Diagnosing a sinking foundation in Utah can be a bit tricky. At, Interwest Foundation Piering we see these problems each day and have become familiar with the signs a home gives when it is under stress from settlement. We have put together a short list of the 5 most common signs you may see if your foundation is sinking.
When a foundation sinks it can cause cracks to form in the sheetrock. Most cracks will form on or near the outside walls or in the ceiling. While it can be normal for cracks to form in sheetrock, you want to watch for cracks that get larger over time or keep coming back after having been repaired. If you are trying to diagnose a home for settlement, stay away from patching cracks with flexible materials such a caulking. Doing so will allow the crack to become larger without being detected. Because we have changing seasons in Utah, cracks that open and close may not be settlement, but rather expansion and contraction from temperature changes.
Not the best indicator for a sinking foundation, but worth mentioning are cracks in stucco. Stucco can crack for multiple reasons so look specifically for cracks at the corners of windows and doors. To use stucco cracks as an indicator you will want to compare those crack with some of the other signs we are talking about, almost as a verifying factor.
Probably the most obvious and easy way to diagnose a settling home is through stair-stepping cracks in the brick and mortar. Because brick and mortar is a ridged material it tends to be the first place a sinking foundation will manifest. In Utah we have a variety of external building materials that are less telling like siding, but even stucco can crack with a sinking foundation.
A great way to help diagnose a sinking foundation is by testing the doors and windows in the home. When a home settles it becomes uneven. This can change the structure of the home and can cause the doors and windows to become out of square, resulting in binding and sticking. Like sheetrock, doors and windows can be a bit sensitive to Utah’s changing climate so try to remember or notice if the door or window has the same problem year round.
In severe cases, sinking foundations can result in uneven floors. While a little hard to detect you may actually feel this as you are walking. If you have a hard surface, grab a ball or marble and see if it rolls to one side or the other. We use a special leveling tool to determine if a floor is out of level. If you feel that your home is sinking, one of our Foundation Repair experts would be happy to check the floor for level.
A sinking foundation isn’t always easy to diagnose, but hopefully these signs can help you narrow it down. If you would like an in depth consultation you can contact our office directly.