Top 10 Warning Signs of Foundation Damage

If you have foundation damage, professional repair is the only way to keep the problems from worsening. If you wait too long, your home could develop serious structural issues or even become uninhabitable.

foundation damage

But how do you know if your foundation needs to be repaired? Keep an eye out for the warning signs, and you may catch the problem before it goes too far.

No. 1: Cracks and Bows in Walls

Vertical or horizontal cracks in concrete walls or drywall may indicate that your home has foundation problems. The same goes for bowed or bucking walls, a common issue in basements.

No. 2: Cracks in the Floor

Cracks running through your concrete floors are a big red flag for foundation problems. Garages, basements and porches often crack as a result of settlement pressure.

No. 3: Cracks in Foundation Blocks or Bricks

When settlement occurs, foundation blocks or bricks frequently develop cracks. The bricks can crack vertically, horizontally or in a stair-step pattern.

No. 4: Sagging or Uneven Floors

Do certain areas of your floor creak? Settlement can also cause floors to sag or become uneven. The slope isn’t always easily visible, but a squeaky floor is hard to miss.

No. 5: Doors and Windows that Stick

Sometimes, humidity can cause doors and windows to swell, causing problems with opening and closing. In many cases, however, foundation settlement is the real culprit.

No. 6: Gaps around Door and Window Frames

Even if your doors and windows don’t stick, you could still have foundation problems if you see separations around their frames. Settlement often creates gaps, mainly on the exterior frame supports.

No. 7: Displaced Crown Molding

If the crown molding near your ceiling has started to pull away, foundation settlement could be the reason. Instability in your home’s structural support can cause separation at the corners or cracks in the wood.

No. 8: Cabinets that Separate from the Wall

Do any of your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room cabinets or countertops seem to be pulling away from the wall? Settlement makes walls and floors uneven, which can affect your installed cabinets and counters.

No. 9: Moisture in the Basement or Crawl Space

Foundation cracks can allow moisture to seep inside. If your basement or crawl space is wet, smells musty or has mold growth, settlement may have occurred.

No. 10: A Cracked Chimney

Your chimney is far from the foundation, but settlement in the soil can make it unstable. As a result, the chimney bricks can crack. Or, the entire chimney can develop a noticeable lean.

What to Do If You Find Evidence of Foundation Damage

Foundation problems happen over time, and many warning signs appear just as gradually. So, you may not even notice much of a problem unless you really look. Foundation settlement contractors recommend that you inspect your home inside and out several times each year. If your home is older, or if you have had problems in the past, an annual professional inspection is a great way to catch problems before they get out of hand.

If you suspect your home has settled – or if you’d like the peace of mind in knowing your foundation is structurally sound – schedule your professional consultation. Atlas Piers offers complimentary inspections and repair estimates to homeowners throughout Utah, Wyoming and Nevada. Solving foundation problems is our specialty, so contact us today.

What Causes Foundation Problems?

Foundation problems are a major cause of concern for many homeowners. No one wants to live in a house that isn’t structurally sound, yet repairs can be costly.

Doors and windows that stick or fail to close completely and cracks appearing on the inside or outside of your home are common warning signs of foundation damage. A leaning chimney, sagging front porch and bowed or sloped walls or floors could also indicate a problem.

foundation problems

But what causes these structural issues?

Foundation Problems are Soil Problems

In most cases, the foundation itself isn’t the source of your settlement problems. Though age or improper construction could play a part in some damage, a house foundation doesn’t just shift, settle or crack on its own.

The real culprit is the soil underneath the home.

Homes are not usually built on land with perfect soil conditions. Many houses throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming are built upon expansive soils, which can shrink and swell. As the soil volume changes, the foundation moves. This movement can eventually lead to cracks and other damage.

Foundation Problems are Caused by Water

The soil expands and contracts as a result of changes in moisture content.

Expansive soil contains a high percentage of clay, which absorbs water easily. When it rains or snows, the soil soaks up the water and swells, pushing upwards on the foundation. Then, as the moisture dries up, the soil shrinks back down and the foundation settles.

