Whether you are buying or selling a home, it’s important to understand the state of the foundation. Because when it comes to concrete settlement, you should be aware of what is natural settling and what needs a closer look – and possibly repair. Depending on the current condition of the foundation of a home, it can be very easy to prevent further degradation or reverse any damage, making the foundation even stronger than before.
What is Settling?
Settling is the natural changes that will occur in a foundation due to time and weather. Over time, a new home will gradually sink down further into the ground. When a home is being built, contractors take the climate and soil into account, and they know to expect a certain amount of settling as time passes. Typically settlement is more noticeable in older homes, but this process is not limited to older homes like many people believe.
Brand-new homes can have some of the worst damage, caused by improper soil preparation when the home is built, or due to extreme weather conditions. For example, if a home is constructed in the middle of a rainy season, the clay soil is as swollen as it can get. Over the next few years, the home experiences normal settlement; but if a drought occurs, the clay retracts and the house can drop several inches in just a few months.
How to Differentiate Between Natural Settling and a Foundation Problem
Visible cracks in the home’s foundation can be a sign of a problem, but they can also be non-threatening settlement. A serious foundation problem will have a combination of other signs, like the examples below.
Cracks in Walls This is one of the primary indicators that your foundation has been compromised. A forty-five degree angle or stair step crack is a sure sign that the foundation is not just shifting, but has resulted in tearing of the sheetrock.
Sticking Doors or Windows Inspect all doors and windows, and if they constantly stick for no apparent reason, this can be a sign of your foundation shifting. This happens because the frame twists out of balance as the foundation shifts.
Not Just Ground Level When a foundation has been compromised, the most obvious signs of damage will be near the top of your house rather than the bottom. Carefully inspect the top story of your home from the outside using a ladder. Look for cracks that appear above window frames – this is the most common place for damage to become visible.
The Foundation Itself Of course damage can be visible within the foundation itself as well. Look for horizontal cracks in the actual foundation. A horizontal crack is a sign of too much water pressure building up behind the foundation.
When to Bring in the Experts
If you have found only hairline cracks that are localized to the visible foundation, mark the crack and take note of its size so that you can monitor whether or not it gets bigger over time. If you are selling your home, it’s always a good idea to have a professional determine and document natural settling so you are prepared for a buyer.
If you have found cracks along with some of the other interior signs of a foundation problem, contact the experts at AquaGuard Foundation Solutions before having to turn away any potential buyers.
Lastly, if you are buying a home, know the signs to look for of foundation settlement vs. a real foundation problem. And don’t be afraid to insist the seller bring a foundation pro in before you sign the dotted line. Happy house hunting/selling!
If you're looking for structural foundation repair in the Atlanta and Marietta areas, look no further than AquaGuard Foundation Solutions, the premier foundation repair Experts! Contact us today for a free estimate!