The structure of your home is essential to its safety and integrity. Structural problems can be a result of poor construction practices, water damage, foundation shifts, or a termite infestation. Knowing the signs of structural problems in the home allows you to address the concerns early before the damage becomes worse.
Looking for Structural Problems in the Home
Visually inspecting a home is a primary means of finding structural damage. Most structural engineers agree that you do not have to be an expert to spot obvious signs of damage, even in its initial stages. The key is being aware of changes in the interior and exterior of your property.
You might notice stains on the interior walls or peeling paint and wallpaper. There might be cracks in the basement walls. Doors and windows may no longer close properly. Some structural problems reveal themselves as damage to the chimney or stair-step cracks in interior or exterior walls.
Signs of Structural Problems
Over time as a home settles, structural issues may appear. Some signs to look for are listed below.
• Cracking drywall in corners and seams
• Loose drywall that exposes nails and drywall tape
• Bulging walls (interior)
• Driveway cracks
• Cracks in bricks and foundation walls
• Soil that pulls away from the home’s foundation
Call a structural engineer at the first sign of a problem. Some issues can be fixed early, preventing the damage from becoming worse.
Windows and Doors
If the exterior and interior walls are being affected by structural problems, then windows and doors will show signs of issues as well. Here are some things to look for:
• Doors or windows do not properly close
• Separation of frames from the wall
• Windows don’t lock
• Spaces between the wall and window trim
• Doors or windows will not open smoothly or at all
• Condensation between panes of glass
Chimney May Show Signs of Structural Problems
If you have a chimney that was built on an exterior wall, look for signs of structural issues there. Pay attention to cracks in mortar and bricks and any shifting of the chimney’s structure. This is usually due to a foundation issue that has forced the chimney to move, which puts pressure on the exterior wall and causes cracks.
Water Damage can Cause Structural Issues
Structural issues caused by a storm, flooding, or an undetected plumbing leak can be some of the most troublesome problems, both inside and outside a home. Water and moisture issues can cause mold and mildew that worsen over time. Damp conditions may affect plywood and the structure of your home, and may even lead to the foundation shifting.
Water stains and other visual imperfections can be a sign of a structural issue in a home. Often, these problems originate outside with roofing issues but could be due to plumbing leaks. Pay attention to the following signs inside your home:
• Sagging ceiling or tiles
• Peeling paint or wallpaper
• Sloping floors
If you spot water damage, call a professional to evaluate the source and recommend solutions to make repairs.
Signs of Structural Issues in the Basement
Walking the perimeter of a well-lit basement allows a homeowner to see cracks in a foundation that may be caused by leaks and water damage. Heavy storms and severe flooding can cause foundation cracks to form because the saturated ground may shift.
Look for signs of structural issues in your home. Catch the problems early so you can hire a professional to make repairs before the damage becomes severe and costly.