Spring Home Improvement: Don’t Forget Your Foundation

As spring arrives, we like to air out our homes, dispose of winter clutter, and maybe do some small remodeling, touch up, and fix up. Your “honey-do jar” is probably overflowing. Don’t forget your foundation.

Ask yourself:

  • Are there interior / exterior wall cracks I’ve gotten used to? Why is that happening?
  • And those doors: I remember when they opened and closed easily. Why do they stick now?
  • Do my tables tilt because my floors slope?
  • Do my windows sit squarely in the frames or are they racked and/or binding? What about my sliding windows / doors: how do they perform?

While there can be several different casual causes of these and other issues, foundations and column supports should be reviewed for movement, tipping, and settlement.

Winter is a normal time for water, trapped in the soil outside the basement wall, to freeze and heave, cracking your basement wall and incrementally pushing the wall inward, a little each year. Unfortunately, the wall does not normally “spring” back with the arrival of springtime. This can lead to leaking, wall movement, cracking drywall, and other signs of foundation failure.

Should you notice basement wall cracks that are wider at one end, chances are the footing is moving. You will often find another similar crack, compensating for the wall portion that is moving. Not only does this imply movement, it’s an invitation for water intrusion.

Look down the siding line; is it horizontally straight? Check the eave lines for the same issues.

Brick wall cracks are easy to spot, indicating the need for foundation repair. Likewise, chimneys lean or tilt away from the house when their footing begins to settle. Do birds or squirrels build nests inside your chimney? It’s warm for them but not so good for you.

Another area to consider is the shallow footing around your garage or crawl space. These are shallower, weaker, and thus more susceptible to cracking and breaking. Sometimes these are difficult to inspect. Perhaps all you can see is the top of the wall; you can still check visible areas for cracks. Look for evidence of sinking walls or sloping floors in those areas.

Sound like a lot of investigation? We estimate this kind of “check” will take you no more than 20 minutes. Twenty minutes now could save you more serious problems in the future. So be sure to include a foundation review while you’re in the mood for a “spring fix up”.

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Gwen Josephine

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