No house built on a shaky foundation has a solid future.
It’s a harsh truth and sinking feeling many American homeowners discover every day. Shifting soil can lead to an avalanche of foundation issues and costly home repairs. A recent New York Times study found that stabilizing and shoring up foundations costs homeowners more than $4 billion annually. The cost of installing subterranean piers to stabilize a foundation can run north of $10,000. A whole new foundation – or a complete home reset – can produce a $40,000 bill. HomeAdvisor reports the average cost of a foundation repair is $3,772.
“You lose your sense of security,” homeowner Steven Derse, whose 18-year-old home’s foundation issues left him with a $10,000 stabilization bill, told the New York Times. “You love your home and then it literally turns on you.”
Compounding this worsening problem: Subsidence is not covered by most homeowners’ insurance policies in the U.S.
Extreme weather patterns and events are partially to blame for the nationwide explosion in home foundation issues. In California, the Golden State’s historic drought is contracting the soil beneath foundations, causing foundations to crack, sink and pull houses down with them. In the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, flooding is further altering the structural integrity of already compromised foundations.
And the longer a homeowner sits on a foundation problem, the greater the cracks in their home’s structural integrity become. This leads to higher price tags on repairs and the home’s resale value nosediving.
Quicksand offers a greater foothold for the future than a shifting house.
“My home fell apart like a cracker box,” Derse told the Times.
Houses settle overtime, and a little foundation unevenness isn’t cause for panic. But when cracks appear in walls, especially over doorways, floors begin to slope, and windows that used to open and close easily begin to stick or not close, there are growing foundation issues at play.
The Top 10 signs your home is resting on shaky ground are:
- Uneven or sloping floors
- Cracks in exterior or interior brick
- Displaced or cracked moldings
- Wall rotation
- Cracks in walls or bowing of walls
- Cracks in floor, floor tiles or foundation
- Doors and windows not closing properly
- Space between walls and ceilings and floors
- Walls separating from the house
Foundations of the Problem
Soil is a constantly evolving entity, shrinking and swelling with the season. Soils typically dry out and shrink during the summer, and swell in the spring as they absorb water. As soil moves, a home’s foundation can move with it, however slightly. Expansive soils, like clay soils, experience the most dramatic change when they take on excessive moisture.
Other issues that can lead to foundation shifts and problems include poor construction, poor soil preparation, poor drainage, soil evaporation and flooding.
To determine if your home may have foundation issues and if a call to a home restoration professional may be needed, perform a basic perimeter inspection of your home’s foundation.
Check outside to see if your foundation is straight by sighting down the length of your foundation wall from each corner. Walls should be basically straight, both up and down and from side to side. Use a level to check for leaning walls.
Bulges or curves in foundation blocks or poured concrete walls can signal that the foundation has shifted, or that the soil around your home’s may be expanding and contracting, putting pressure on walls.
Next, take a hard look at your home’s concrete with the screwdriver test. If your home has a poured perimeter foundation and the concrete appears to be chipping and flaking, poke it in a couple places with a sharp screwdriver. The concrete should be so tough that you can’t damage it. If the screwdriver test chips or breaks a piece off, the concrete could be decomposing because the mix contains dirty sand, salty sand or too much water. This problem is common with early 20th century homes and has no remedy except for a new foundation.
If your foundation inspection finds trouble signs of an unsettled foundation under your home, make an appointment for a Professional Foundation Evaluation. A professional evaluator can design a custom foundation solution for your home.
For no American home has a solid future while standing on a failing foundation.