13 Ways You Can Tell If Your Foundation Is Bad

13 Ways You Can Tell If Your Foundation Is Bad

Your foundation supports the whole house, so if the foundation is bad, your home is at risk of destruction. Foundational problems should be resolved soon to prevent worse structural damage and loss of lives and property. 

Also, if you’re in Minnesota and want to sell your house, you may need to do repairs to increase its marketability. 

How To Tell If Your Foundation Is Bad

Often, foundational issues present telltale signs that warn you of bigger problems if you fail to act fast. Discover how to address cracked foundation repairs before selling your Minnesota house below.

There Are Cracks in Your Foundation

Over time, inclement weather, expanding and contracting soils, and other conditions cause foundational movements and foundation cracks. Your foundation gets gaps and cracks that are usually a grave concern and call for prompt foundational repairs. 

Vertical cracks are often less dangerous because the dry walls run in the same direction.

Horizontal cracks usually suggest that your house is getting more than an acceptable amount of settling. Such gaps are considered more dangerous than vertical gaps because they signify a lot of pressure on the foundation’s perimeter. 

When more water invades the cracks, the excessive moisture makes the foundation more prone to cracking and shifting.

Interior Wall Cracks

Cracks in your house’s interior often appear near doors, window frames, and other openings or where two walls meet. The gaps can occur when the soil underneath becomes unstable, causing the foundation to settle. 

The foundation can’t support your house’s weight when settling occurs, causing a shift. The shift causes the wall to move, resulting in interior cracks.

Old age and substandard construction materials can also cause interior wall cracks. Failure to repair tiny cracks can lead to more significant breaks down the line. 

The broader gaps usually point to a more severe foundational problem that is costlier to repair for homeowners. Also, if you plan to sell your house, you may not find a market easily if your house has foundation issues.

 Nevertheless, some companies that buy houses in any condition may still consider yours!

Uneven Floors

A shifting foundation compacts your house’s support beams and walls. In turn, the weight of your house spreads unevenly, causing a sag in walls, ceilings, and floors. 

Changes in the soil supporting your foundation can also weaken the support and cause unevenness in floors. Besides, when looking for a buyer for your Minnesota home, unevenness can reduce the house’s price.

You can use a level to inspect your floor’s slope from time to time. Call a foundation expert for a more detailed inspection if you notice a shift in one direction. Otherwise, the uneven surface may pose safety risks, especially to vulnerable people like children and older adults.

Doors Not Shutting Properly 

When your foundation shifts, the doors may move along and fall out of alignment. If one side of the door is lower than the other, it’ll stick and become difficult to close or open. 

Foundational movements that change the position of the door frames also leave spaces beneath or above the door when they lock. 

Sometimes, doors stick more in areas with high humidity or during the humid seasons in Minnesota. If your doors stick at such times and there aren’t other signs of foundation issues, wait to see if normalcy resumes after the humid season. 

Call for expert inspection immediately if the problem is worse than a bit of swelling.

Exterior Wall Cracks

Hairline cracks don’t usually signify a foundational problem. If you notice zig-zag cracks, be warned of a major issue. A stair-step crack or cracks that are wide on one end and narrow on the other are also significant indicators of a problematic foundation.

Other issues to watch out for in exterior wall cracks include the size and degree of growth. You need professional repair if the cracks multiply rapidly or are wider than a quarter inch.  Also, if your foundation appears to stick outwards, you have a big foundational issue that should be resolved quickly.

Cabinets and Other Static Structures Separated From Walls

Foundational problems sometimes interfere with the leveling of walls and floors in your home. In turn, the cabinets, counters, and other structures attached to the wall detach. 

You will notice that items that were once firm against the wall have small spaces between them. In other cases, the once-leveled strictures start sloping.

In other cases, a shift makes the foundation unstable. In turn, the weight of static structures puts uneven pressure on the wall, further separating the wall from the foundation. 

Experts may add reinforcement beams to the wall or level your foundation to restore your home’s structural integrity.

Musty Basement Odor

Mildew in your basement forms when moisture gets in and lingers for some time. If you have no leaking faucets, the water could be getting in through tiny foundation cracks. 

As more moisture seeps into the cracks, your foundation becomes weaker. If left unrepaired for long, the slab will give out and cause your home to sink into the ground.

