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Signs of Foundation Settlement Outside of Your Home

Here are some common signs found typically on the outside of your home that might indicate that your foundation is settling:

Stair-step cracking is often a tell-tale sign of foundation settlement and is very common in brick and concrete block walls. As your home continues to settle further, vertical cracks may widen, indicating that the wall is rotating outward.

One of the more scary and dramatic signs of settlement is a chimney separating away from the rest of the home. Sometimes chimneys are built on a foundation that is not connected to the rest of the home, making it even more at risk of settlement.

Clues from Doors and Windows
Whenever an opening is cut or created in a wall, such as a door or window, it becomes the weakest point of the wall. Because of this, doors and windows often display the first signs of settlement. Three common observations include:

  1. Doors and windows out of square
  2. Cracks extending from the corners of doors or windows, and
  3. The separation of a door or window from the framing or exterior.

Side Note: You and your neighbor share soil. If your neighbor is experiencing problems, chances are you will too.

Signs of Foundation Settling Inside of Your Home

Many of the signs you can see on the outside of your home are similar to the ones inside your basement. Stair-step cracks, for example, maybe seen in a basement built from concrete block. In a basement constructed of poured foundation walls, vertical cracks are more common. Cracks in your concrete floor slab can signal foundation settlement, but may also be a sign that the slab alone has settled.

Be careful not to assume that a crack in your foundation is merely a shrinkage crack. Shrinkage cracks tend to be very small, “hairline” cracks (usually 1/16″ wide or less). They generally occur near the center of a span and maintain a consistent width for the length of the crack.

Drywall Cracks
Cracks in drywall throughout the house are a good indicator of settlement and maybe more obvious in the uppermost levels of your home. Common signs are drywall cracks off of the corners of doors and windows, cracks that follow drywall seam, drywall tape buckling or ripping

Doors and Windows
Again, observing what is happening around doors and windows is important. Put a level across the top of the door or window frame, is it level? Do any of the doors or windows ‘stick’ when trying to open or close them? Have you had to move or replace locking or latching mechanisms on doors? Is there evidence that a previous homeowner has done this? If you answered YES to any of these questions, chances are, you have a foundation settlement problem!

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