Signs You May Need a Home Inspection
This blog post was prepared in collaboration with CressmanRPM.ca
Are you wondering if you need a foundation inspection?
The foundation of your home is integral to the performance of the entire structure. It holds critical significance in keeping your home level and air-tight from water and vermin. If you suspect that your foundation may show severe or minor signs of failure, it's vital to hire a professional for an inspection.
Foundation issues that go unresolved will continue to worsen over time, as will the cost of the repair. It is important that homeowners know what signs to look out for.
We’ve prepared a potential list of signs that may or may not warrant a foundation review. This list is not all-inclusive and should not be interpreted as professional advice. If you see something that you’re worried about, please call a professional for an in-person inspection. Feel free to reach out to our office and we’d be happy to help you.
1. Uneven Floors
Some settlement may be expected over time, especially for homes supported on shallow spread footings. However, if you experience localized heaving or settlement, you may have an issue. The solution may be as simple as adjusting the teleposts. Alternatively, you may be experiencing differential movement along your foundation walls, and/or there may be another underlying issue. Even if you worry that you don’t have the resource to repair the issue, there may be steps that you can take to help stabilize the issue.
2. Cracking or Shifting at Openings
You may start to see cracking in drywall at the corners of windows or doors. Trim around such opening may also appear to be shifting. If you have a brick home, you may also see cracking in grout lines at the corners of windows and doors.
3. Concrete Crack Formation
If you have exposed concrete walls in your basement or crawlspace, it’s a good idea to check every season to see if there are any new or worsening cracks. You can track changes by tracing and dating the crack with a marker. Other signs to look for are bowing toward the centre of the foundation wall, inward movement at the top of the foundation wall, or efflorescence building up on the concrete.
You may also see cracks in the parging at the exterior of your home. Be aware that parging is a thin coat of mortar installed over your foundation wall. Depending on age and workmanship, it may begin to crack or fall off over time, and this may not be evidence of foundation damage. However, if you see a significant crack that looks to go deeper than just the parging, that may mean that your foundation has sustained damage.
4. Bouncing Floors
Do a test and walk over all the flooring surfaces in your home. The floor should feel stable and secure under your feet. However, if the floor feels springy, bouncy, or spongey, it may be time to investigate further. This may be evidence of damage to your floor structure and/or its support.
5. Counters & Cabinets Tilting Away
Check that your kitchen cabinets and countertops haven't started tilting away from the wall. At first, you may barely notice the forming gap. As the problem progresses, you may see a gap that is over half an inch wide.
What Causes Your Foundation Problems?
There are many potential reasons why you may be dealing with foundation issues. Some of these are easier to fix than others if they are diagnosed early. This is why it is important to get a professional to review your foundation: the professional can uncover the root cause and make recommendations for repair.
Here are some of the common causes of home foundation damage:
Expansive soils with changes in soil moisture content
Tree roots close to your home
A slow long-term water leak or an abrupt water main break
Structural modifications that were not completed under permit or designed by a professional
Shallow foundations exposed to changes in soil temperature
Poor drainage about the perimeter of your home
How Does a Home Foundation Inspection Work?
A home foundation inspection should be completed by a professional structural engineer who is knowledgeable and experienced in the type of work
When you meet with your structural engineer, they should ask plenty of questions to understand the problems better. They may enquire about visible damage and the timeline of your foundation trouble signs. They may also perform a visual or detailed survey of the floor elevation
As the inspection progresses, the structural engineer may continue with visually observing your home. The areas under the focus may include your home's interior, exterior, and close surroundings.
Typically, a home foundation inspection may conclude by explaining the movements that take place under your home. You may request a letter or report summarizing the findings or recommendations of the engineer. You may also request to have engineered drawings prepared documenting the required repairs.
The Bottom Line:
Home foundation warning signs should always warrant caution. These issues can degrade quickly, resulting in extensive repairs and considerable expenses. Hiring a structural engineer to conduct a home foundation inspection is your best solution if you think you’ve spotted a red flag.