Spring is just around the corner and as snow starts to melt – and you get ready for a brand new season of gardening and yard work – it is a good idea to use some of the time spent outdoors to take a closer look at your home’s foundation.
The garden is still dormant at this point, which makes it easier to spot signs of foundation problems, and if you find any, you might want to get it fixed before you start working on the landscape.
The soil around your home is like a sponge. It shrinks when dry and expands when wet. This constant soil movement exerts an enormous amount of pressure on your foundation walls and can, overtime, compromise the home’sstructural integrity.
That is why it is very important to inspect the foundation periodically, and even more importantly, act quickly at the first sign of any foundation problems.
Gayle and Mike Rusk, owners of Ohio Basement Systems, have been fixing foundation problems in the Northern Ohio area since 1998, and offer some words of advice to area homeowners.
“One thing is sure,” explains Mike, “Foundation problems never go away; never get better on their own. They always get worse. The smart thing to do is to keep an eye for signs of foundation failure and to call for help right away if you find any.”
What should you be looking for when inspecting your home? Gayle lists some of the tell-tale signs of foundation problems that can be easily observed from the outside:
“Stair-step cracking is often a tell-tale sign of foundation settlement and is very common in brick and concrete block walls. Vertical cracks in poured concrete walls are also a reason for concern. If you find them, measure and monitor closely. As your home continues to settle further, vertical cracks may widen, indicating that the wall is rotating outward.”
Doors and windows also offer several clues, because whenever an opening is cut or created in a wall, such as a door or window, it becomes the weakest point of the wall. Because of this, doors and windows often display the first signs of settlement. They can become out-of-square or stop working altogether. Cracks extending from the corners of doors or windows can also appear like they are, and can eventually be, separated from the framing or exterior.”
Other common signs, according to Gayle, are chimneys that begin to separate away from the house. “This might be the most scary and dramatic sign of settlement. Sometimes chimneys are built on a foundation that is not connected to the rest of the home, making them even more at risk for settlement-related problems.”
“Homeowners have mixed reactions when they discover some of these signs,” says Gayle. “Some will dismiss them until things get really bad; some will get extremely scared at the smallest sign of foundation damage. I wish all of them knew that it is really easy to find out what is going on with their homes, free of charge! Many reputable companies – including ours – offer free inspections for these types of problems. So it costs them nothing to get a few of them to look at the problem and tell them exactly how serious it is, what their options are and exactly how much it will cost to have it fixed. ”
Your home is most likely your most valuable asset. There is no reason to let foundation problems compromise your investment or your peace of mind. Are you ready to give your foundation a quick checkup? You won’t regret it!