Your home is a valuable asset and a place where you and your loved ones should be safe and protected. Unfortunately, harsh weather conditions and natural disasters, poor construction, poor planning, or everyday wear and tear can cause interior and exterior structural damage to your property.
The main procedure for checking the structural integrity of your home is to look for the tell-tale signs of structural damage, and then to test for it. Assessing and protecting your house’s structural integrity is not easy, especially if you don't know what to look for.
Suppose you’ve experienced harsh weather conditions such as the arctic temperatures Texas experienced in February 2021. In that case, you can discover here how to prevent structural damage caused by frozen pipes.
Before you call in a professional to help you determine the damage’s scope, you can initially inspect the property by yourself. This list of thirteen ways to check the structural integrity of your home will list five that are exterior, seven that are interior, and will mention the tests that professionals can help you do as well:
1.Porch Pulling Away From Home
The porch pulling away from your home is a sign of ongoing house settling issues. It's most likely that the home’s foundation is settling opposite the front porch, stairs, or patio. As the foundation starts to drop, it drifts away from the porch and causes an obvious crack that you can see between home and porch.
2. Brick And Stonework Cracks
Cracks in brick and stonework are a usual sign indicating house settling issues. It means your house is settling unevenly, more on one side than the other. When settling starts exerting more and more force, you’ll see bricks and stonework on your home crack.
3. Cracked And Leaning Chimney
Take the time to inspect your home's chimney occasionally. A cracked chimney may be an early sign of structural damage. In contrast, the leaning chimney pulling away from the rest of your house is a sign of soil and foundation settling.
4. Gaps In Window And Door Frames
You should look around your windows and doors to see if you can spot gaps in the seams, which usually form only on one side. It's a sign of some warping that is potentially a safety concern and a foundational concern.
5. External Concrete Settling
Concrete slabs may not fit as nicely as they used to, or the concrete looks like it's bowing under its weight or even moving away from other parts of the concrete. It can be a sign of house settling issues.
6. Gaps Between Walls And Floors
It would help if you inspected your house's interior by looking for gaps between walls and floors that indicate warping. When one side of the house starts to sink and the other one doesn't drop as fast, it causes the internal walls to bend, and that's where you can spot these gaps.
7. Odd Wall Cracks
Suppose you notice vertical or horizontal cracks in the drywall throughout your home’s inside and outside. It means the house is settling abnormally.
8. Uneven Floors
Uneven floors are a sign that your house is experiencing settling issues, i.e. where it settles unevenly.
9. Sticking Windows And Doors
Structural issues may prevent your windows and doors from functioning correctly.
10. Cabinets Open On Their Own
Cabinets opening on their own are signs that you should inspect your home’s foundation and fix it.
11. Drywall Nail Pops
If you experience nail pops, it’s because your house is experiencing house settling issues and the structure behind your home is changing.
12. Bowed walls
Bowing of the walls is initially hard to notice. Still, over time, as they bend more and more, you’ll see the curve inward as it becomes more and more apparent.
13. Call-In Professionals To Test For Potential Structural Damage
If you’ve found any of the signs listed above, the best thing you can do to accurately assess the situation and the extent of structural damage to the house is to have professional structural engineers inspect, monitor, and perform tests such as:
- Ultrasonic pulse velocity test
- Penetration resistance (Windsor Probe) test
- Concrete resistivity test
- Impulse response test
- Impact echo test
- Infrared thermography inspection
- Crack monitoring
- Temperature and strain monitoring of mass concrete casting
- Structural instrumentation and monitoring
- Full-scale load test
- A surface penetration radar survey
- Fiberscope inspection
- Sprayed fire-proofing material compatibility test
- Water tightness test on windows, precast panels, curtain walls, etc.
- Examination of structural healthiness after fire incident.
You should never ignore the tell-tale signs that your home is experiencing exterior or interior structural damage. Regularly inspecting your property for these signs and having professionals test and adequately assess the situation is the best way to secure your home is safe for you and your family to enjoy for many years to come.