How to Inspect a Foundation [Spotting Signs of Damage]

July 6, 2023

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Every homeowner should know how to inspect a foundation for signs of damage. Spotting cracks, chips, and other issues early allows you to schedule prompt repairs. In turn, you can keep repair costs low and avoid secondary issues throughout your property.

To inspect a foundation:

  • Walk around your home’s perimeter and look for cracks and bulging.
  • Check for interior and exterior wall and ceiling cracks and sloped floors.
  • Check door and window frames with a carpenter’s level.
  • Look for dampness in basements or rooms with concrete floors.

Obviously, these are just some quick instructions on how to inspect a foundation. Keep reading to find out more about each of these steps and what they mean for your home! Above all, call a foundation repair contractor for any fixes outside your area of expertise.

how to inspect a foundation

How to Inspect a Foundation, Step by Step

Check out each of these steps for inspecting a foundation in greater detail. Then, we’ll discuss some foundation damage signs and how to protect your property as well!

Walk around your home’s perimeter

To inspect a foundation, start by walking around the home’s perimeter. Check exposed foundation walls or blocks for bulging or leaning. These often indicate a weak foundation that’s failing to hold up the property’s weight.

Also, check for cracks, chips, or spalling, or white flaky areas along the foundation surface. Horizontal cracks typically indicate added stress on a foundation. Additionally, cracks larger than 1/4” in length need immediate patching.

Lastly, look for pooling water or overly damp soil close to the foundation. These can indicate broken pipes or damaged sprinkler systems. Foundation concrete absorbs excess moisture, risking cracks and other damage. In turn, you’ll want to address water issues quickly.

Check your home’s interior and exterior surfaces

Homeowners often forget that foundation damage affects interior and exterior walls, ceilings, and floors. As a foundation weakens, a house settles and pulls on solid surfaces. In turn, you’ll want to check interior and exterior building materials as part of your foundation inspection!

First, look for wall cracks, especially around window and door frames. Second, check for cracks along outside walls. Cracks often indicate a soft, weak foundation and a settling house.

Next, note any cracks in ceiling panels and tiles. Also, check for sloped flooring and soft, spongy floorboards under foot. Excessive creaking and groaning when you walk across those floors also indicate damage.

Additionally, note if any surfaces of the home seem out of level. For instance, kitchen and bathroom counters might seem to “dip” slightly. Also, you might notice shelves that never seem to stay level no matter how they’re hung! These can all indicate a damaged foundation needing repairs.

Check door and window frames

As with surfaces around your home, door and window frames also tend to sink with a settling foundation. In turn, it helps to check them when inspecting a foundation! Use a carpenter’s level along the top of doorframes, window frames, and windowsills.

Additionally, note if doors and windows suddenly stick, or you have trouble locking them securely. Interior doors might even swing open on their own. These issues all indicate a foundation out of level that probably needs prompt repairs.

how to inspect a foundation

Look for dampness around the home

Foundation cracks let in dampness that then settles in the basement or on concrete floors. Consequently, it’s vital to check for this issue when inspecting a foundation. Don’t simply clean the problem areas but look for cracks and openings letting in that moisture.

That dampness can mean mold growth behind walls and mildewed carpeting. You might even notice musty smells or a generally damp environment in your home. If there are no plumbing leaks in the home or other such issues, it’s time for a foundation inspection!

Signs of a Faulty Foundation

Learning how to inspect a foundation means knowing the signs that it needs repairs! Check out a few common issues you’ll want to consider during an inspection:

Cracks and chips

Homeowners should remember that when a foundation weakens, the entire structure doesn’t tend to sink. Instead, a home’s weight might start bearing down on one side or the other. This shifting pulls on solid surfaces, risking cracks.

Consequently, it’s vital that you check for cracks, chips, gaps, and similar issues during a foundation inspection. These often appear along walls but can also show up along the subflooring, ceilings, baseboards, and elsewhere.


Those cracks mentioned above let outside moisture into a home. In turn, damaged foundations often mean damp basements or concrete floors. Also, moisture trapped underneath carpeting risks mildew and unpleasant odors.

Mold is also not uncommon in homes with damaged foundations. Drywall, framing, and other building materials absorb that moisture, encouraging mold growth. Also, upholstered furniture can become damp as well as musty and moldy!

Uneven surfaces

Lastly, note that foundation damage often means uneven surfaces throughout your home. Don’t overlook floors, countertops, window ledges, and other areas that seem to “dip.” Outside your home, this unevenness can mean porches and decks pulling away from the house itself.

How Often Should I Inspect My Foundation?

A property owner might inspect their foundation at least annually. Also, check it for damage after a flood or even heavy rains. If you notice moisture inside the home, this often signals cracks and needed repairs!

Lastly, consider a professional inspection at least every three years. A professional can spot damage signs you might overlook and recommend fixes.

Also, a repair contractor can check the property for risks to the foundation. This includes drainage issues, poorly compacted soil, and the like. Prompt repairs, along with needed maintenance, can keep that foundation in good condition for years to come!

A Word From Our Team

Lansing Foundation Repair Experts is happy to help explain how to inspect a foundation. Hopefully you found this information useful! Also, call our foundation repair contractors if you’re in the area and need a FREE repair price quote. We’ll schedule a convenient appointment and answer all your foundation repair questions.

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