouts are correctly terminated and the surrounding ground is properly graded.

To find a Diamond Certified foundation contractor in your area, click on one of the links below.

Alameda County: www.diamondcertified.org/alameda-foundation-contractors
Contra Costa County: www.diamondcertified.org/contra-costa-foundation-contractors
Marin County: www.diamondcertified.org/marin-foundation-contractors
San Francisco: www.diamondcertified.org/san-francisco-foundation-contractors
San Mateo County: www.diamondcertified.org/san-mateo-foundation-contractors
Santa Clara County: www.diamondcertified.org/santa-clara-foundation-contractors
Sonoma County: www.diamondcertified.org/sonoma-foundation-contractors

7 Responses

  1. Ian Johanson says:

    Thanks for your post. I have heard horror stories from some of my friends about foundation issues with homes. I am having a home built and would like to avoid all of these issues. Is there anything I should know about before I pick a lot for my home and the excavators start their work?

  2. Jordan Jorgenson says:

    Thanks. I have noticed a couple of cracks in my some of the walls outside my home. I know that this is probably a result of the house settling like you suggest. However, is it something I should be worried about? If I fill it in and the cracks come back should I do something about the foundation or just let it continue to settle?

  3. Judy Wilson says:

    I’m glad that you mentioned how uneven floors are a sign of foundation issues. I thought it was odd that my floors have been feeling uneven, so it help me to know that this is probably because of problems with my foundation. I’ll take your advice to have my home evaluated so that I can have any issues repaired to resolve this problem.

  4. David Hawkins says:

    I had no idea that damaged walls could mean that your foundation is in need of repair. I know that I have a crack that is starting to go up my wall so I might have bigger problems. I’ll have to call a foundation repair person and have them come take a look at what is going on in my home. Thanks for the great info!

  5. Braden Bills says:

    I went into my basement and I noticed some cracks on the walls. I didn’t realize that it was a sign of foundation issues! I’ll make sure that I get a professional to repair it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kenneth Gladman says:

      I noticed the same thing in my home. I don’t want to risk any further damage to my basement or foundation. I think anything with the foundation should be addressed immediately.

  6. John Carston says:

    I’ll have to look over my home for signs of the foundation damage that you’ve listed. I knew that wall cracks could indicate a foundation problem but I didn’t know that uneven floors were a symptom as well. I had never heard of efflorescence but I’ll look for that as well.

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