When the foundation of your house starts sinking, you should contact a professional underpinning contractor. This is an urgent matter; it is vital to catch the signs early to get underpinning done.
It isn’t always as obvious as huge holes in the ground that your property needs underpinning. You may need to look for smaller signs, such as gaps around doors and windows.
Cracks on the Walls and Floors
Seeing cracks in your home’s walls and floors can be worrying, but they aren’t always serious. Minor damages result from the house settling and can usually be easily remedied by re-taping the joints between drywall panels. However, if the cracks become wider or longer, they could indicate severe foundation issues that need to be fixed with underpinning.
Doors and windows no longer open or close properly are another warning sign of foundation problems. If you notice that they are starting to stick or not close fully, it’s worth getting a professional to assess the situation.
Subsidence is the most common reason that homes need underpinning.
Roots help anchor a tree and also transport water and nutrients from the soil to other parts of the tree.
Problems arise when roots grow through a house foundation or cause damage to septic and sewer systems. The best way to deal with the problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place by planting trees far enough away, using mulch, and covering bare soil with ground cover plants like grass or flowers.
If you already have surface roots damaging your property, an arborist or tree pruning expert can prune them without fatally wounding the tree. To help keep surface roots from forming, you can lay down a thick layer of mulch to encourage deeper root growth. Repairing compacted soil, which often leads to exposed roots, is also important. You can have the soil aerated, which loosens the dirt and adds organic material, or you can use an air spade around the roots, then fill it back in with compost and topsoil.
It’s a pretty obvious sign that your house needs underpinning if you notice walls are bowing and leaning. This is often caused by subsidence and requires professional surveying to determine the extent of damage. If you notice this problem, getting it checked out immediately is important.
Leaning walls are not only an eyesore but can also pose a safety hazard as they can collapse on people or structures around them. They are also a sign of foundation problems and can lead to other issues with your home, such as water intrusion, leaking pipes, and more.
There are two particular situations where underpinning is not recommended – one, the ground movement that caused the damage has stopped and is unlikely to reoccur, and two, if the rate and final extent of any damage do not threaten stability during the building’s expected lifespan. If this is the case, repairs, and maintenance may be more cost-effective than underpinning your house.
Uneven floors are often a sign of foundation problems. These can be caused by structural issues such as those addressed above or because the joists, beams, and walls are too old and worn to support the weight of a building any longer. Uneven floors can also result from water damage – whether from leaky pipes or intruding groundwater. Too much moisture can cause wooden beams and sub-flooring to warp – leading to uneven floors.
A sagging or uneven floor is often a clear indicator of foundation issues and may require immediate repair. Foundation issues can be expensive and should not be ignored for too long – even if the problem affects only one or two rooms. Moreover, the damage won’t stop at the affected room – it can impact structures on the same property, such as concrete driveways or sidewalks. The sooner you recognize a problem, the easier and cheaper it will be to fix.