Whether you live in Kansas City, St. Louis, or Springfield, your Missouri home is one of the largest investments you’ll make in your lifetime. That’s why homeowners across the state must know how to identify the early warning signs of foundation problems before costly repairs are required. Knowing the common indicators of foundation issues is the best way to protect your home now and in the future.
Why do foundations settle over time? Every homeowner probably already knows their home is built on a foundation, which was built directly on the ground beneath the home. But just like a cliff or drill site can show us the many layers of soil and other debris that make up the ground we walk on, our homes are also precariously placed on multiple layers of shifting soil.
Over time, a home’s foundation can shift due to weather and soil conditions, location, moisture, building materials, and more. This settling process can produce cracks in a home’s foundation and impact the load-bearing walls of the home as well. It’s also important to know that foundation issues don’t only affect older homes. These common indicators should be considered by all homeowners as a way to identify small foundation issues before they become big ones.
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Early warning signs of foundation problems
Over time, a home’s foundation can be impacted by many things that are out of our control as homeowners. From weather conditions to shifting soil and natural disasters to temperature changes, as a home settles, the impact on its foundation can be shown throughout the home. Foundation problems can also grow to hurt the structural integrity of the home, causing sagging floors, bowing walls, cracks, and flood damage.
Here’s what to look for to identify foundation problems:
- Water damage to the home that did not come from a specific source like a leaking pipe or open window
- Sticking doors and windows that grow even harder to open over time
- Unexplained cracks in the home’s walls or flooring materials, especially near doors and windows
- A cracking or leaning chimney
- Slanted or sagging floors and walls
- Mildew or mold growth in the basement or crawl space
- Gaps between doors, windows, and exterior walls that can cause water and pest damage
- Sinking exterior porches and stoops
What’s the difference between foundation settling and heaving?
Homes are built on top of a concrete foundation that serves as the base of the home. Stem, or main walls, are built off the foundation, providing the home’s structural foundation. That’s why a problem with the home’s foundation can impact other areas throughout the home, from the walls and floors to exterior windows and doors.
There are three main problems that cause foundation issues, according to Realtor.com:
- Stem wall deterioration
- Foundation settlement
- Foundation heave
Foundation settlement is due to changing soil conditions beneath the home. The impact of that settlement on the home’s foundation can be impacted by weather and soil conditions, including moisture in the ground. The opposite occurs when the foundation is impacted by soil rise, also called heaving. As the ground settles in some areas, it can actually rise in others, causing cracks and other damage to a home’s foundation.
In addition to weather damage, leaky pipes or other flooding events can impact soil conditions and lead to foundation damages, as can poor water drainage from a home’s gutters and downspouts. That’s why it’s important to clean gutters regularly and point water flow from the downspouts away from the home, ensuring water doesn’t pool near the foundation.
What to know about foundations when purchasing a home
Luckily for most buyers across the country, most state laws require that homeowners share all information about foundation issues and recent repairs during the buying process. That shows you how important the health of a home’s foundation really is.
Before you purchase a new home, a professional inspector will review all parts of the home, looking for issues and concerns that need repair. This home inspection should include the foundation as well. If foundation issues are suspected, they should be reviewed by a professional foundation expert and a plan to repair them created immediately.
In addition, if repairs to the home’s foundation have already been made, it’s important to review them and keep the warranty information to protect your investment in the future. If major repairs to the home’s foundation are identified in the home inspection process, you can ask the seller to consider reducing the cost of the home to cover the repair fees. Even small foundation issues can turn into big ones over time, so identifying and fixing all foundation issues is important, no matter how old the home is.
How much will it cost to fix my foundation?
If you live in Kansas City or Moberly versus Springfield or St. Louis, the cost of fixing your home’s foundation may vary. That’s because whether your home is in an urban, rural, or other area can impact the repair costs. What types of repairs are needed and how severe the damage is will also impact the overall cost of foundation repairs.
Nationwide, the average cost to repair a home’s foundation, according to Inch Calculator, is $3,500. More advanced repairs average upward of $10,000 across the country. In cities, however; the cost for homeowners can be much higher — from $50,595 in Washington, D.C., to $14,500 in Denver, CO. The biggest differences, however, will come from the severity of the issue and what types of repairs are needed to fix the damage.
What to do if you suspect your home’s foundation is damaged
If you identify one or more of the most common indicators of foundation damage — from mold growth and unexplained water damage to tilting chimneys and bowing walls — the first thing you should do is schedule a free foundation inspection to identify the severity of the issue.
Headquartered in Missouri, Foundation Recovery Systems offers free assessments and repair estimates to help you better understand the issues and potential solutions. Don’t let a foundation repair issue impact the health of your home and family — you can help protect your most valuable investment with a free inspection today.