Spring is a great time to prepare your house for April showers and May flowers. Following these six simple steps will help you maintain the safety, comfort and value of your home.
Virginia Beach, VA - March 3, 2015
Is Your Home’s Foundation Ready for Spring?
By Jesse Waltz, P.E., Owner & President of JES Foundation Repair
As you bid winter a long-awaited farewell, it’s an ideal time to turn your attention to preparing your house for spring—starting with the foundation. The winter soil shrinkage has passed, and soil expansion from spring showers has not yet occurred. Weather conditions and normal wear and tear can be an unforgiving combination. Following these six simple steps will help you maintain the safety, comfort and value of your home. All you need is a sheet of graph paper and a pencil.
1. Draw Your Home’s Footprint. Make a basic sketch of the outline of your house. Clearly label doors and windows.
2. Inspect Your Doors and Windows. Look out for doors and windows that are out of square, have cracks extending from the corners or are separating from the framing or exterior finish. Open and close your doors and windows to determine whether they are operating properly. Record your observations.
3. Check Your Floor. Walk through your home and record any abrupt changes in the floor, such as cracks, sudden drop-offs or rises. Are the floors sagging and separating? Is there a gap between the floor and the wall? Make note of problem areas in your drawing.
4. Check Your Walls and Ceilings for Cracks. Drywall cracks are a common indicator of settlement and may be more obvious on the upper levels of the house. Look for drywall cracks expanding diagonally from the corners of doors and windows, cracks that follow drywall seams and drywall tape buckling, pulling or ripping. Note the direction, width and severity of the cracks and include them in your blueprint.
5. Check Your Interior Foundation Walls. It is important to search for cracks in the interior of your foundation or crawl space walls. Cracks that form stair-step like patterns are commonly found in foundation walls built from concrete block. Because they often serve as entryways for pests and water, cracks (of any size) should be monitored and repaired as necessary to avoid major structural damage.
6. Inspect the Exterior of Your House. Finally, walk around the outside of your house and look for shifting, sinking or other signs of movement, especially around chimneys and patios. Most chimneys are built on a foundation that’s not connected to the house; these structures are at greater risk for settlement and may separate away from the house. In brick homes, stair-step cracking can mean you have a foundation settlement problem. Be sure to document your findings in the drawing.
After performing your inspection, you should contact a reputable contractor who specializes in structural repairs to evaluate your areas of concern. A professional opinion can offer you the security of knowing what repairs, if any, are needed. When foundation problems are left untreated, not only does your house become a safety hazard, but its value decreases as well. Address possible damage before it gets worse. There’s no better time than now to spring into action!