As a house ages, faults are likely to appear. Some will be minor issues caused by settling, but sometimes there will be signs of genuine structural damage. These require prompt action.
Signs of Structural Damage to the Foundations
The foundations of a house are crucial to the entire structure, and when they’re damaged, the symptoms may show up all over the house. This is because damage to the foundations will result in the building’s overall structure becoming uneven and extra pressure being put on some elements.
Typically, the signs to look out for include:
- Substantial cracks appearing in the internal walls, especially above doors or windows, or where the wall meets the ceiling.
- Doors or windows begin sticking.
- The frames for doors or windows are pulling away from the wall.
All these may be due to causes other than damage to the foundations, while very small cracks are probably just due to settling. However, if you’re in any doubt, it’s important to have the foundations checked.
The best way of doing this is to inspect where the foundation meets the crawlspace walls with a flashlight. Hairline cracks are no problem, but more substantial cracks may indicate that your foundations need repairs. This is especially true for vertical cracks that are wider at the top, or any large horizontal cracks.
Repairing Structural Damage to the Foundations
The first and most important step in repairing damaged foundations is to restore their stability. If the damage has been caused by an external factor, such as tree roots or damaged drainage, removing the problem may be enough.
If the problem can’t be easily removed, however, you may need to have your foundations underpinned. This can be done by excavating below them and putting in extra concrete, but in most cases a better option is mini-piling. In this case, piles are either driven or bored through the weak soil to a stronger level, where they can hold the structure secure.
Structural Repairs of Buildings
Securing the foundations is vital, but damage done still needs to be repaired. Typically, this may involve:
- Stitching substantial cracks in walls, using helical wires.
- Repairing and resealing door and window frames that have pulled away from the wall.
- Repairing or replacing worn masonry.
- Replacing worn or rotten timbers.
- Repairs to a sagging roof.
However, the precise repairs that your house may need will depend on the damage done, and that requires professional assessment. If you think your house may need underpinning or other structural repairs, you’re very welcome to get in touch with us.