Your home’s foundation performs more than one important function: it holds your home above the ground, protects the structure from earth movements, blocks moisture, and acts as insulation against cold. Understandably, it’s extremely concerning when you’re not sure if your home’s foundation is sinking or settling.
Below, we’ll describe some differences between a home with a typical settling foundation and one with a sinking foundation.
A SETTLING FOUNDATION: WHAT’S TYPICAL?
The entire weight of your home bears down on its foundation. That massive weight can cause some subtle movements in the ground below when a home is relatively new. Your foundation may need to “settle” or adjust to those movements at first. Some settling of the foundation is normal within the first 2 or 3 years.
During this settlement period, hairline cracks can form in your home's walls. Typically, these minor cracks will have the following characteristics:
- No more than 1/16 inch wide
- Between 2 to 6 inches long
- Will run vertically, NOT horizontally
While unattractive, these cracks usually don’t signal a structural problem with your home. However, if you’re ever in doubt, it never hurts to consult a trusted foundation repair expert. You should also keep an eye on these cracks to make sure they don’t get dramatically worse.
6 SINKING FOUNDATION WARNING SIGNS: WHAT IS NOT TYPICAL SETTLING?
Now that we’ve touched on what typical “settling” looks like, it’s time to look at the warning signs of a foundation problem. If you see any of the following “red flags,” your foundation may be sinking.
1. Horizontal Cracks
It doesn’t matter how big these are. Even if they would technically qualify as “hairline” in width, cracks that run sideways are a distress call from your foundation.
2. Cracks That Taper from the Bottom to the Top
Check your walls and foundation for cracks that are widest at the bottom and get skinnier toward the top. This is a sign that part of your home’s foundation is sinking apart from the rest.
3. Cracks Around Windows and Doors
Watch out for any cracks that have formed around your home’s doorframes and window frames. Cracks in these areas are typically caused by a shifting foundation.
4. Nail Pops
A nail pop is a term for a circular hole or protrusion that happens in drywall. Either the drywall will move while a nail stays still, or the nail will move while the drywall stays still. The end result is a dimple or hole in your drywall.
Sometimes nail pops are only a cosmetic issue. They tend to signal a structural problem more often in older homes or if multiple nail pops occur in more than one location in a home.
5. Unlevel, Uneven Floors
Your home’s floors shouldn’t have any obvious slope or sagging areas. It’s especially important that the concrete slab in the basement is level. If your floor is uneven, this could mean that part of your foundation is sinking.
6. Doors or Windows That Stick
Are there doors or windows in your home that are extremely hard to open and close? This problem can stem from issues like high humidity or a worn-out frame. However, this issue can also be caused by a sinking foundation that’s changed the shape of the window or door frame. You can use a level to see if the frame’s sides are no longer perfectly upright and horizontal.
WHAT MAKES FOUNDATIONS SINK?
Foundations can move more than they should due to a variety of problems. Typically, when you’re dealing with a sinking foundation:
- there’s either too much water around your foundation, weakening it;
- or the soil movement around your foundation is the problem.
Some soils (like the clay soils we have around the DFW area) expand dramatically when they meet moisture and then shrink drastically during hot, dry weather. That makes for a lot of expanding and contracting earth around the base of your home. That repeated stress season after season will eventually weaken your foundation.
Foundation Repair in Fort Worth
At G.L. Hunt Foundation Repair your safety and well-being are our top priority. We take pride in providing caring service and high-quality foundation repairs with top-of-the-line tools and technology. For assistance in San Antonio or the DFW area, please don’t hesitate to contact us today at (817) 438-2052 to learn more about how we can help you!