Keeping your home in optimal condition is no easy task. In addition to aesthetic details such as the paint and floor finishes, and functional considerations such as the plumbing and heating systems, the actual structure of your home must be managed to keep it safe.
It is best to identify structural damage early. The longer your home’s integrity is allowed to collapse, the more difficult and costly it becomes to address. So how do you know if your home’s structure is starting to fail?
Thankfully, with regular attention to detail, you will be able to observe some telltale signs that the building structure is becoming compromised.
Look for cracks
The biggest tell-tale sign of structural issues is cracks and seams in both the interior and exterior of the home.
Not all cracks are a big deal, but you will want to take note if some start to appear, and investigate any that do. Cracks in drywall can indicate structural damage, particularly if they appear at the corners of doors or windows. Cracks in the upper corners of the room, where the wall meets the ceiling, can also indicate an uneven distribution of pressure.
Depending on the materials used on the exterior of your home, seams may appear on the outside to indicate structural damage. These are more readily apparent in brick homes, but changes in stone or even wood-sided houses can indicate issues such as settling or compromised foundation.
Test the foundation
Most structural issues begin in the foundation of the home. The foundation can easily fall out-of-sight and out-of-mind, so make a note to check it regularly, at least once per year. To check the foundation, start by going into your home’s basement and observing the walls. The following things can indicate an issue:
- Concrete or stone walls that are uneven with bowing
- Unlevel floor
- Use a screwdriver to poke at the concrete – if it does not hold up, then there are structural issues
- Wide cracks in concrete walls
- Horizontal cracks in concrete walls
Be sure to observe your walls regularly in order to take note of changes. The foundation should also be observed on the outside of your home, above ground, checking for bowing, disintegration, and cracks.
Note changes in doors and windows
If your home’s structure is beginning to shift, it will often show in the windows and doors. Take note of any changes in the ease of use in windows and doors. Do not make the common mistake of attributing changes to warping due to humidity. While this may be the case, if a door becomes difficult to close or a window that was once easy to maneuver becomes stuck, it could indicate that the structure of your walls is shifting.
Other key observations
While these are the three big items to take note of, there are other smaller observations that could indicate compromised home structure. These include:
- Separation between structures such as chimneys and the rest of the house
- Water pooling in the basement
- Rot in joists in basement or crawl space
- Unlevel floors
- Gaps around windows and doors
- Cracks in tile laid over a concrete floor
Hire a home inspector
If you observe one of these changes, and especially if you observe many of them, it is prudent to hire a home inspector to assess whether they do indicate structural damage, and what type of structural damage is at play. Getting a prognosis early will enable you to address issues before they spread throughout the home’s foundation and compromise multiple elements of the structure.
If your home is found to have structural damage, repairs vary in scale and cost. It may simply be that some of the home’s joints need to be replaced, or that some extra support structures need to be added after the house has settled fully onto its foundation. More expensive repairs are required when rot and mold have compromised the wood infrastructure of the home, or if the foundation itself needs to be replaced.
The physical structure of your home should not be taken for granted. Remain observant and take regular stock of any changes to your home’s exterior, walls, foundation and functionality of windows and doors. With proper monitoring and a quick response, you can address structural issues before they become too costly.
Mark, 32, from BestBar – Mark has been a marketer and content writer for over 10 years. Recently starting to work with BestBar he has covered some hot topics in the Steel industry.
Mark specialises in journalistic articles tailored for large corporations. In his spare time, he is a loving husband and father of two. At the weekends, he likes to visit Sydney harbour with the children and dine in many of the fine restaurants Sydney has to offer.