Imagine coming home from the grocery store and while you are pulling into the driveway you notice a crack in your home exterior wall. After you put your groceries away, you head back outside to check. The first question that comes to mind is, can a house collapse from foundation issues? The answer is yes, however, it is also not that simple. It can take years to develop a serious foundational issue that would cause your home to collapse. In most cases, if it does, it’s concentrated on a specific area of the home.
Let’s take a look at some ways to notice the beginnings of foundation problems with your home or if it is simple home settling.
What Does It Mean To Have Foundation Issues
Most people will assume that foundation damage or issues are a dangerous aspect of a home. Although there are some inherent risks, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your house will collapse. You can live in a home with foundation issues, but you want to have them checked.
Many people do and often have no idea of any problems. This is simply because these issues can take time to develop.
Unfortunately, when a foundation shifts, it can lead to the following foundation problems:
- Uneven flooring
- Doors and windows are no longer level and becoming jammed
- Interior and exterior walls are cracked
- You will experience mold and water damage and want to be careful if you buy a home with these issues.
Will My House Fall Down
First off, it is not very likely that your house will collapse completely from foundation issues. However, it is possible that a section of your home could have major structural damage, which can lead to the breaking of pipes in your plumbing and possibly electrical issues. Fortunately, some clear indicators will warn you before any major damage occurs. Let’s take a look at those warning signs
- Your home will have cracked walls in the exterior of the house, which is clearly visible on stucco or block
- The windows and doors will stick- resulting in them not opening or closing as easily
- You will notice cracks in the drywall around those door frames and window frames
- Some long cracks or bowing in the basement/crawl space/attic walls
Compare Stucco Cracks vs Structural Cracks
It is always a good idea not to panic when identifying cracks in your exterior walls or foundation. Stucco cracks can be repaired and don’t necessarily mean that your foundation is falling apart as this typically means that your home is settling and shifting.
If you notice a wall crack, be sure to seal it as soon as possible with an elastomeric caulk. The caulk will stop any moisture from getting inside the wall. Also, many people do not realize that the wall, has a metal rebar, and as metal gets wet, it rusts, oxidizes, and expands which makes the issue worse! Sealing the cracks as fast as possible is highly recommended.
Structural cracks are listed in the section above. So, understanding the little messages that your home will communicate to you while settling is an important note. Learning about when your windows or doors start sticking, and observing long cracks in your exterior or interior walls will tell you how your home is settling.
Many structural issues are more common in older homes. This is typically due to a lack of home maintenance. However, this does not say that new construction homes do not have structural problems too!
How Long Will It Take To Make Repairs
The time that it will take to repair any foundation damage depends on the size of the home and the extent of the damage. For the sake of estimating your time needs, here is a list of the top repairs that occur and how long those take:
- Crack repairs – these could take several hours for materials used to dry and take hold.
- Bowing walls – could take several days due to materials needed and the time it takes to fix.
- Piers – take up to a week due to size and complexity.
- Size of the home – a small home foundation is a quicker fix.
- Materials used – pouring new concrete takes a lot of time to dry vs. patching with other materials.
- Amount of damage – sizable damage to the foundation requires a lot more time to fix.
- The time of year – is the ground frozen where you live? Or is it summer and great conditions?
How Much Will It Cost Me To Fix
Foundation damage can cost around $3,500 for small crack foundation repair but can cost as high as $40,000 and beyond if there are major repairs needed. The more expensive repairs typically occur if the basement wall has damage or there is a large crack in the foundation so hiring a residential structural engineer is always a great idea. This costs around $500 or about $100-$200 per hour.
Let’s take a look at the video below to see how we can determine if the damage is just simple house settling or a larger problem with foundation damage.
Other Ideas To Think About
One area that you might want to consider when working on the foundation issues is determining how long will it take for a house to settle? This will allow you peace of mind that any vertical exterior wall cracks could be a result of the house settling and not the house collapsing.
Another area that you might want to consider when working on the foundation issues is how long does a home inspection take? This will allow you to prepare for time and finances. Having a full home inspection will give you information about how bad your house foundation damage might be and what you can do to fix the damage.
If your home has vinyl siding, make sure you are maintaining it. Vinyl siding lasts about 20-40 years, and you can keep it clean by rinsing it off with a hose or pressure washer. Also, taking a look at the siding after storms is a good idea.
When Should I Call A Professional
The moment that you notice cracks in the walls or concrete slab of your garage or damaged foundation you will want to contact a professional. Also at this time, it is a great idea to call your local home inspection company and a residential structural engineer. Together they can assess the damages and determine the structural integrity of the home.
Understanding what the issue is with your foundation is the first step in getting repairs or fixes done. The slab foundation or foundation wall might be damaged or your house settling might have just caused some vertical cracks to your stucco, brick, or block home. Regardless, of the why, you will want to get a residential structural engineer and a home inspection team out to your home to determine the best solution.