What is the definition of Foundation Failure?
Our definition of “foundation failure” is when one of the following is present:
1) Doors and Windows are Non-Functional
2) Plumbing Damage
3) Severe and Progressive Damage to Framing
4) Structural Integrity at Risk
Most of the damage that is seen by homeowners is damage to sheetrock (interior walls) and brick walls (exterior walls). For the most part, this type of damage is cosmetic and the structural integrity of the house is not at risk. However, there are many cases where the foundation’s movement has caused much more severe damage. Let’s take a closer look at these symptoms of a moving foundation.
Doors and Windows are Non-Functional
If your primary front or back door can no longer be opened then it is non-functional and the homeowner has lost the use of part of the house. If the windows stick and can no longer be opened then they are also non-functional. These are common symptoms when a concrete slab foundation has cracked and part of the foundation is higher than the other part.
Newer sewer and drain pipes are almost always made of PVC which has some flexibility. Older sewer and drain pipes are iron or concrete and have less flexibility. If the soil under the home’s foundation is moving (expanding and contracting) then the pipes can be broken causing an under slab leak – which should be repaired as soon as possible to avoid further soil movement and foundation damage.
Severe and Progressive Damage to Framing
When brick walls separate from the wood framing of the house it becomes serious. When brick walls separate from window frame it is also serious. Movement at the base of the house can be “magnified” at the top of the house. Separation of roof joists, rafters, and ridges can be a very serious issue in some houses where there has been significant foundation settlement or uplift.
As stated earlier, most foundation problems do not jeopardize the structural integrity of the home. However, in some cases the structural integrity of the home is at risk. Chimneys can and have fallen to the ground and taken some of the brick wall and framing too. Roofs can literally “split open” if the foundation movement is significant. The framing of the house can sag due to foundation deflection.
So it is always a good idea to have an expert evaluate your home and its concrete foundation if you see warning signs of foundation failure.
Oh, by the way, did you see our page on “Monumental Foundation Failure?” – a 12 story condo building fell to the ground. You can find the link under “Warning Signs.”
Return to the Home page