Drainage issues can also contribute to the problem. Damaged or misdirected downspouts and gutters can dump extra water into the soil closest to your home, oversaturating it and increasing the chance of damage. Having trees, shrubs and plants too close to the foundation can also cause a problem, especially if you overwater these plants.

Cracks and Identifying Foundation Problems

As we mentioned, homeowners with foundation damage often see cracks. Cracks can appear inside, on the walls near the doors, windows or ceiling. Or, the exterior concrete may develop cracking.

Cracks may point to the need for repair. However, contrary to popular belief, they don’t usually indicate the location of your structural problem.

Cracks are like hinges that appear at relief points of movement for the foundation. Shifting and settling in the soil under one part of the home often causes cracking to occur elsewhere.

To find out the source of your foundation problems, you’ll need to have a professional contractor perform an inspection. At the same time, you can request a repair estimate.

The professional team at Atlas Piers offers complimentary consultations to homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. To learn more or to schedule an inspection for foundation problems, contact us today.

Foundation Settling and the Influence of Soil Conditions

Foundation settling, gone unchecked, can present a significant problem for Utah homeowners.

Foundation Settlement Prevention

Our state’s notoriously poor soils conditions contribute to that problem, and they add to the challenge of foundation repair

How a Home’s Design Affects Foundation Settling

When foundation settlement occurs in a newer home, the homeowner is often quick to point fingers at the architect and contractor. Blaming poor design, faulty construction methods or both, the homeowner often pursues resolution in court.

What they often find, however, is the foundation settling is not the fault of the home’s design or construction methods. Rather, some type of soil issue is to blame in most cases. 

If the problem can be traced to improper soils testing or compaction, the homeowner may have recourse against the contractor. In many cases, however, the problem can be traced to something else.

Utah Soil Conditions and Foundation Settling

In Utah, we are fortunate to enjoy a wide variety of topography and four dazzling seasons. Unfortunately, these are the primary reasons for our abysmal soil conditions. 

Clay soils are the worst enemy of your home’s foundation and – as you might guess – we have lots of clay in our soil. Sandy soils allow moisture to pass through without shifting or changing the nature of the dirt. Clay, on the other hand, absorbs water and expands. When the water dries out, the clay contracts.

The changing of the seasons can exacerbate the problem as well, as the freezing and thawing cycle can also cause the foundation to shift.

Watch for Warning Signs

If you can confront the risk factors around your home to prevent foundation settling, you have little to worry about. Even if you can catch the problem early, it will be much easier to deal with.

Inside your home, keep an eye out for cracks in the drywall, especially those that appear suddenly. Those that radiate diagonally from the corners of door and windows are the ones that most likely indicate a settlement issue.

Take note also if you have a door or window that suddenly starts sticking or won’t shut all the way.

Outside, watch for cracks in your exterior walls that look like stair steps, or that run diagonally to the corners of window or door openings. Along your foundation, watch for new or worsening cracks.

In the basement, be on the lookout for cracks, leaks or bowed walls. If you have a crawl space under your home, watch for bows in the structural support members.

You can also contact a local foundation settlement company to provide an inspection. Atlas Piers provides foundation support systems and foundation repair in Utah as well as Wyoming and Nevada.

Contact us today to discuss your home and any concerns you may have about potential foundation settling.

How to Prepare for Your Foundation Repair Project

When you schedule your foundation repair project, we take great care to explain what you expect when the crew arrives and begins the work. In most cases, we can complete our customers’ projects with little or no disruption to the household.

For the smoothest experience and the least amount of aggravation, we may request that you make a few preparations. Not only will this help the crew complete the job quickly and efficiently but it can also help protect your family and your home’s contents.

foundation repair

Prepare Your Yard for the Foundation Repair Project

Depending on the type of foundation work that you need, the grass, plants and bushes surrounding your home may have to be disturbed to reach the damaged areas. If you have plants and grass immediately adjacent to the foundation, removing or disturbing them may be unavoidable to ensure we have access to the perimeter of your home.

The best way to preserve any plants that you want to keep is to transplant them in advance of the work. We can point out exactly where any digging or disruption will take place, so you won’t have to guess which plants and shrubs are involved.

