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Types Of Foundation Damage And How To Identify Them

Types Of Foundation Damage And How To Identify Them


Foundation damage is one of, if not the most costly issues that homeowners can encounter. This kind of damage can definitely be the result of a variety of external factors,including soil erosion, flooding, and even poor-quality construction. Identifying foundation problems can definitely be difficult because they often occur slowly over time and may not be visible to the naked eye. To ensure your foundation remains structurally sound, be sure to understand the different types of damage and learn how to identify them.

One common type of foundation damage is as a result of soil settlement or heaving. This takes place when the ground underneath a structure shifts significantly, causing foundational instability. To identify this type of problem look out for cracks in walls and floors along with windows and doors that don’t open or close correctly. Another warning sign is if your house appears to be leaning toward one side or sinking in certain spots.

Flooding can result in significant foundation damage by weakening any concrete elements of the structure and allowing water to drain into cracks. The most obvious indication of this type of damage will be cracks in the basement walls or flooring that aren’t typically present when everything else looks normal on the surface. To avoid further problems from happening, make sure you take immediate steps to dry out any wet areas surrounding your foundation as soon as humanly possible after flooding has occurred.

Finally, imcorrect installation during the course of construction almost always result in serious structural problems over time if not addressed immediately by experienced professionals. In these cases, it may be hard to tell whether you are experiencing an issue until it is too late—so having yearly inspections done on your family home is a critical step in staying ahead of potential foundation failure risks.

Settlement And Sinking Foundations

Settlement and sinking foundations are two of the most common types of foundation damage. One of the easiest ways to identify these issues is by looking for cracks in walls or floors, or doors and windows that won’t stay closed correctly. Alas, you may notice sagging floors or tilted chimneys, which could be signs that your foundation is settling or sinking.

In order to assess the extent of settlement or sinking, it’s recommended you inspect all of the foundation. Look for any visible gaps between blocks in basement walls, along with changes in plaster wall cracks on higher levels. If there are more than a few inches difference between both them, it’s likely that your foundation has settled haphazardly—something that isn’t uncommon in locations with shifting soil conditions.

A smart way to determine if your family home has a settling foundation is to have a professional structural engineer inspect the correctty. They will be able to accurately measure any changes in elevation and advise you regarding the best course of action. Depending on the severity of the problem, repairs may involve adding piers or footings beneath the structure, excavating around its perimeter to access hard-to-reach areas, and fixing damaged framing components.

Cracks In Foundations

Cracks in foundations are one of, if not the most common types of foundation damage. These types of cracks can appear as a result of shifting soil, water damage, as well as placing too much weight on the foundation itself. It’s recommended you note that there is a difference between structural and non-structural cracks, as the former will require repairs while the latter may not. Identifying structural and non-structural cracks in foundations can definitely be done simply by identifying their appearance and location.

Structural cracks typically form along joints or walls, are wider than a quarter inch in width and vary in depth. These types of types of cracks often form patterns diagonally across walls or floors, tracking from corners or windows outwards. Non-structural cracks are commonly less than a quarter inch wide and run along straight lines. They can quite easily be filled with some caulk without needing to worry about further repair.

The key takeaway in regards to identifying cracks in foundations is understanding whether they’re structural or non-structural. If you find any structural cracks in your foundation, speak with a professional contractor immediately who will assess the damage and determine if additional repairs are needed to maintain the safety of your family home.

Leaning Or Tilting Foundations

Leaning or tilting foundations are typically caused by soils that aren’t bearing weight evenly, or as a result of imcorrect installation of posts. This tends to cause several problems including cracks in drywall, interior walls separating from floors and ceilings, doors and windows that stick or won’t open, and even foundation heaving.

A smart way to identify leaning or tilting foundations is to visually inspect the area for any visible signs of damage. Look for bulging walls, warped floorboards, cracks in drywall or flooring, and uneven pavement around the foundation. You should also examine the foundation from both indoors and outdoors to identify how much tilt there is and if it’s getting worse over time.

