Most Common Signs of Foundation Problems

Foundation problems cause some of the most expensive home repairs for many homeowners. On average, foundation repairs cost anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000 or more if the issues damage other sections of the house.

Identifying foundation problems on your own can be tricky since the signs often appear like minor cosmetic problems. For instance, some cracks in the wall are just superficial, while others signify significant shifts in elevation.

Many foundation problems have subtle warning signs and may go unseen for weeks to months. If you don’t know what house foundation problems look like, you’ve come to the right page! We’ll go over the most common warning signs of foundation troubles below.

Exterior Wall Cracks

If your home’s exterior walls have cracks, please pay attention to them. Wall cracks resulting from natural house settlements aren’t dangerous in most cases. You can fix minor cracks easily with some plaster and paint. But larger wall cracks often indicate serious foundation issues. They include:

  • Cracks that expand over time
  • Noticeable cracks that are wider than 0.25”
  • Huge diagonal cracks around the corners of doorframes
  • Uncannily long horizontal cracks 

If a drywall crack keeps reappearing after plastering it over, your foundation might have an underlying issue. 

Ceiling Cracks

Cracks in the ceiling may indicate a building has underlying foundation problems. The ceiling structure can shift even with the least significant foundation settling, causing ceiling cracks. Cracks extending across the ceiling’s entire length or matching vertical cracks can signify serious foundation troubles.

Sinking Ground around the Home

Walk around your house if you suspect something’s wrong with its foundation. If you notice any sinking in the ground around your home, this could signify foundation damage. Sinking around the home can result from serious water drainage or leakage problems.

Weeds Close to the Foundation 

Most homeowners don’t like weeds growing so close to their home’s foundation. 

If they’re simply scattered around, it’s nothing to worry about. However, if they’re clustered and growing near the foundation line, this might indicate that too much moisture around the foundation is potentially causing problems.

It also goes without saying that if you notice weeds sprouting from the foundation line, this means the foundation itself has cracks. 

Uneven Floors 

One of the most evident signs of foundation damage is uneven flooring. This problem is also quite common in older houses, so that doesn’t mean you overlook it. Signs of an uneven floor can include buckling floors, squeaky boards, or a depression at the center of a room. 

Uneven floors may be due to foundation problems, termite damage, poor wood quality, and moisture damaging the wood under the floor. You can identify the slope by spilling liquid on the floor. If the liquid flows in one direction, you’ve got a damaged foundation.

Since it’s difficult to determine the exact cause of uneven floors in your home, you must call a foundation repair professional to fix the issue. 

Tile Floor Cracks 

If your home’s foundation has problems, your tile floors should be able to confirm that. If you notice unexplained cracks in your floor tiles, a foundation issue is highly likely to be the root cause. Therefore, be sure to call a professional to examine the issue further and find a solution.

Sticking Doors and Windows 

If your foundation moves even slightly, you may have trouble opening or closing doors and windows. This is because the slight movement of the foundation makes frames around the doors and windows also shift. 

Chimney Movement 

Another warning sign of foundation troubles is when a chimney moves too much. It may collapse completely, putting your family members in danger. If your chimney looks somewhat out of kilter, contact a professional to repair and stabilize it.

Bowed Walls 

If your exterior or interior walls have started to bow, it could indicate that your foundation is shifting. However, you shouldn’t confuse a paint blister with bowing. A painter blister can indicate water or heat damage to your drywall and paint. While this problem may require urgent attention, it’s got nothing to do with foundation problems.

Musty Smell in the Basement 

A musty smell in your crawl space and basement corners can be a signal that your foundation’s in trouble. The smell itself is normally mildew and might be the result of leaking basement walls.

A smelly basement could be due to plumbing issues, but it may also be due to moisture from outside seeping in through the cracks in the foundation. 

Standing Water Under the Home

Rainwater must be directed away from your home through gutters, well-directed downspouts, as well as drainage systems. Poor drainage often collects water underneath a house, leading to foundation problems.

Windows and Doors Coming Off Walls

Windows or doors tearing away from walls is another subtle sign of foundation troubles. That can cause serious cracks and damage. Be aware of gaps beneath doors, crooked door frames, and window frames splitting from surrounding trim. 

Doors and Windows Getting Stuck or Not Latching

It’s usually easy to fix a stuck window or door, but that’s not always a sign of a minor issue.

If all the windows or doors get stuck when you try to open or close them, your house could have foundation problems. This happens when the foundation starts to sag, meaning that the house isn’t square anymore.

Drainage Problems 

Its drainage system is one of the main parts of a house that requires regular maintenance. If you notice a minor drainage issue, it could be part of a severe issue.

Drainage issues might result from leaking pipes or clogged major sewer lines. These problems might lead to an imbalance in the terrain due to soil expansion or contraction, seriously affecting the entire foundation of the home. 

Damp Crawl Space

Dampness in a home’s crawl space is a good sign that you already have foundation problems or soon could.

If your crawl space has puddles of water, that’s not a good sign, but the water alone won’t damage your home. Moisture causes mold, rot, and energy loss and attracts household pests.

Warped Siding 

Cracked, warped, or buckled siding can be due to moisture or other problems, including severe structural issues with your house’s foundation.

If you notice gaps between planks or warped siding, it’s a telltale sign that your foundation has issues. A wood cladding home usually has evidence of a foundation problem. There will be spaces between where siding lengths join and where the siding extends beyond the bottom and top. 

FAQs on Most Common Signs of Foundation Problems 

What Are the Indicators of a Damaged Foundation?

Some common indicators of a damaged foundation include:

  • Cracks in flooring
  • Stuck doors and windows
  • Bowed or uneven floors 
  • Bowed or cracked walls
  • Wall rotation
  • Out of place or cracked molding
  • Diagonal cracks at door or window corners
  • Exterior and interior stair step cracks
  • Chimneys or porches that have split from the house
  • Gaps between the ceiling and wall, between the floor and wall, or both 

What Happens When a Foundation is Faulty?

When a foundation is faulty, secondary problems can occur. For instance, if your foundation is weak, your home might settle, potentially causing problems such as cracked floors, doors that are difficult to close, uneven floors, and many other problems.

When Should You Avoid a House with Foundation Problems?

You shouldn’t buy a house with foundation problems if it has diagonal or horizontal cracks measuring over ¼ inch. 

How Do You Identify Structural Faults in Your Home?

Here are eight top signs that indicate that your home has structural damage:

  • Damp subfloor
  • Crumbling brick/concrete
  • Cracks in the chimney
  • Bulging or cracks on ceiling and walls
  • Soil separating from house walls
  • Uneven gaps on doors and windows
  • Cracking, sagging, or sloping of floors

Can Foundation Issues Bring Down a House?

Yes, foundation issues can ultimately bring the house down. However, it’s not that easy. It may take years for your home to develop a foundation problem that’s serious enough to make it collapse. If your house does collapse, it’ll mostly be leaning towards a specific section of the home.  

Final Thoughts 

Your house is arguably your most treasured investment. That’s why it’s important to protect it from structural damage. If you believe there are issues in your home’s foundation, it pays to know how to identify the most common warning signs.

Since foundation problems can be due to various factors, including climate, type of soil, poor foundation drainage, and poor soil compaction, it’s always wise to keep an eye on signs of trouble.

Suppose you’re worried about foundation issues in your home. In that case, it’s best to call in an experienced foundation repair professional and have them examine your concrete slab, basement, or pier and beam foundation. The contractor should get to the root of the issues and apply the proper fixes.