Rather than doing the work yourself, you could hire professional landscapers to handle the yard preparations. Many homeowners combine foundation repair with a landscaping update. This allows them to improve their home’s curb appeal and value, and to get the disruptions all out of the way at one time.

Protect the Inside of Your Home During Foundation Repair

The heavy machinery used during the repair process can sometimes cause the floors and walls of your home to vibrate. If you prepare in advance for the vibration, you can avoid any potential damage.

Check your walls, cabinets and shelves for items that could fall and break, and pack them away in a safe spot until the repair job is finished. Remove artwork hanging on the wall and secure taller items that may be prone to toppling over.

Plan for the Disruptions of Foundation Repair

For safety reasons, some homeowners may need to temporarily relocate while their foundation damage repair work is completed. However, the majority of our customers are free to stay at home if they like.

But, for peace of mind, you and your family may prefer to leave the house. The repair process creates noise and vibrations, which can be disruptive to small children and pets.

You can take a day trip, head to the park, visit the library, see some friends or spend the afternoon shopping. Plan ahead, and you can have an enjoyable day out and about.

Most projects can be completed within a few hours, depending upon the number of piers that must be installed. However, if your foundation damage is extensive, the repairs could take more than one day. If yours is a larger project or the damage requires interior piers, our team may need more time to complete the work.

If that’s the case, you will know well in advance. And we are happy to schedule your project at your convenience, so you have plenty of time to prepare.

The foundation settlement experts at Atlas Piers offer complimentary consultations for homeowners throughout Nevada, Wyoming and Utah. Contact us today to schedule your foundation repair inspection and estimate.

Should You Repair Foundation Damage Before Selling Your Home?

Must you repair foundation damage before listing your house for sale? You don’t have to do these repairs, no, but doing so can be a wise investment that pays off at closing.

Real estate agents recommend that sellers make their home as appealing as possible before listing it for sale. Unfortunately, foundation settlement problems are highly off-putting to most potential buyers. Doing the repairs ahead of time can facilitate the selling process and protect your home’s foundation damage

State Laws Govern Foundation Damage Disclosure

Many states impose legal requirements that compel sellers to disclose material facts about their home’s condition. This means that, depending upon where you live, you may have to advise potential buyers of any foundation problems.

Nevada home sellers must complete a disclosure statement that lists all known material defects, including any foundation settling or damage that you are aware of.

Utah law only requires home sellers to disclose previous methamphetamine use, storage or production on the property. Although structural defects don’t legally have to be divulged, most brokerages require sellers to complete a property disclosure statement.

Wyoming homeowners are also not required by law to disclose defects; however, real estate brokers are legally required to reveal any adverse information they have regarding the property’s condition.

Regardless of your state’s laws, disclosing foundation problems is important because it protects you against future legal liability. Refusing to provide a seller’s disclosure statement will also raise a red flag to potential buyers, who may assume that you are hiding a problem.

Foundation Damage Scares Away Potential Buyers

When shopping for a house, buyers and their agents are always on the lookout for obvious problems, especially structural or foundation damage. Even if you don’t disclose your structural issues, most buyers will discover any settlement or damage during their home inspection.

Structural issues are red flags to home buyers, and most will avoid any house that requires foundation repair. Unless you fix the problem ahead of time, your pool of potential buyers will be significantly reduced and your listing may languish, unsold.

Your other option is to reduce the asking price of the home and advertise it for sale ‘as-is.” However, you will likely have to cut your selling price far below the cost of the actual repairs.

Many Lenders Refuse to Fund Homes with Foundation Damage

If you elect to reduce the asking price and sell your house as-is, you will further restrict the pool of potential buyers – especially those who plan to purchase with a home loan or mortgage.

If your prospective buyers aren’t prepared to pay cash, they may have problems completing the sale. Many traditional mortgage lenders are unable to fund properties with unrepaired structural issues.

Fortunately, mitigating your foundation damage does not have to be a high-priced nightmare. An experienced foundation repair contractor can complete the work and provide you with the documentation necessary to give both potential buyers and their lenders peace of mind.