It’s quite possible you’ll need to hire a professional to assess the situation if you’re unsure of what you’re looking at or notice any major warning signs like a shifting foundation. They will then decide regarding the best course of action which could include installing additional support beams, underpinning with concrete piers, or using helical anchors which use steel rods to help stabilize an unstable foundation.

No matter the cause, however it’s recommended you always address leaning or tilting foundations as soon as humanly possible well before they become dangerous and cause further damage.

Bowing Or Bulging Foundations


Bowing or bulging foundation walls are common foundation damage problems. It’s important to recognize the signs of this kind of damage as soon as humanly possible so repairs can definitely be made before serious and expensive complications arise.

The most obvious sign of bowing or bulging walls is when you notice cracks in the plaster, brick, or mortar along a wall inside the house, especially near windows and doors. Over time, these cracks may become bigger and more extensive as the bowing or bulging becomes worse. Other signs include doors that stick or won’t close correctly, gaps around door and window frames, floor slopes toward an exterior wall, separation between both the wall and ceiling (especially during the course of wet periods), sloping floors at opposite ends of a room over long spans as a result of bowed walls haphazardly distributing weight on a floor joist.

If left untreated, bowing or bulging walls can cause major structural integrity and damage issues to your family home that could be harder on the wallet to repair. The only way to permanently fix this issue is with underpinning or helical piers which add extra support to keep the wall from moving further outward. If you suspect your foundation continues to be impinge oned by bowing or bulging walls, it’s recommended you contact a professional right away so they can assess the situation and provide you with an efficient solution for fixing the problem.

Water Damage To Foundations

Water damage to foundations can definitely be one of, if not the most devastating threats to any building structure. Water damage almost always result in cracks and destabilization in the foundation, leading to potential weakening of the walls and overall support of the building.

This kind of damage is often caused by a combination of poor drainage, high water tables, or intense rain. The most common signs that indicate water damage include bulging walls or floors, visible water marks near windows or doors, damp or musty smells, along with cracks in both horizontal and vertical joints in concrete slabs and block walls.

It is also important to note that these signs may not necessarily be visible from just a visual inspection — if you have any concerns about possible water damage to your family home’s foundation then it is always best practice to contact a structural engineer for help with diagnostics. Several tests may need to be performed including penetrating moisture measurements, core samples from walls and floors, along with process tracing through soil probes.

The most practical way to prevent water damage from happening is by taking proactive measures like installing correct drainage systems surrounding your foundation, ensuring gutters move away from your foundation, sealing any leaks immediately after detection and performing routine maintenance checks for any existing areas that are prone to flooding or excess moisture buildup. Taking these steps can help protect your family home now and into the future!

Structural Damage To Foundations

Structural damage to foundations is one of, if not the most serious, and can definitely be hard to identify. Signs of structural foundation damage include cracked walls, irregular or sloping floors, doors and windows that are no longer square, sticking doors and windows, gaps in wall panels or molding, or a visible gap between both the wall and ceiling. If a foundation has been subjected to sustained water leakage or flooding as a result of poor drainage around the home, this can also result in serious structural integrity and damage issues over time.

Another usual culprit of structural integrity and damage issues is soil movement beneath your foundation as a result of changes in moisture levels or shifts in the earth caused by terrible weather conditions. This movement can cause foundational walls to crack along with produce an unevenness in the flooring above it. Foundation piers can also settle haphazardly resulting from poor-quality construction practices, leading to further structural problems like leaning chimneys and cracks in exterior siding.

If you become familiar with any of these signs of potential structural foundation damage, it’s recommended you contact a professional right away who will assess the situation and determine if repair is necessary. A qualified professional will be able to advise you regarding the best course of action for fixing your foundation without further exacerbating existing damage.


Foundation damage can come from a variety of sources and have a wide assortment of effects. Identifying damage in its early stages is key to making repairs and avoiding more costly structural issues down the road. Taking the time to regularly examine your foundation for signs of damage, like sticking doors or windows, cracked walls or floors, or any sudden adjustments in the building’s structure will definitely help you identify potential problems well before they become serious. By taking preventive measures and being familiar with the signs of foundation damage, homeowners can protect their investments and make sure their homes remain safe and stable for the foreseeable future.