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Typical Warning Signs

Most of the time, the signs of home foundation problems are fairly apparent.

Interior Warning Signs:

  • Walls are cracked.
  • Door and ceiling moldings are misaligned.
  • Windows and doors are misaligned and stick or will not open.
  • Floors out of level or cracking.
  • Basement walls are leaking, cracked, displaced, or rotating.

Exterior Warning Signs:

  • Brick or cinder block is cracked.
  • Foundation is cracked.
  • Gaps around windows and doors.

Monitoring Foundation Cracks

Looking at the patterns of a foundation crack can be informative.  When studying walls, in general, vertical cracks are less likely to be structural in nature whereas horizontal and tailing or step down cracks can be signs of structural failure.

It is not uncommon to see cracks in walls and foundations.  Often, however, these cracks are dormant and were caused during the initial settling of the structure after it was built.

One way to determine if your home foundation is sinking or moving is to measure and mark the cracks in your foundation and walls. 

Tailing or Step Down Crack

A tailing or step down crack can be indicative of a structural failure.  This is not necessarily a dangerous situation and the crack may in fact be dormant.  The size and severity of the crack also has to be considered.  If you have been monitoring a crack and it appears to be getting worse, you may want to call a professional in to render an opinion.  Often, structural engineers are your best resource.

Is Your Crack Active or Dormant?

Measuring Foundation CracksThe Measure Method: Measure the crack and mark your measurement on each side of a crack.  One way to determine if a wall is still moving or settling to measure the crack.  The photo to the left provides a very basic way to mark and measure a crack.  You can monitor the crack simply by continuing to measure it a regular intervals.

The Compound Method: Take plaster or joint compound and fill the crack.  You want a good test subject, so make certain that when the compound dries thoroughly there are no cracks or separations in the compound.    Then monitor the crack at regular intervals and note whether cracks appear in or around the compound you applied.  If cracks appear, that may be indicative that your wall is still moving.




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Need help finding a home remodeling contractor in your local area?  We have a directory list of general residential contractors and residential designers for home projects. You can find someone to design, remodel, or replace just about anything in your house. It does not matter if it is a small renovation project, an item that needs to be fixed or repaired, an installation job, or build a major addition to your property.

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