Atlas Piers, trusted by homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming for over 26 years, can provide the expert repair you need to command top dollar for your property. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and estimate to repair your foundation damage.

Prevent Foundation Problems with These Landscaping Tips

Foundation problems can compromise the structural integrity of your home. In the Intermountain West, our unstable soil conditions increase this risk. Damage to your home’s support system can be corrected but the damage can become extensive – and expensive – before you know you have a problem. foundation problems

Fortunately, you can help prevent foundation damage by making a few changes in your landscaping. These tips can help you design your lawns and gardens to more effectively preserve your home’s structural support.

Grade Your Lot Properly to Avoid Foundation Problems

Is the lawn around your home completely flat? Or, worse, does it slope toward the house? You’re asking for foundation problems, if so, as any water runoff will settle at the location of your home’s structural support footings.

Grading the lot properly is essential to prevent drainage issues and protect your home from structural damage. Your lot should slope downward at least 6 inches over the first 10 feet of soil closest to the foundation.

If your slope is less, regrading the lawn will help you avoid any further foundation damage. You can tackle a grading project on your own or you can contact a local landscaping company or excavation contractor to handle it for you.

Don’t Install Plants Too Close to Your House Foundation

Do you have bushes, hedges, trees or flowers around the perimeter of your house? If so, it can lead to foundation problems unless you plan the landscaping correctly.

If you place plants too close to your home, their root systems can expand and grow beneath your foundation’s footings. Installing root barriers is one way to help avoid this problem. Or simply avoid planting anything immediately adjacent to the foundation.

Here’s a good landscaping rule of thumb to avoid foundation damage. Consider the mature width of your plants, and place them at least that far away from your home. If any branches or leaves touch the house – or could touch the house once they’ve reached maturity – the plants are too close.

Plan Concrete Features Carefully to Prevent Foundation Problems

Concrete sidewalks, driveways, patios and landscaping paths should be designed and built to direct water runoff away from your house. Otherwise, water can pond near the foundation.

It’s also wise to plan for balance when designing new concrete landscaping elements around your home. Placing a large expanse of concrete on one side of your house and heavily-watered garden beds on the other could create structural foundation problems, as the soils may settle differently in these locations.

When making any significant landscaping modifications around your home, consider your storm water and roof drainage management plan. An effective gutter system with properly placed downspouts can help you avoid the need for structural foundation repairs. It can also augment your sprinkler system, saving you money on the water bill.

Applying these tips around your home can save you the stress and expense of foundation repair. If it’s too late and you already have foundation settlement problems, we can help. Atlas Piers, serving homeowners throughout Nevada, Wyoming and Utah, can evaluate your home and provide a customized estimate for repairing your foundation problems. Contact us today to schedule your free inspection.

How to Hire a Foundation Repair Contractor

When hiring a foundation repair contractor, what qualifications should you look for?

Foundation Repair ContractorIf you’re like many homeowners, you may not be familiar with how repairs for foundation damage are completed. But, because your home is a large investment, you want to be sure that the job is done well.

So, how can you determine which repair contractor to trust for your home foundation repair?

Check Foundation Repair Contractor Credentials

Before anything else, make sure that any contractor you’re considering is qualified to handle foundation repair. This is a complex industry, so experience is essential.

Start by checking to see if the contractor has a valid contractor’s license. Look for local companies that are familiar with building codes, construction techniques and the soil conditions in your area. Contractors must have a solid understanding of how different types of foundations and soils react to the support system options that are commonly used for repairs.

For additional information, visit the Better Business Bureau website. There, you can see how long a company has been in business, review their rating and check out any complaints filed against them.

Check References from Previous Foundation Repair Customers

Before selecting a repair contractor, take the time to check their references.

Any reputable foundation company will be willing to provide you with references from former customers. Don’t just glance over the list, either. Contact the customers to obtain first-hand information on their experiences with the contractor.

Find out how their repairs went by asking specific questions:

  • Did the foundation contractor show up on time and complete the work on schedule?
  • Did the project come in according to their budget?
  • Was the repair job done professionally?
  • Would you hire the company again?

Checking references will give you a much better understanding of a foundation company’s quality of work and reliability.

