Foundation Issue Vs. House Settling

How to Tell the Difference Between a Foundation Issue and the House Settling?


One of the most common masonry questions asked is how you can tell the difference between a foundation issue and the house simply settling. On the surface they look similar, but they actually have many differences that you can learn to spot yourself. This will help give you peace of mind and let you know when it is time to call in a mason to fix a foundation issue you may have.

Signs of a House Settling

All houses settle over time, without exceptions. House settling is caused by the weight of the house sinking into the ground around it. A properly laid concrete foundation helps slow down this process and keeps the stability in check, but it can only delay the inevitable, not prevent it.

One of the key things to understand about a house settling is that it is very gradual. That means that any brick cracking that is caused by a house settling will appear and grow in size and length very slowly. If a brick crack appears suddenly or if it grows very fast, that would likely be a sign of a foundation issue in Rhode Island.

House settling isn’t something to be ignored, however. While it is not as serious as a foundation issue it can still cause its own share of problems.

Common signs of a house settling include step cracks (in which brick cracks are shaped or angled like a staircase), jamming windows or doors, a cracked or tilted chimney and gaps in-between bricks or stone.

The Signs of a Foundation Issue

For better or for worse, noticing the signs of a foundation issue is easier than the signs of a house settling. These signs are often just more severe versions of house settling symptoms.

If your floor begins to become uneven or is dipping in some places then this is very likely a foundation issue. No matter how much your house settles, it will probably never impact the floor like this.

Similarly, if your walls start to become uneven or are no longer level then this is a sign of a major foundation issue. You’ll often see this problem coincide with doors, windows or cabinets that are becoming uneven or jammed near the top.

A classic sign of a foundation issue is large cracks. What separates them from the cracks associated with a settling house is that they are much larger than the 1/16th inch hairline cracks or step cracks that are common in older homes. If these cracks are deeper, longer and are horizontal rather than vertical then you likely have a foundation issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Another serious sign of foundation issues is mold, mildew or an unexplained dampness appearing in a basement room or crawl space. While mold can come from many sources, there is a good chance that a foundation issue is related to a leak somewhere. Leaks and mold can cause some pretty bad fractures in your home, which can weaken your foundation faster than you might expect.

Contact Set In Stone for any Foundation Related Needs

Can’t tell if your house has a foundation issue in Rhode Island or is just settling? Need an expert mason to assess any damage that’s already been done? Get in touch with us at Set In Stone and we’ll have your home back in shape in no time.