If are buying an older home or if you have inherited an older family home, there can be problems with them. In particular, if they have been left unattended for a long period of time. One of the biggest concerns for older homes is the foundation. This is what is keeping the entire home in place. If there are structural problems with the foundation, it will affect the entire house.
Common Foundation Problems in Older Homes
Besides problems with plumbing and wiring, older homes can have some serious foundation problems.
Take a good look at the foundation for cracks. Small cracks are fairly common and would be so in an older home. But large, deep cracks can be an indication there is a bigger problem.
Small cracks can occur when the house settles, from the cold and heat causing the cement to expand and shrink, or moisture in the soil. Having them filled in is a good idea but the problem may be bigger than what you may think.
Check all areas for cracks, inside and out. Check the stairs leading up to the house, cracks in the walls, floors and ceiling in the basement, cracks or shifting bricks in the fireplace and chimney,
If there are noticeable dips, pockets, or areas of the floors sagging, there could be a serious problem. Check underneath for the support beams and make sure there is no stress or warping with them.
Sagging or dips in the floor are one of the best indications there could be a concern with the foundation. It can also be caused by something heavy sitting in the same place for a long period of time, like a heavy appliance, from moisture or just the beans and floorboards wearing out. That’s why you need to check underneath, to make sure it isn’t the foundation.
Gaps in Window and Door Frames
When the foundation slips or sinks on one side, it will cause the door and window frames to pull away. Check over the doors and window, along the sides, and underneath for large gaps that may have occurred.
Also, if doors don’t close properly, fit into the frame, swing-open, or hang on a tilt, this could be a problem. The same for the windows, if they don’t work properly like they don’t slide easily or are stuck, then it could be a sign there is a bigger problem.
If there is more than one level to the home, check the staircases. Look for uneven stairs, gaps, sagging, and areas where they may have pulled away from the wall. Old wooden stairs can get worn down and shift, but large gaps or sloping stairs could be an indication there is damage to the foundation.
Damp and Leaks
Check for damp areas on the walls, the ceiling, the floors, and particularly in the basement. Even if there are no visible cracks or damage, there could be some damage behind it.
Check in crawl spaces for damp and damage, as well. There could be cracks, gaps, or wet areas that have gone unnoticed. Be sure to check the underneath part of the stairs, if possible.
Call an Expert
Before you buy, have the home checked out by a foundation contractor. They will be able to tell you if there are foundation problems that you need to be concerned about.
They can also recommend repairs and whether it is worth buying the home. Call the experts at Olson Foundation Repair to make sure the foundation is safe.