Request Estimates from Foundation Repair Contractors

Industry experts recommend that you request repair quotes from at least a few local foundation contractors. To truly compare project estimates from different companies, request that the contractors provide these estimates in writing.

Ensure that each quote clearly defines the scope of work involved in the project. Repair costs, an estimated schedule for the job and any specific conditions, agreements or stipulations for the work should also be included.

Written project estimates should also contain warranty information, and list exactly what is covered and for how long. Finally, quotes should indicate if warranties are transferable in the event the home is sold.

A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau since 2002. If you need the services of a professional foundation repair contractor, contact us today to schedule a free consultation and estimate.

Does Cracked Paint Mean You Need Foundation Repair?

It’s probably time for foundation crack repair if you notice settlement cracks around the exterior of your home or damage to your basement walls. But what if you notice unusual cracks in the interior paint?

foundation repair

When you notice paint cracks inside the house, thoughts of repainting probably come to mind. And sometimes, a coat of fresh paint is all you need to solve the problem. But in some cases, cracked interior paint can be a reliable indicator of foundation settling.

So how can you tell if your cracking paint is no big deal, or a symptom of a larger, more serious settlement issue?

When Cracked Paint Signals Foundation Settlement Problems

Look closely at the cracks in your walls. Do the cracks stop with the paint?

Use a small flat-head screwdriver or utility knife to chip away loose paint. If you don’t see any damage to the wall underneath the painted surface, you probably don’t have foundation damage. In that case, you should be safe to add a new coat of paint.

If, however, the cracks extend beneath the paint, you may well have some foundation damage. Cracking that is adjacent to your doors or windows, or that originates from the corners of door or window frames is especially bad news.

Foundation-related cracks can also run diagonally (up or down) from the corners of the interior walls.

How Can Foundation Repair Fix Your Wall Cracks?

Interior cracks related to settlement occur when the structural weight of your home shifts, placing excess pressure and torque on walls, doors and windows. Foundation repair won’t repair the cracks – obviously – but it will correct the underlying structural problems that caused them.

Foundation contractors offer a variety of solutions to fix these structural issues.

For example, resistance piers or helical piers may be installed to shore up the settling foundation. Both types of piers consist of strong, heavy-duty steel tubes that are placed deep into the soil. The piers provide support and stabilize your walls, to prevent further settling and the subsequent interior cracking.

The type of piers used for your foundation repair will depend upon your soil conditions and the extent of your structural damage. Tieback anchors are another common foundation repair option, especially if you have bowed walls in the basement. Tiebacks secure cracked walls to the soil on the outside of the house, using tension to make the walls stronger and straighter.

Can You Paint Over the Cracks Instead of Having Foundation Repair?

If you’re at all in doubt as to whether or not your paint cracks are serious, contact a professional foundation contractor for an inspection.

Covering foundation cracks with a fresh coat of paint is like putting lipstick on a pig. The cosmetic fix may make it look better, but that’s merely a temporary disguise for what’s really underneath.

Foundation damage should never be ignored, as it will only get worse over time. This serious structural problem will never work itself out. And, if you repaint and put off the repairs, settling will progress unabated. Consequently, the damage will worsen and the repairs will be much more extensive –and expensive – when you do get around to it.

The professionals at Atlas Piers provide a full range of foundation restoration services to customers throughout Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Before you add that new coat of paint, contact us to schedule a free foundation repair consultation and estimate.

Paying for Foundation Repair: Financing Options for Homeowners

Foundation repair can create a financial obstacle for many homeowners. Not everyone has enough cash in the bank to cover the costs of fixing foundation damage and restoring the structural stability of their home.


Are your financial resources a challenge? Don’t let that stop you from having the foundation repairs you need. Failing to repair a settling or damaged foundation can lead to significant structural damage that compromises the safety and value of your home.

Instead of allowing the damage to continue, fund your foundation project with one of the many available financing options.

Use Your Home Equity to Fund Foundation Repairs

Have you considered leveraging the equity in your home? Borrowing against your home’s equity could provide you with the cash you need for foundation repairs.

