When you have a basement in your house, the walls form a large portion of your home's foundation. If you do not see any cracking or crumbling, you may believe that the walls are solid and sturdy. However, there may be hidden damage that you cannot see, as indicated by subtle signs discussed below.
Gaps Form Around the Floors and Windows
The first sign that your basement's walls have hidden structural damage can be found by looking around the doors and windows. When the foundation is sound, the walls should be flush against the door jambs and window frames.
However, if the foundation has started to shift because of soft ground or crumbling beneath the surface, you may start seeing gaps form around the windows and doors. You may also find that you have trouble opening and closing them without having them stick, since the windows and doors have become misaligned.
Walls Start Bulging
Along with gaps starting to form around your windows and doors, the walls themselves may have started shifting. If they are starting to crumble or crack beneath the surface, the walls might start bulging inward in certain areas. This bulging is due to the soil on the exterior of the foundation pushing in on the weakened walls.
If you stand and look straight at the wall, you may not see any bulges. However, if you lay the side of your head on the surface and look down the wall, you may see what appears to be waves in the walls.
Efflorescence Forms on the Walls
Another sign you should be on the lookout for is the presence of efflorescence on the surfaces of the walls. Efflorescence forms when water pushes through tiny cracks and breaks in the foundation. When the water evaporates it leaves behind salt and mineral deposits that create a white powdery residue.
If you see efflorescence on your walls, this residue is an indicator that you may already have unseen cracks underneath. It can also mean that you already have water damage within the foundation's structure. Eventually, the water can break through the cracks and may start leaking into your basement.
If you find any or all of the signs of hidden foundation damage, you should probably have it inspected to find out its extent. Contact a foundation repair service to examine the walls and discuss your options for fixing any problems and reinforcing your home's foundation.