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Is My Foundation Failing?

When looking for a new home on the market, it’s always important to remember that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ home. Every home, whether it is a century-old or a brand new build, is more than likely to have some issues, ranging from cosmetic, to minor to major. However, one thing you definitely don’t want to encounter when you’re buying a home is issues with the foundation. It is very important to understand the most common signs of existing foundation problems, and a reputable home inspector is the best resource for identifying issues related to a home’s foundation. 

What are the Most Common Foundation Problems?  

Bulges and Curves – The presence of bulges or curves within block foundation or concrete walls are a good indicator of foundational movement. In Canada, our climate and extreme temperatures cause soil to contract and expand, which in some cases puts pressure on the foundation walls in turn. 

Cracking – Post-excavation, the soil surrounding the foundation of a home is loose. When the soil eventually settles causing nearby vibrations to occur, cracks in your foundation can happen. 

Leaking – If there are cracks in the foundation of your home, this can cause major problems. In most cases, plastic perforated piping (also known as weeping tile) is installed on the outside of the foundation footing to trap accumulating water. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always prevent moisture from getting in. Ultimately, when too much water gets into these cracks, you’ll find yourself with a leaky basement that becomes a damp, wet, and poorly ventilated space that has ideal conditions for mold to grow. 

What are the Warning Signs of a Faulty Basement or Foundation? 

During a pre-purchase home inspection, the home inspector will pay special attention to the foundation and will thoroughly inspect for signs of foundation problems. Ignoring these issues and hoping they go away is not a good option, foundation problems don’t disappear or resolve overnight! In fact, foundation problems will worsen over time, and while they may not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the home, they will likely become dangerous over an extended period of time if left uninspected and unaddressed.  

Some of the most common signs of foundation problems are:  

-Cracking of the Interior/Exterior Brickwork 

-Bowing or Honeycombing/Flaking of the Walls 

-Imbalanced, Uneven, or Sloping Floors 

-Gaps or Cavities between the Walls and the Floor or Ceiling 

-Dampness in the Walls or the Presence of Mold 

-Cracked Floor Tiling  

-Doors and/or Windows that no Longer Fit in their Frames  

It is normal and common for shrinkage cracks to appear in most poured concrete foundations, which are a result of the concrete drying and curing. These cracks typically are less than ⅛, of an inch, and are generally regarded as par for the course. That being said, taking the time to seal any crack (even the tiny ones) can be a great way to guard against water damage or leakage.  

What Causes Foundation Problems? 

Problems related to a home’s foundation can affect all types of foundations, whether it is poured concrete, pier and beam, or another type of foundation. Any type of structure can be affected regardless of how old or young the house is, so it is very important to understand the causes behind these types of problems and how they can be prevented.  

Foundation issues most often occur when there is movement of the soil beneath the structure. As movement occurs, the building will also be forced to move. This usually results in settlement cracks, which in turn can result in a water or moisture issue because of poor drainage. Sometimes, this movement is caused by extreme weather events such as an earthquake, hurricanes, or extreme temperatures.  

How Much does it Cost to Fix a Falling Foundation? 

The cost of repairing foundation issues can depend on the severity and extent of the problem. Repairing minor cracks, for instance, will cost a whole lot less than repairing a home that has settled or sunk into the ground. Generally speaking, crack repair in a foundation can cost between $500-1000 per crack. Fixing a foundation that leaks can cost as much as $8,000 or more. When there are major issues with the foundation of a home it can be very expensive, difficult, and stressful to fix. 

How Can a Home Inspection Help with Foundation Problems? 

Whether you are hoping to purchase a new home, or are concerned about foundation problems in your existing home, having a reputable home inspector conduct a thorough examination of the foundation is very important. The findings from the home inspection will help to inform you about your next steps and how the issue can be resolved. Just as you wouldn’t want to buy a car with faulty steering, you won’t want to buy a home with significant foundation problems either. A home inspection equips you with all the information you need to make the best decision about your home, or potential new home. If you want to learn more about foundation problems and how a home inspector can help, contact us at Building Insights today!   

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