A home equity loan can be a good option, as it provides you with a lump sum of money for the repair project. These fixed-rate loans have terms that range from five to fifteen years, and the payments and interest rate remain the same for the lifetime of the loan.

You could also opt for a home equity line of credit, or HELOC. This financial instrument is similar to a credit card, in that you are approved for a spending limit that you can access when you need it. Unlike a home equity loan, the payments for a HELOC are not typically fixed. Your payments will vary depending upon the amount borrowed and the current interest rate.

This financing option may be preferable if you anticipate needing funds for other home repairs in the future.

Finance Your Foundation Repair with a Government Loan

If you don’t have enough equity in your home to fund the repairs, you may be eligible for a government-backed home improvement loan.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), offers Title I loans that can be used for home improvements and foundation structural repairs.

Or, if you have a limited income and live in an eligible area, you may qualify for a Section 504 Home Repair loan through the Rural Housing Service (RHS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This program also provides grants for foundation repair projects to homeowners age 62 or older.

Other Ways to Pay for Your Foundation Repair

Can you qualify for an unsecured, interest-free credit card? Charge only your foundation project on the new card and pay it off over the course of a year. In essence, you’re financing your project by breaking up the expense into 12 equal, monthly payments.

You could also consider applying for a personal loan at your bank or credit union. Or, check with your foundation repair contractor. Many offer financing options that make your project more affordable.

The professional foundation repair and restoration team at Atlas Piers understands that structural settlement is a concern for many homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary inspection and estimate for your residential foundation repair.

Prevent Foundation Damage with These Three Steps

Most homeowners don’t think about foundation damage – until they develop a crack, leak or settling, that is.

foundation damage Utah


Although most structural and settlement issues can be repaired, waiting until a serious problem develops can be a costly mistake. Save yourself the aggravation and expense involved with foundation repair by taking steps to prevent or avoid this damage from happening.

Prevent Foundation Damage by Grading Your Yard

Take a look at the soil around your home’s foundation. Does it slope away from your house? If the dirt isn’t properly angled, water won’t drain away properly. The results of standing water and residual moisture can eventually lead to foundation settlement and related problems.

To protect your home, your yard must be graded to slope downward at least 6 inches over 10 feet of soil.

You can use a contractor’s level to check the slope of your yard. Place one end of the tool where the soil meets your foundation wall. Then, holding it in a level position, measure the space between the end of the tool and the top of the soil.

Now, just do some math. Let’s say you used a 2-foot level and measured a 3-inch gap. To see what your slope is over 10 feet, you’ll need to multiply that 3-inch measurement by 5 (because 10 feet ÷ 2 feet = 5). So, your slope is 15 inches, which is sufficient, as it is steeper than the necessary 6-inch grade.

If your grade is less than 6 inches over 10 feet, however, you must re-grade to create the proper soil slope. A local landscaper or excavation contractor can assist you, if the job is larger than you feel comfortable handling yourself.

Maintain Your Downspouts to Prevent Foundation Damage

The right soil slope will help direct water away from your home and prevent foundation damage. But, without effective downspouts, rainwater running off your roof will cascade down onto the soil below, causing erosion and seeping into your basement or crawlspace.

Make sure that your downspouts are directed between 5 and 10 feet away from your house. If yours are not, install extenders or an underground downspout diverter to allow water to drain away from your foundation. And, of course, maintain all of your rain gutters free of debris to prevent blockages.

Avoid Foundation Damage by Keeping Soil at a Constant Moisture Level

Foundation damage is frequently the result of soil expansion and contraction. Consequently, if you can keep the soil around your home at a constant level of moisture, you can help avoid settlement and stress on your foundation walls.

Check to see if there is a gap between your foundation walls and the soil. No gap means your moisture level is good; however, if you see a gap, you gently add water to the soil around your foundation until the dirt expands and closes the gap.

To keep the moisture level constant and protect your foundation, add low-water-use native plant species around your home. Be careful, however, as any large root systems that grow too close to your house can cause foundation problems. Talk to your local nursery or landscape company for plant recommendations.

Atlas Piers serves homeowners throughout Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection and to learn more about how to prevent or repair foundation damage.