Posts Categorized: Cause of Foundation Problems

Reading the Signs of Foundation Issues (2/4)

Now that you have a basic knowledge of foundations in Part 1 of this series, and the basic causes of foundation issues, it’s time to learn more about the signs indicating that you may have a problem with your home’s foundation.

When it comes to your foundation, do you know what’s worth noticing? This series discusses foundation issues you should watch out for, explains how to evaluate them and, ultimately, can help you determine if it’s time to take action and begin the foundation repair process. Once you decide it’s time to take action, discover how to find and consult with a foundation repair expert near you. 

Most people think “foundation issues” when they see a crack in drywall. However, experts explain that there’s more than one type, as cracks may simply be a cosmetic issue, rather than a foundation issue.

Assessing Cosmetic vs. Structural Foundation Damage

Visible drywall cracks, most commonly referred to as hairline cracks, don’t necessarily indicate a serious problem. These may also occur seasonally and are commonly referred to by experts as “seasonal settlement cracks,” which is a cosmetic issue.

However, foundation problems are a structural issue – which means they can really mess up the structure of your home if not taken care of properly. So, one’s a bigger concern over than the other, even though you may think both look bad. Cosmetic issues are a much easier fix and one hairline crack won’t necessarily indicate you have a foundation problem with your home.

Help, I See a Crack! What Kind is it – Cosmetic or Structural?

One helpful tip recommended by a foundation consultant with Stratum Foundation Repair, a Texas-based foundation repair company, is to determine whether a crack is cosmetic or structural. This expert recommends performing a “quarter test” on cracks to help determine whether or not a foundation may need repair.

How to perform the “quarter test” on a crack in your home: when you see a crack, if you can take an edge of a quarter and stick it inside the crack, it’s probably something that needs to be investigated further by an expert. If that crack is opening up, it means things (aka the bones of your home) are pulling apart.

While any noticeable crack is a cosmetic issue in itself, a structural issue stems from things pulling apart. If it comes out too far, parts are no longer connected, which is obviously a bad thing.

If you see a crack that’s smaller or what’s commonly referred to as a hairline crack, then they’re most likely seasonal movement cracks. As long as the crack isn’t widening or separating, there’s not as much cause for concern.

The signs associated with foundation damage usually occur in tandem, with more than one at a time. It’s usually unlikely that a bunch of different signs or cracks don’t have separate causes.

That means it’s not enough to have just one crack to correctly assume it’s a foundation issue. When the foundation moves, it’s causing many pieces of the foundation to move. Experts look to find a concentration of cracks and breaks, along with evaluating other areas of the home for common signs indicating foundation problems.

Basically, foundation consultants typically look anywhere where there’s a joining of two materials because those are weak spots: brick meets window, trim meets window, ceiling meets wall, etc.

6 most common signs of foundation issues include:

  1. Water bill inconsistencies:  If your water bill shoots up suddenly, it may indicate a foundation issue related to a plumbing leak.
  2. Odors: A foul order coming from soil near house is another warning sign of foundation problems.
  3. Cracks: This is the most common issue homeowners notice. Signs of foundation issues in relation to cracks include several cracks popping up on walls, near ceilings above doors and in corners.
  4. Doors and door frames: If you begin to notice that doors are not opening or shutting properly or are not matching to the frame properly as it once did, this is another foundation issue indication.
  5. Separation of freeze boards (the jointed trim near the roofline and on the corners of the home): When you are able to see a separation in this area, it often signifies that the foundation is moving. Experts look for separation higher up, which is easier to spot.
  6. Expansion joints (the lines in between bricks that look like caulking): Expansion joints exist to help combat the issue of moving bricks, since bricks typically don’t allow any sort of movement. But, when there’s an issue, you can see displacement, usually near the top of the wall.

Remember, if at any point there’s a concern that your home may have foundation issues, it’s important to act immediately. If you believe you may have a foundation issue after evaluating your home for these common signs, it’s time to consult a foundation expert.

Companies, like our Texas-based Stratum Foundation Repair, offer free foundation inspections to get to the bottom of the issue. Our foundation repair company will help you resolve whether or not there’s an issue and, if so, what you can do to resolve it.  We’ll also help you assess both the current problem and also create a plan that helps combat any future foundation issues from occurring.

Now that you’re able to better determine whether or not you may have a foundation issue, we’ll next dive into the foundation repair process so you’ll get a better understand of what to expect. Go here to read Part 3 in the series.

Ask The Expert Series 1: Foundation Basics & Problem Causes (1/4)

It’s common for homeowners to notice things they believe to be signs of foundation problems. This series encompasses everything you need to know about your home’s foundation: starting with a basic understanding of what a foundation is below. This is Part 1 of 4 in an ongoing blog series that was developed from an interview with one of our foundation consultants. To listen to the full interview, please find the audio here.

Let’s start with the basics and give you a foundation of knowledge on, well, foundations!

Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t even think about their home’s foundation until a problem arises that needs repair. And, while many of these issues can be repaired, there are also things you can do to prevent them from happening in the first place.

First, let’s look into foundation repair and what causes foundation problems to begin with. Thanks to the help of a foundation repair expert from Stratum Foundation Repair based in Dallas, Texas, here’s all the information you need to understand the basics. This will help you understand the issues that arise and how to best avoid them from happening at all.

