#1. Look at the Slabs and Sidewalks: Start your search for foundation problems by checking out sidewalks, the driveway, basement, and patio. These areas experience the same active soil as the home’s foundation. Sidewalks and slabs are spread over a wider horizontal or lateral surface than the foundation and break or crack more easily. If you see evidence of repairs and patching throughout these areas, as well as any of the signs below, then foundation problems are a concern.
#2. Test the Exterior Doors: As you walk inside, open and close any exterior door. Examine around the frame to check for any unevenness or misalignment. Does the door stick? Do all the doors stick? These issues can indicate a foundation problem, like vertical movement, so make a mental or physical note and contact a foundation contractor to come out and look at it.
#3. Check Around Windows and Doors: Another thing to be on the lookout for is diagonal cracking radiating out from window and door frames. Examine those areas for cracking, or signs of recent paint and caulking. Cracking can indicate stress on the openings from a settling or sinking foundation. Foundation problems specific to one area of a house can create diagonal cracks in on that side or area.
#4. Try Interior Doors and Closets: A single interior doors or closet can be troublesome to open and close, or be hung poorly. That’s a small inconvenience, but not usually a huge deal. What you’re looking for is multiple interior doors that are misaligned, have obviously been planed, or don’t fit properly in their frames causing open and shut issues. This is a symptom of a foundation problem like heave.
#5. Investigate Outlets: Another area that telegraphs movement and foundation problems are outlets. Check around electrical outlets for diagonal cracking, especially on exterior walls. Foundation problems, like bowing walls, cause torque on anything rigid like drywall and the drywall is most likely to crack where there’s a hole cut in it.
If you see any of these problems, you can get the foundation checked out, but the more problems that you see, the more likely a foundation is moving. Be sure to get a free estimate from a reputable contractor right away!