What Might Happen If You Don't Repair Your Home's Foundation Problems

January 29, 2021

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If you’re a homeowner wondering what happens if you leave foundation damages unrepaired, it’s vital that you discuss any signs of damage with a foundation repair contractor when needed. As with many needed repairs around the home, ignoring foundation damage will only lead to more costly fixes down the road!

To ensure you’re always keeping your home or commercial structure in good condition and avoid otherwise unnecessary repair bills, check out some information about foundation cracks and when it’s time to schedule repairs. It’s also good to note what often causes foundation damage and a few tips for avoiding damage, to help keep your home or commercial structure in good repair over the years.

What Happens If You Don’t Fix Foundation Problems?

Before you decide to go another month or, worse yet, a full year without needed foundation repairs, check out what happens if you don’t fix foundation problems. While some of these are “worst-case scenarios,” they are also very real risks for a homeowner or commercial property owner, so don’t dismiss these when it comes to your structure!

1. Foundation Damage Gets WORSE Over Time!

As with most other home improvement projects, foundation damage only gets worse over time! Small cracks tend to spread, leading to outright holes in a foundation. You might even see sections crack and then fall away from the foundation, or areas spall and crumble. The more extensive these fixes, the costlier your eventual repairs.

The longer you ignore needed foundation fixes, the more likely it is that you will eventually require house leveling or slab jacking. This process injects a concrete slurry underneath a damaged foundation; as that slurry dries, it “jacks up” the structure, putting it back to a level and even position.

2. Foundation Cracks Let Water into Your Home

A structure’s foundation should protect it from outside moisture and humidity. Foundation cracks, fissures, and other openings let in water, risking damaged interior basement concrete, water-stained and damaged drywall and flooring, and mildewed or otherwise damaged home appliances and stored items.

Excess moisture along a home’s crawl space or in the basement also risks wood rot, leading to structural instability. Water and damp building materials increase the risk of mold growth in the home, and can even attract insects and other pests! Rodents and insects search out water sources as well as food sources, so you can keep your home scrupulously clean but still experience unpleasant infestations when you overlook foundation damage.

3. Foundation Damage Means Structural Instability

A structure’s foundation is meant to keep that home or commercial building level and even. When a foundation weakens and especially to the point of cracking or chipping, it can’t provide that same support. In turn, your structure might start to settle or sink along one side or the other.

As a structure settles and shifts, it pulls on building materials and surfaces. You might then notice interior and exterior wall cracks, buckled floors, and roof damage including torn shingles and cracked tiles, or roof materials “popping” away from underlying decking. A chimney stack can also crack and even outright collapse.

A setting structure also pulls on plumbing pipes and connectors. This can pull pipes out of proper alignment so that water flows too quickly and solid waste builds up, forming clogs. Pressure on plumbing fixtures can also lead to cracks or damaged connectors and resultant water leaks. These leaks also risk mold growth behind walls and clogged pipes!

4. Expect Utility Costs to Sky Rocket!

All those cracks in a foundation, and resultant cracks in walls and other surfaces, let out your heated and cooled air throughout the year, while also letting in heat, cold drafts, and humidity! Your home’s heating and cooling system, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, air filters, and other appliances might cycle on more often in order to offset all those outside elements and to keep interior spaces comfortable.

Even if your HVAC unit cycles on more often, you might still notice uneven heating and cooling and very uncomfortable interior spaces, as heat, humidity, and cold air might get trapped in one area of your home or commercial structure. For example, damp basements are not uncommon in a home with foundation damage, even if the rest of the home doesn’t feel overly humid and uncomfortable.

5. Costly Damage Can Impact Your Property Value

Small cracks and other quick fixes might not affect property values but larger cracks and chips, and lots of interior and exterior wall cracks and other secondary damage, can mean seeing a significant drop in your property’s worth! Some buyers might even be hesitant about buying a property that’s had extensive repairs, so the longer you wait to address foundation damage, the higher the risk of decreased property values.

6. Extensive Repairs Can Mean More Disruption to the Structure

A foundation repair contractor can often fix small cracks and chips without disrupting soil around a home’s foundation; however, the more extensive your needed repairs, the more likely it is that your contractor will need to dig up soil and otherwise disrupt your property.

While most foundation repair contractors endeavor to restore soil and landscaping features after foundation repairs are complete, they might not be able to replant and replace every shrub and flower, and some vegetation might not thrive after such a disruption. To protect your lawn, landscaping, and property in general, it’s best to address foundation damage quickly.

Should I Worry About Foundation Cracks?

Concrete develops cracks naturally as it absorbs moisture and expands, and then dries out and contracts. Minor concrete settling is also normal and can result in hairline cracks, which don’t always need repairing and might not signal serious damage.

To ensure you don’t overlook needed foundation repair, monitor cracks and especially those running along corners of the foundation or concrete block bed joints, meaning the concrete mortar sitting underneath those blocks. Measure any cracks you notice and recheck them every month or so; if they’re spreading or getting larger, it’s probably time to call a foundation repair contractor!

home foundation inspection

It’s also time to consider concrete foundation repairs for cracks over 1/2” wide and any crack or chip in which you can insert a coin. These cracks might not seem significant to you but they can signal foundation weakness and damage that needs addressing.

How Do I Know If My Foundation Needs Repair?