Excessive moisture in your crawl space doesn’t only cause mildew but also makes your beams rot. Foundational beam rots can attract termites and are costlier to repair. Besides structural problems, mildew can cause skin irritation, running nose, and other health complications.

How To Tell if My Foundation is Bad

Bouncy Floors

Your floors are supposed to be firm if the foundation is stable. A bouncy feeling indicates a problem with your floor’s support. Foundation settlement, poor structure, and rotten structural beams are some causes of bounciness.

Bouncy floors can also be a result of a shifting foundation. During a shift, the floor joists loosen, and the floor becomes less stable. In severe cases, you can feel a significant give when you walk across the floor. 

You can resolve the problem and prevent further foundation damage with prompt diagnosis and repair.

Drainage Problems

The poor leveling that some foundation problems create can disrupt the plumbing systems. The issues are always repetitive and include the following:

  • Recurrent weak toilet strength flush. When the foundation breaks, sags, or shifts, it can pull the drain lines along and create a break in the line, weakening the flushing system.
  • Slow drainage and backups. Foundational shifts and breaks can pull the drain lines and create a misalignment or separation that causes slow drainage.
  • Water leaking through the slab. Settling foundations can slowly impair supply lines, causing a leak or water saturation on some parts of the floor.
  • High water bills with no signs of apparent leaks. Foundation problems can bend supply pipes or cause small leakages underneath your home that you can’t notice.

Often, drainage issues don’t occur without other accompanying signs of foundation problems. If you suspect your drainage problems result from foundational issues, check for the other signs discussed above.

Warped or Cracked Siding

Moisture, foundational movements, and water that freezes inside foundation gaps can cause your siding to crack, warp, or buckle. Warped siding could sometimes indicate a more significant problem, like a weak foundation or insect infestation.

If your house has wood cladding, you can easily spot when something is amiss. You’ll notice gaps where the siding overlaps at the top and bottom or small cracks where the siding lengths join. Such issues can also be an eyesore and a downside if you plan on selling your house.

Sinking Ground

Your foundation should be uniform, so if you notice a ‘settling effect,’ you must act fast. Many homes are also graded to allow melted snow and water to flow away from the foundation. 

If you notice water increasingly pooling towards your foundation and the culprit isn’t landscape erosion, foundational problems could be the issue.

If the sinking effect starts on one side and you ignore it, other areas will follow suit and make your house increasingly unlevel. 

Also, a slight sinking effect doesn’t usually stop at that. The tiny dip will increase as time goes by, and failure to repair the problem may cause your house to crumble down in the future.

Cracks or Nails Popping Out of the Drywall

A vertical crack on your drywall is not a cause for concern, but you should be alarmed if more cracks develop. Diagonal cracks on the drywall also usually suggest movements below the foundation. Since your floors are supported from the foundation upwards, diagonal cracks signify that your foundation is unstable.

Nails popping out of the drywall can be normal or dangerous, depending on the severity. A single nail popping out is not a significant problem; you can fix the nail and let it be. 

However, most or all of your nails coming out could signify shifting drywall. Although you can sell the house as is, the house may crumble down if you wait too long.

Cracked or Slanted Chimney

An unlevel or unbalanced foundation or excessive moisture can cause your chimney to crack or break. An extreme shift can cause your chimney to collapse. 

When the chimney begins to separate from your home, you have a big problem with your home’s foundation.

An inspection of your chimney’s placement along your home’s wall can tell if it is slanted. If there is a gap between the chimney and the wall, your chimney is sloping. 

Call an expert to stabilize a leaning chimney in good time. Otherwise, you risk facing other problems like mold infestation, water damage, or a crooked chimney.


Your house is an expensive investment you should protect in the best way possible. If there are weaknesses in the foundation, the destruction will work its way up. It pays off to proactively handle foundational problems to protect life and property.

A visual inspection helps you catch the early signs of foundational problems. You will need a structural engineer or foundation expert to pinpoint the exact issue and solution. 

Don’t wait for your house foundation to become more damaged before seeking help. If you leave foundation problems for a long time, you will incur more damage and foundation repair costs before you can sell your Minnesota home.

If you need to sell a house fast in Minnesota, you should know that we help cash home buyers in Minneapolis and we buy houses Shakopee residents love. Give us a call today!


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