shifting house

Shifting Foundation? Discover the 5 Signs of Foundation Damage

In Residential Blog Posts by John Topa

A shifting foundation is the last thing that most homeowners in Florida want to deal with. However, failure to repair the problem can lead to a variety of other issues. While some states in the US are subjected to ice and snow, Florida is adversely affected by subtropical weather conditions. Temperatures in Florida average about 90 degrees with extensive flooding from tropical downpours combined with periods of droughts. Because of this, many residential structures in Florida get shifted due to home foundation settlement.

What Causes a Shifting Foundation?

Home foundation settlement is caused by several things such as improper soil compaction, plumbing leaks, inadequate drainage, weather, and sinkholes. Since the geographical composition of the ground in Florida is built on top of water tables, it is paramount to have an expert soil remediation company conduct a pre-construction soil test and make the necessary load-bearing improvements before new concrete slabs can be poured. Knowing the signs of when your house has shifted can save thousands of dollars on unnecessary repairs.

Improper soil construction and compaction coupled by neglecting to install deep foundations are why most residential homes end up shifting. Fortunately, foundation damage and problems can be quickly resolved by utilizing a variety of repair techniques. A shifting house can create:

  • Structural damage
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Ceiling, wall, and floor cracks
  • Improper door and window operation
  • Separated electrical wires
  • Raised floors
  • Uneven countertops

It always more cost-effective to repair your foundation before it leads to these other problems becoming an unexpected and significant expense. To help you discover the signs of foundation damage, we have compiled a list of the five most common signs of foundation damage here in Florida.

5 Signs Your Florida Home Has Foundation Damage

shifting foundation
1. Floor and Wall Cracks

Since most homes constructed in Florida are built on concrete slabs, seeing the signs of viable cracks may require removing the flooring material. However, there are obvious signs such as dips or humps on your floor or raised ceramic tiles can be another good indicator of foundation damage. If you have wall fissures coupled by floor cracks, this could mean trouble.

This is because your house has been experiencing movement, which can be caused by a variety of factors. While contracting and expanding soils can be part of the issue, inclement weather in Florida is oftentimes the culprit. Normal settlement is expected within the first 2-3 years after construction and so are 1/16” horizontal hairline cracks, but larger horizontal fissures measuring 1/4” or more can spell serious concern.

Horizontal cracks are considered by concrete repair experts as being more critical than vertical fissures because it is a sign that your home’s perimeter foundation is currently experiencing tremendous stress. Vertical cracks are still concerning, but they do not pose the same risk as horizontal cracks do because dry walls generally run in the same direction. Whenever you see 1/4” cracks or larger gaps in your concrete foundation, you should immediately consult with a soil remediation expert for proper foundation repair.

Although general concrete contractors do amazing work, home foundation repairs involving in-situ soils are typically beyond their skill set; therefore, soil remediation companies are the ones with the grouting equipment and knowledge to raise damaged and sunken sections of concrete back to its original plane. In most cases of large cracked and sunken concrete slabs, deep foundations involving helical piers and other piling applications are used as a permanent stabilization solution for residential home foundations in many locations such as Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, and Naples. Once this procedure is complete, your foundation should last a lifetime.

2. Foundation Sinking or Settling

When gaps are caused by foundation settlement, they are usually vertical in nature. Therefore, when inspection your home foundation, store this in your memory bank: what starts out as a small dip in your concrete floor can grow to be a much bigger problem. It gets worse, the longer you do nothing about it, it is not uncommon for large sections of concrete slabs to get swallowed up by the ground beneath it.

To avoid such safety issues, when excessive settlement is first noticeable, your best course of action is to contact a foundation repair specialist, this minimizes the costs and danger associated with foundation sinking or settling.

3. Improper Window and Door Operation

An excellent sign of foundation damage is the improper operation of windows and doors. Exterior doors generally drag or stick at the top, an indicator of an uneven foundation while interior doors are notorious for sticking against the vertical jam. Windows will start to open and close hard, and in some cases, will not open at all. On the other hand, Florida is known for its humidity, and sometimes this can be the cause. If you step outside and see foundation cracks under windows and doors, there is a good chance that your improper window and door operation is due to foundation settlement.

4. Interior Drywall Cracks

Drywall or Gypsum Wallboard as it is known in the construction industry can experience normal hairline cracks in wall and ceiling corners, vertical and horizontal seams, and along the outside corner bead. This is to be expected with normal settlement with the first few years of construction. On the other hand, the drywall cracks that are the most alarming are the ones that appear irregular and jagged. If you see drywall cracks such as these with significant gaps, it is a sign of an excessive shifting foundation.

5. Uneven Countertops & Separated Wall Cabinets

When countertops become uneven, this can be a sign of foundation damage, especially when countertop seams or tiles rise above adjacent sections or pieces. You may notice this around your sink area and look on top of the backsplash to see if it is pulling away from the wall. Wall cabinets can also pull away from the wall or the doors will start to look crooked when a foundation is experiencing foundation settlement. If this is happening in your home and getting worse, you should seek an immediate inspection of your foundation.

What is the Best Way to Deal with Foundation Damage?

When it comes to a shifting foundation that has signs of foundation damage in Florida, the first step is to contact a soil remediation company for proper foundation repair. Since most settlement issues are soil-related, it is necessary to hire the right business for the job. Soil remediation companies such as we can assess your current foundation problem and offer you the best cost-effective solution.