What are the signs that my house is settling?

Your home will tell you if it’s settling and needs attention. Here’s where to look for the signs:

Exterior
  1. When you open and close the front and back doors, they hit the door jamb (the part of the door frame where the latch usually is) instead of moving smoothly into place.
  2. Gaps at the corner of fascia trim (the flat, horizontal board that encloses the overhang under the eave).
  3. Diagonal cracks in the wall at the corners of doors and windows
  4. Gaps between the garage door and the pavement on either side of the garage door.
  5. Sliding windows that are hard to open and close—but didn’t used to be.
  6. Cracks in bricks and mortar or stucco. Simple cracks that follow the pattern of the block underneath are normal, but cracks that cut straight through the blocks are a serious issue.

Interior   
  1. Floors that aren’t level.
  2. Gaps between the carpet and walls or cracks in the floor tile. (Note that if the crack follows the grout lines in your tile, chances are this problem is grout-related rather than structural.)
  3. Large cracks in the concrete slab
  4. Gaps above kitchen cabinets
  5. Gaps between walls and the frames of your doors and windows.
  6. Cabinet doors that will not stay shut
  7. Diagonal cracks in the wall at corners of doors and windows
  8. Curling and tearing of existing sheetrock repairs
  9. Leaks and cracks in and around the fireplace
  10. Wrinkled wallpaper or paint.

A tip: Moisture from an evaporative cooler, which adds moisture to the indoor air, can cause a wood-framed door or window to warp, swell and stick. Don’t take this as a symptom of a foundation problem. If you have an evaporative cooler and find no other signs of settling, run your air conditioner for a few weeks to see if the doors and windows straighten out. Or wait until the cool season, when your cooler isn’t running. If the doors and windows don’t straighten out within three to four weeks, call a foundation specialist to learn if the problem is a signal that your foundation is settling.

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Rosie and Romey Romero, Every Arizona Homeowners Best Friend
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