Signs Your Home Needs a Foundation Inspection


For many Americans, a home is the largest investment they will make in their lifetime. So, it only makes sense to protect it. That may mean:

  • Checking that indoor and outdoor air vents are not blocked
  • Vacuuming heat registers and heat vents
  • Inspecting electrical cords for wear
  • Testing smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers
  • Inspecting tub and sink drains for debris
  • Cleaning faucet aerators and showerheads to remove mineral deposits
  • Checking the water softener and replenishing it if necessary
  • Cleaning the furnace filter to remove dust build-ups

However, what many fail to include in their home maintenance checklist or even investment property inspection is the foundation inspection. Without a solid foundation, a myriad of structural issues can plague your home that could end up costing you cash to repair.

So, whether you are selling your home or settling into your fifteenth year as a homeowner, it’s important to have your home’s foundation inspected.

Foundation problems take many forms. Some are subtle: a homeowner may assume that his or her windows and doors are sticking because of hardware problems. On the other hand, some are pretty obvious: you may notice huge gaps in the foundation, floors and/or walls.

Common telltale Signs of Foundation Problems

1.    Cabinets and counters tilting and pulling away from the wall.

Have you noticed that your kitchen counters and cabinets are separating from the wall? In the beginning, the gap may even be unnoticeable. However, with time, the gap may measure as much as half an inch.

At this point, the underlying problem may be serious. Walls become uneven as a result of foundation shifting or movement.

2.    Floors appearing to be out of level.

Have you noticed that your floors appear to be out of level? Or, do they appear dipping, sagging or bowing? If so, it’s a sign of a foundation problem.

When foundation problems affect concrete slabs, floors have a tendency to become uneven. Where pier and beam foundations are concerned, floors may appear saggy.

Because pier and beam foundations aren’t directly positioned on the ground and concrete slabs are, they are impacted differently. Though both will certainly have flooring problems, the damage signs may look different.

Besides being unsightly, floors that are out of level pose a safety risk, especially for the elderly and children.

Left unaddressed, the floors may become out of level by up to two inches.

3.    Doors sticking or failing to open or close properly.

When doors begin to stick, many homeowners think the hardware components are the bane of the problem. In some cases, this might be true. However, in the vast majority of the time, the problem is the foundation.

When interior doors are impacted, they have a tendency to drag or stick at the top. With exterior doors, they are more likely to hang down at the top or drag at the threshold.

Sometimes doors may fail to function properly because of high levels of precipitation. This oftentimes is the case following a heavy downpour. Usually, the problem will go away several days once the rains have stopped.

However, if the problem persists, have your foundation checked. You may also notice cracks and fractures in and around your home.

4.    Small bumps appearing on your home’s floor.

This problem is also referred to as foundation upheaval. It’s often common in areas with expansive clay soils like Texas. In wet conditions, the expansive clay soil swells. The swelling, over time, puts a considerable amount of pressure on your foundation, which may cause it to fail.

In many cases, heaving generally affects the perimeter area of a concrete slab foundation.

5.    Your structure appearing to sink into the ground.

This is the opposite of foundation upheaval. It’s also called foundation settlement. Whereas foundation upheaval pushes up, foundation settlement sinks the structure.

As time passes, you may begin to notice one side of your house is lower than the other. This is because settlement occurs unevenly.

Initially, the dip may be subtle, say, half an inch. However, over time, your house may dip into the earth by up to four inches. At this point, it’s likely that your home will become uninhabitable.

The longer you ignore the problem, the worse the trouble will become. In the vast majority of the time, gaps resulting from foundation settlement are vertical. So, when inspecting your foundation, keep this in mind.

6.    Cracks appearing on your foundation, floors and/or walls.

Have you noticed cracks and other types of fractures in your foundation, floors and/or walls? If so, it’s a sign of trouble. Cracks often appear when the foundation has moved.

Moderate cracks usually measure circa 0.2”. Anything above that is a serious sign of a foundation problem.

Foundation problems can lead to major structural damage within your home. That’s why prevention is better than cure. If you notice any of these signs, call a foundation repair expert immediately. Postponing the problem will only make it worse.


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