Concrete Slab Foundation Basics

The key to understanding your home’s foundation is right underneath it. The earth under your home is what it sits upon, and it’s also what usually impacts the changes – and sometimes, issues – that occur.

Most people don’t give the ground underneath their homes a second thought. But, it’s that very ground, and its contained moisture, that can give you a run for your money in foundation repair.

Understanding the Root of the Problem

For example, consider a home within the Dallas area – one of the highest areas in need of foundation repair. Why? Clay. The earth in this area is most commonly comprised of clay. This especially impacts the movement of a foundation because clay expands. Think of it as a sponge – it contracts when dry, expands when wet. Couple that with dry weather patterns; like a drought, or over-watering and you can easily imagine why this area is ripe with foundation inconsistencies.

You may be thinking, if all of the land is clay, and there’s a drought, wouldn’t logic follow that the clay underneath the foundation simply contracts? This assumption is incorrect, because foundations are impacted by any inconsistencies within the earth and, unfortunately, can happen both naturally and unnaturally (as in, we’re doing things to the soil, like watering in certain areas, that can make it worse).

For example, something as simple as a tree can lead to inconsistencies. If one side of the home with a tree is being watered daily, the clay expands on that side of the home. If the tree isn’t being watered daily, it pulls a great deal of moisture out from the soil (trees can drink up to 100 gallons of water daily), causing it to contract. Meanwhile, the other side of the home, without a tree, gets less water and contracts if the tree is being watered. Or, perhaps, contains more moisture than the side the tree is pulling moisture from.

Common Causes of Foundation Issues

While there are many different causes and cases that cause foundation issues, the most important take away is that when these factors become inconsistent, it can lead to an uneven foundation.

The mere expansion & contraction isn’t necessarily the problem, it’s the inconsistent swelling and contraction under the house.

For example, serious foundation issues often occur when the perimeter of the foundation dries out and the interior doesn’t – most commonly in summer months. This is most likely an issue that leads to the foundation moves first and the structure second. Think: the right side may be swelling while the other is contracting, leading to uneven foundation differences. Since clay moves so much, you want to implement a foundation that moves with it.

While the foundation itself is meant to move and flex, the structure on top of it and plumbing within it is not meant to move – especially inconsistently. Within areas that have clay, most homes are built on a concrete slab, so due to weather, settling, tree roots depleting moisture/droughts, and other variables, people need foundation repair. 

These inconsistencies can cause different types of issues, some of which are more common than others.

4 Warning Signs of Foundation Issues:

  1. Noticeable cracks
  2. Roof/Trim issues
  3. Plumbing damage (often signified by odor)
  4. Structural damage

If at any point there’s a concern that you may have foundation issue in your home, you should never hesitate to call an expert. Many companies offer free foundation inspections allow experts to get to the bottom of it, whether there’s a problem or not. They want to ensure you correct the current problem and create a plan for the avoidance of future issues. This is the case with Stratum, and you can call us to give you a thorough and FREE inspection by calling us today.  214-683-2956

At the end of the day, if you have a foundation issue, it’s nothing to be lax about. Your entire house is shifting, and it won’t correct itself. Experts need to assess the damage and create a plan for both repair and a longer-term plan to avoid further damage; they will also navigate issues, like gas lines, etc.

You also want to ensure that it’s a long-term solution and that it’s done correctly from the beginning, so work with your foundation expert at Stratum to create a plan to both correct the current problem and avoid future issues from arising.

Now that you have the basic knowledge, you’ll be able to better understand how to determine if there’s a potential foundation issue with your home. Read on to discover the warning signs of foundation problems in our second post in the series, along with ways you can start to determine whether or not you may have a foundation issue. Call us today: 214-683-2956

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Dallas Homeowners are at Risk for Foundation Issues!

Are you at risk for foundation issues based on where you live? The soil in Dallas county is primarily of the Houston Black-Heiden-Wilson composure. This means that the soil is primarily of the clay rock formation. The soil is commonly exposed to extreme wetting and drying cycles which accenutates the shrinking and swelling effect. Dallas soil are some of the most expansive of soils and may gain or lose up to 75% of its origninal soil volume, causing profound gain and loss of a structures foundation.


The soil in Dallas, TX is typically dried and cracked, placing a risk on all homes built in the area. When the soil expands and cracks it allows water to travel along the cracks and accumulate at the bottom of your homes foundation. Accumulation of water at the base of a foundation can cause the soil to lose some of its load bearing capacity. If enough load bearing capacity is lost the house will descend into the soil. The home submerging into the soil will cause foundation issues as well as cosmetic issues. You will begin to see cracks in your drywall and bricks, doors will no longer close properly and much more.

Expansive soils are one of the nation’s leading causes for foundation issues to homes and buildings. In addition to your foundation sinking there is a rare occasion where the foundation will “Upheave”. This is where external areas around the foundation will rise above the “original elevations”. Upheaving causes the reinforcing steel used in the foundation to bend and stress into what amounts to permanent elongation.

Stratum Foundation Repair is the expert when it comes to foundation repair in the Dallas area. We offer a free consultation to evaluate your homes current health. We work with some of the best Engineers in Dallas who will evaluate your homes current conditions before and after repairs to ensure proper lifting was achieved.

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