SOS! Can Your House Collapse From Foundation Issues?

April 28, 2021

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Can a house collapse from foundation issues? If you’re a homeowner who knows that your home needs foundation repairs, it’s vital that you explore this question further, as you never want to stay in a home that’s unsafe for any reason!

While it’s rare that a house will outright collapse from foundation issues, a weak foundation can lead to damaged and collapsed ceiling tiles and interior walls, as well as dangerous mold, mildew, and pest infestation. Foundation cracks and other damage also get more extensive and costly to fix the longer they’re ignored.

While needed foundation repair can sometimes be somewhat costly, it’s vital that you seal up foundation cracks and other damage quickly, before that damage gets worse. It’s also important that homeowners realize the risk of ignoring a weak or cracked foundation, so you know your home is always safe for occupation.

contractor doing foundation repair inspection at home

Remember to discuss this information with a foundation repair contractor near you as needed, as he or she can inspect your home and note needed repairs, or let you know if the home’s foundation is in good condition and without damage. A foundation repair contractor might also note suggestions for keeping that foundation in good condition, such as waterproofing or crawlspace encapsulation.

Can a House Collapse From Foundation Issues?

A house rarely outright collapses from foundation issues, as said. In many cases, excessive humidity and lack of home maintenance can lead to wood rot, which might be more likely to cause a house to collapse than foundation issues!

foundation issues

Sinkholes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather conditions are also more likely to collapse a home than a weak foundation. However, before you assume you can ignore foundation issues, note some risks involved with a weak, cracked, or severely damaged foundation:

  • As foundation cracks appear and the concrete weakens, a home might then begin to settle and sink along that area. As it does, the home’s framing begins to pull on interior and exterior surfaces, such as walls and ceilings.
  • This sinking and resultant pulling results in wall and ceiling cracks, buckled floors, cracked roofs, and gaps between walls in room corners, as well as drywall nails popping away from framing.
  • Cracked, unfastened drywall might eventually split and then outright collapse.
  • If the framing cracks or weakens along load-bearing walls, these can also collapse and, in turn, allow other walls and ceiling sections to crumble and collapse.
  • As the home’s frame shifts and moves out of a level and even position, door and window frames also become misaligned, making it more difficult to close and lock them securely.
  • Water-damaged or cracked basement walls might bow outward from the weight of the home resting on those walls. In extreme cases, those walls might then crumble and collapse, exposing the home to the outside soil and risking more interior and exterior cracks and related damage.
  • Those foundation cracks let in moisture, which increases the risk of unhealthy mold, mildew under carpet padding, and even standing water in basements and other areas.
  • Cracks also allow in bothersome pests including disease-carrying roaches and rodents. Other insects such as termites and carpenter ants can cause severe damage to a home’s framing and other materials!
  • Foundation damage only gets worse over time, making it more costly to repair. The sooner you schedule needed fixes, the less time and money you’ll spend on those repairs and the less likely you’ll need to also address secondary damage, such as mold or insect infestation.

With all this information in mind, you might realize that a collapsing home is not the only issue to consider when it comes to foundation damage! Timely repairs keep those costs to a minimum and ensure your home is always safe and in good condition over the years.

Diagnosing House Foundation Condition

cracked cement foundation

Regular foundation inspections are the best choice for ensuring your home’s foundation is in good condition, and for knowing when it’s time to schedule repairs. Most homeowners can schedule an inspection every few years, which is typically sufficient for spotting developing cracks and weaknesses.

A homeowner would also do well to note the interior and exterior signs of foundation damage mentioned above, including cracks along walls and ceilings, buckled floors, and roof damage. Doors and windows that stick or refuse to close properly can also indicate foundation damage.

While you might not associate plumbing issues with a damaged foundation, note that a sinking home pulls plumbing pipes and fixtures with it. This pulling can lead to water leaks around connectors and resultant clogs. If your plumber has ruled out all other reasons for plumbing damage, have the home’s foundation inspected!

