House Settling Cracks: Foundation Issues Or Normal Settling?
House settling cracks can look scary, especially when you can’t differentiate between normal house settling cracks and foundations issues. A home is the most valuable asset most people possess. So, it makes sense that maintaining a home’s structural integrity is a top priority. As the most crucial structural element, it’s imperative that it’s built correctly.
When a foundation is properly tailored to a house and its surroundings, it can last for generations. Without a proper foundation, a variety of structural problems can occur, and this can end up costing you. When a home settles after construction, huge amounts of force are exerted on the connected elements of the home. This can sometimes result in foundation problems or foundation settling.
House Settling Cracks VS Foundation Problems:
What is foundation settling?
Settling refers to a house “sinking into” its surroundings by lowering into the soil over time. Typically, settling isn’t a problem, however, too much settling may be cause for concern.
Foundation settling is caused by the soil beneath your home shifting and moving, therefore soil type is important. Contractors should always analyze the soil type prior to breaking ground.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 25% of all American homes are affected by soil expansion. Soil expands and contracts depending on moisture levels.
Foundation settling may cause many problems. For example, jammed windows and doors, water intrusion, cracking of masonry work, and other possible defects. But, if the homeowner acts quickly at the first signs of settling, damage can be drastically reduced.
Warning Signs That Your Foundation Is Settling:
- Foundation walls are not aligned with the framing of the structure.
- Siding, brick, or stone has pulled away from exterior doors and/or windows leaving gaps.
- Cracks have appeared in the basement’s poured concrete walls.
- Chimney has cracked, tilted, or is leaning off the plumb.
- “Step cracks” have appeared in exterior brick walls or stonework.
- Inside doors don’t open or close easily and/or show gaps around the jamb, especially towards the top.
- Windows stick in position, either open or shut, and are quite difficult to move.
- Window and door trims or boards pull away from the exterior walls
- Interior trim or molding pops off the walls or separates around doors or windows.
Warning Signs Of Foundation Problems:
Foundation problems occur when foundation settling becomes extreme. And extreme settling can lead to a compromised building structure. Some signs you may have serious foundation issues are:
- Counters and cabinets separating from the walls: When walls, cabinets and other areas of the home cease to be level, it may be a sign of foundation problems.
- Floors that are uneven or sagging: You could have a serious foundation problem if you have floors that appear to be dipping, sagging, or bowing. Dipping, sagging or bowing floors, aren’t just unsightly, they can also be a serious safety issue.
- Gaps around exterior doors or window frames: Your home could have serious foundation issues if you notice gaps around your window frames or exterior doors. Frames of doors may become warped and prevent all types of doors from functioning properly. Also, doors may start to stick or fail to open or close properly. Sticky doors are frequently an indication there is some sort of problem with your foundation.
- Foundation upheaval: This is a serious problem and it could eventually cause your home to become unsafe to inhabit. Your home could be experiencing foundation upheaval if the slab foundation has moved in an upward direction and may be caused by under-slab plumbing leaks. Upheaval is also caused by an abundance of moisture under a slab foundation or stagnant water near the foundation.
Should Homeowners Worry About House Settling Cracks Or Foundation Problems?
Foundation settling usually isn’t threatening. Some settling is normal and soil expansion accounts for most settling. But it’s often minor and shouldn’t have a big impact on your home’s appearance.
Foundation problems can be threatening. These problems are serious and usually start with serious warning signs. However, cracks on the wall’s surface do not automatically mean there’s a problem with your foundation.
Foundation settling is more common in older homes. However, new homes, especially those in extreme weather conditions or those on poorly prepared sites, can also experience foundation settling.
How Much Does Foundation Repair Cost?
This is the most frequently asked questions by homeowners looking to have their foundation repaired. The honest answer to this question is – it depends.
There are a few variables that should be taken into account, and because of this, estimating the cost of foundation repair can be daunting. Some factors that affect repair costs include house size, stability of the soil, type of foundation, the contractor, and the level of foundation settlement.
Other variables that can impact cost:
- Hidden obstacles in the ground, such as tree roots, extra-deep footings, or old repair methods.
- Having to obtain a local building permit, if required.
- Getting a soil report prepared by a geotechnical engineer.
- Needing a structural engineer to assess the damage.
But typically the homeowner will pay between $1,849 and $6,344 to repair normal foundation problems.
Since your home is probably the most expensive investment you’ll ever make, it pays to protect it. However, to protect it, you must first be educated. This information is especially important when buying or selling a home with foundation issues. Hopefully, this guide has helped to increase your knowledge of foundation settling.