A potential foundation problem is always one of the first things savvy Dallas Fort-Worth home buyers look out for while house hunting. The clay soil in North Central Texas contracts and expands depending on the amount of rain the Metroplex receives, and that soil movement can lead to cracks in foundations.

Virtually every home that is more than a few years old will have minor cracks in the foundation. It’s simply the norm for buildings in the Dallas area. Most cracks in slab foundations occur around the home’s edges, and most of these are not going to cause significant problems.

The key is whether the cracks are leading to significant foundation problems that will affect the home later on. According to Home Savers Foundation Repair, a Dallas-based company, there are several warning signs that your foundation may be in need of help.

Sticking windows or doors. Windows that can’t be raised could be a sign that the foundation has shifted. Doors and windows will no longer be square and may not close properly. Check all the door and window frames for cracks.

Cracks in the interior walls and chimney. Inspect all the places where the walls and ceiling meet, looking for cracks. Also take note if there are cracks in a chimney or fireplace.

Popping nails. Nails that pop out of Sheetrock may be another indication that the foundation has shifted. Cracks can cause gypsum board to separate. Can you see daylight around the bottom of the walls in the garage?

Some signs of a foundation that needs repair are evident from the outside. Check to see if the chimney is listing or if there are stair-step cracks in the mortar around bricks. Also notice if there are large cracks around the concrete outside the home. Another indicator can be soil separation around the foundation.

For Homeowners: How to Prevent Problems

Homeowners can prevent foundation problems in a DFW home by keeping the moisture level in the soil around the foundation consistent, according to expert commentary in the Dallas Morning News. That means making sure that no water pools around the foundation because of runoff from gutter downspouts or from soil sloping toward the foundation.

In the summer, it’s important that homeowners not allow the soil around the foundation to get too dry. Many homeowners will water their foundation with a series of soaker hoses during the driest months. The goal is to keep the soil from getting too wet or too dry; that way, you can keep it from expanding and contracting.

Homeowners also need to make sure that tree roots are not damaging the foundation. Trees planted too close to the house will produce a root system that can also crack a foundation. If you have concerns about the roots in your own yard, professionals in Dallas-Fort Worth can do an assessment and suggest solutions.

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