Water stains on drywall, rot, and mold might also indicate foundation damage. Rather than simply painting over these stains and cleaning mold and mildew along surfaces in the home, have the foundation checked for cracks allowing in water and excess moisture.

Fixing a Sinking House Foundation

The good news for homeowners is that a sinking foundation is often fixable, even if that damage has led to interior and exterior cracks and other secondary issues. Note a few foundation repair methods that might work for your home, and discuss your options with a foundation repair contractor as needed.

repairing a basement foundation

Smaller cracks are often filled with an epoxy injection. These injections expand to fill those cracks and then dry and harden, keeping the cracks closed while providing added support for the foundation. Epoxy injections might cost just a few hundred dollars, depending on the extent of damage and cracks to be filled.

Steel and helical piers help lift a sinking home while providing added support. These piers are inserted into the ground around the perimeter of a sinking foundation; specialty equipment lifts the home into position and the foundation is attached to the piers, keeping it in place. These piers usually cost several hundred dollars each, so your foundation repair costs will vary according to how many piers are needed for your home.

House leveling uses specialty injections underneath the damaged foundation. These injections, similar to putty or grout in texture, expand and harden as they dry, lifting the home to a level position. Those injections then provide added strength for a foundation. House leveling might run a few thousand dollars but should last for decades if not indefinitely.

Bowing basement walls are often treated with carbon fiber straps that push the walls back into their original position and then provide added support against expansion and the risk of cracking and collapsing. Carbon fibers straps are typically a few hundred dollars each, so your cost varies according to how many are needed to repair your home’s damaged foundation.

House Foundation Life Expectancy

Your home’s foundation should outlive you! If high-quality foundation materials are installed properly, that foundation should last at least 80 to 100 years, if not even indefinitely. Consider how many homes and buildings are in existence that are more than a century old, if not even hundreds of years old, and that can tell you how long a quality foundation lasts.

house foundation

Note a few tips for ensuring your home is built with a solid foundation and for keeping it in good condition over the years:

  • If you’re having a new home built, don’t choose foundation installation contractors based on price alone. Investing in a quality foundation at the time of construction can save you money on repairs over the years! Ask how long a contractor has been in business and what guarantees they offer, so you know your new foundation will last.
  • Treatments such as termite-proofing can help coat foundation concrete with protective barriers against insects, excess moisture, lawn care chemicals, snow salt, and other corrosive materials.
  • Regular waterproofing also ensures foundation concrete stays strong. Invest in high-quality waterproofing products from professionals rather than DIY, over-the-counter products, for maximum benefit.
  • If your home’s basement or lower levels suffer from excess dampness, use a dehumidifier or sump pump in the space, even if the foundation has been waterproofed. This added step will ensure foundation concrete stays dry and in good condition over the years.

What Happens If You Don’t Fix Foundation Problems?

The risk of severe cracks, mold, wood rot, and insect infestation should be enough to convince any homeowner to schedule needed foundation repair at the first sign of damage. However, you might also remember that your foundation will only get weaker and that damage more extensive over time! The longer you put off needed repairs, the most expensive they become.

repairing a house foundation

A homeowner might also note that a damaged foundation can affect a home’s value and salability. Potential homebuyers tend to shy away from homes with severe foundation damage or lower their offers significantly. Even if you don’t plan on selling your home anytime soon, note that property values might affect your ability to get a home equity loan or other such lines of credit.

To avoid these risks, schedule foundation inspections regularly. Patch up smaller cracks as soon as they appear, and invest in underpinning or other repairs as needed. This will ensure the foundation stays strong and in good condition for as long as you own your home.

Columbia Foundation Repair & Waterproofing is proud to offer this information to our readers and we hope it answered the question, can a house collapse from foundation issues? Here at Columbia Foundation Repair & Waterproofing, we’re also proud of the work offered by our Columbia foundation repair contractors. If you need a foundation inspection or repairs in Columbia and surrounding cities, give us a call! We offer convenient appointments and guaranteed services you can trust.

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