Foundation cracks are the most obvious sign of damage, but not the only time to call a foundation repair contractor! Check out some other indicators that your structure’s foundation is weak or damaged and in need of repairs:

  • Don’t simply patch over interior and exterior wall and ceiling cracks but schedule a foundation inspection if you notice this damage around your property.
  • As a structure settles and shifts, this pulls door jambs and window frames out of shape. In turn, doors and windows might stick, and doors swing open on their own.
  • If you notice a sudden spike in utility costs and especially if interior spaces are still hot and stuffy or cold and drafty, this can indicate cracks resulting from foundation damage.
  • Foundation cracks often lead to damp basements and even standing water along basement floors.
  • As structures settle and shift, interior surfaces also tend to dip to one side or another. If you notice items sliding along shelves, pictures falling out of alignment, or items like children’s toy cars and balls rolling on floors by themselves, it might be time for foundation repair!
  • Buckled floors and roofs are also common on properties with foundation damage.
  • When a home settles, walls pull away from each other. You might then notice gaps in corners of rooms where walls meet, or see baseboards and crown molding pop away from the walls, floors, or ceilings.
  • If your home or commercial structure is always suffering plumbing clogs and leaks, schedule a foundation inspection.
  • As basement concrete absorbs moisture due to foundation cracks, its walls might bow outward or begin to crumble. You might also notice spalling, or white flakes from damaged and dried concrete, along basement floors and walls.

Can a House Collapse From Foundation Issues?

A house is not likely to collapse from foundation issues, as homes are designed and built to withstand storms, mild earthquakes, and other such disasters. However, in extreme cases, interior ceilings might crack and sections fall away, beams such as across doorways might also crack and collapse, and basement walls might crumble. Plumbing pipes might also pull away from connectors completely, leading to floods and water damage.

While a home might not collapse, those crumbling interior walls and framing can result in serious injury to anyone in the vicinity. Flooding around live wires also risks electric shock, while mold growth resulting from water damage is also very unhealthy! To ensure your health and safety, schedule needed foundation repairs at the first sign of damage.

Do Most Older Homes Have Foundation Problems?

While foundations are more likely to suffer weakness and damage the older they get, whether or not an older home has foundation problems depends on its owner! Patching small cracks as they appear, waterproofing the foundation or basement, encapsulating a crawl space, and ensuring proper drainage all help keep a foundation in good repair. Rather than assuming an older home has foundation damage, schedule an inspection if you’re considering purchasing the home or have already moved in!

Are Foundation Repairs Worth It?

If you leave foundation damage unrepaired, it’s likely that your home will suffer secondary damage as times goes on. The most common secondary damage you might notice includes interior and exterior cracks and water seeping into the home. As with foundation damage itself, these secondary issues will also get worse over time, and you’re soon likely to notice roof damage, mold growth, and wood rot.

In most cases, foundation damage repair costs are far less expensive than repeatedly patching wall and ceiling cracks, cleaning mold growth, and repairing damaged wood framing and roof materials. If that foundation damage becomes severe, your home might also become very uncomfortable as your HVAC system won’t be able to compensate for leaks and trapped humidity, and the house might even become unsafe!

Rather than having to face all these secondary fixes, invest in foundation repair at the first sign of damage. Your home will then be in good condition, safe for occupation, and comfortable for you and your family.

What Causes Foundation Damage?

The Primary Culprit? MOISTURE!

Along with aging and standard wear and tear, excess moisture is one common cause of foundation damage. As water pools around a home’s foundation, concrete absorbs that moisture and then weakens, leading to cracks and chips. To avoid excess moisture on your property, ensure it’s graded properly, or sloped slightly away from the home. A landscape engineer can check its grade and moisture levels in the soil. You also need to ensure gutters are clean and clog-free, to keep rainwater from washing over their sides.

Excess moisture might also require a sump pump or French drain installation, to trap water in the home’s basement or that’s collecting around the foundation and direct it elsewhere. Sump pumps also protect the home from water damage even during a flood, burst pipe, broken water heater, and other such disasters!

Extra Precautions to Take Against Foundation Damages

  • Waterproofing: Even with these additions, consider foundation and basement waterproofing or crawlspace encapsulation. A waterproofing membrane or other coating helps repel water and excess moisture, keeping concrete dry while also protecting against wood rot, mold, and insect infestation.
  • Receive an Expert Opinion FIRST: Adding to a home’s weight significantly without strengthening the foundation also leads to cracks and premature damage. If you’re considering adding another story or sunroom, or heavy materials such as stone floors, check with a structural engineer or foundation contractor first, so you can strengthen the foundation as needed.
  • Regular foundation inspections are also an excellent investment for avoiding foundation damage. A foundation inspector can note signs of developing damage and if the foundation needs repairs, or if cracks are only minor and not at risk of growing. Scheduling those needed repairs before they get more extensive is far cheaper than having to fix major cracks along the property and pay for mold cleanup, so consider regular foundation inspections for your home.

A Word From Our Foundation Repair Contractors

Lexington Foundation Repair Experts is happy to bring this information to our readers and we hope it answered the question of what happens if you leave foundation damages unrepaired. If you still have questions about needed foundation repair or would like to schedule a foundation inspection for a Lexington home or business, give us a call! We offer over 20 years of foundation repair experience and guarantee all our work to last.

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