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Does My House Have Structural Problems?

If you’ve been in your home for a couple years and noticed cracks or unlevel floors or ceiling, there may be a possibility your home has structural problems. The question is, is this a structural issue or a foundation issue? It’s important when you notice these signs to know what further actions to take and how quick  to address these issues based on their severity.  And you are at the right place!


Arizona Foundation Solutions has been repairing foundations since 1988. Founded by Bob Brown, Arizona Foundation Solutions is the only company in Arizona that has in-house engineers that have the tools and knowledge to identify the severity of a foundation. We want you to thoroughly understand the difference between structural issues based on your home’s symptoms. 


In the blog we are going to review types of damages that classify as structural issues, the causes of these issues, and the types of companies to contact to investigate the problem further, take some action and get a second opinion.


Top 4 Types of Structural Problems


The most common problems of a home’s structure are wall cracks and uneven gaps between doors and windows. Let’s explore the different types of foundation & structural issues and what each of them mean. Identifying these issues can help prevent serious and urgent repairs. If left untreated, some of the issues below can have dangerous implications for safety and reliable foundation.


Structural Problem 1: Exterior/Interior Wall Cracks

 If you start to notice that there are tiny cracks on the ceiling, walls, or flooring, the majority of the time it may not be a serious issue in the immediate, but it is good to know what each type of crack may mean for you as a homeowner.


The severity of foundation cracks is one of the most crucial factors to understand. A foundation fracture is large enough to require repair if a dime can fit inside of it. If the foundation cracks you've discovered continue to spread out over time, there's an indication that you need a repair. This suggests systemic issues that need to be investigated. Here are the five types of cracks we will identify to help define your issue.


1. Vertical Wall Cracks: 

The least serious and simplest to fix cracks are typically those that run vertically up and down your walls and/or foundation. As concrete shrinkage is the most frequent cause, they are also known as shrinkage cracks and are most likely caused by structural issues.


2. Horizontal Wall Cracks

One of the most serious sorts of cracks your home can have is one that runs horizontally across the foundation and/or walls. They point to a serious problem with the integrity of your foundation that needs to be investigated.


The majority of horizontal cracks are brought on by excessive outside water pressure. It may have an effect on the stability of your foundation in addition to other pressures like soil movement.


A foundation slab with a horizontal crack in it is one of the most dangerous kinds of horizontal cracks. They frequently grow and damage the slab itself, possibly leading to its collapse.

Horizontal cracks have the potential to cause major problems, such as complete foundation failure. They typically need expert assistance to be repaired for this reason. For expert assistance, feel free to schedule an appointment with Arizona Foundation Solutions here.


3. Cracks in Stucco

Cracks in stucco are practically inevitable. Despite being a long-lasting siding material, stucco is rather hard and brittle due to its cement-based makeup. It is therefore unable to account for structural movement or the expansion and contraction of various construction materials.


4. A crack caused by a wall that’s separating from the ceiling or floor 

Cracks in the ceiling can be caused by two things; settlement or structural damage. In order to identify which two might be the issue, it is good to consider the following factors:.

  • Settlement issues due to the age of the home 
  • The soil underneath the home was not properly compacted. 

Structural Issues can be caused by moisture damage, drywall not being properly installed, or the floor ceiling being too heavy to withhold any weight in the attic. 


5. Concrete Step Cracks

Concrete contains water when it is still in its plastic condition. Large spaces are left in between the solid particles when the water eventually exits the slab. The concrete is becoming weaker and more prone to cracking by these voids.


On the other hand, due to weather conditions, concrete expands with heat. As the concrete expands, it pushes against anything in its way, such as an adjacent slab.


Structural Problem 2: Sloping Floors

Floors start to slope for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, ground tilt is the result of natural forces moving the house over time, water damage, loss of structural integrity of windows, or imperfect construction of the original foundation of the house. These various issues can cause your floor to start tilting, indicating that something is wrong with your home.


As your home ages, it will begin to settle. This could mean that the foundation could start sinking which is common for every new build. When the home is built, contractors take into consideration compacting the soil the structure is built on and leave room for the home’s structure to be flexible.


Structural Problem 3: Foundation Heave

Heave is the upward movement of a foundation or slab caused by swelling or expansion of clay soil due to increased moisture. Heave can be identified by the undulations, or wave appearance, in the foundation, which is often a problem in slabs because the weight of the house rests well on the foundation. Lifting of the structure usually becomes apparent in the first few years after a house is built, unless there is a prolonged drought.


Heave can be caused simply when a hole is dug for a new house. In many cases, top layer of soil is often dry or the pit in the ground is left open, causing the soil to dry out. After the house is built, the moisture content of the dry soil under the interior panels increases. As the moisture increases, the clayey soil expands and puts pressure on the floor slab. The bottom plate attempts to accommodate this expansion by pushing up and cracking. To learn more about heave, watch this video:



Structural Problem 4: Sticky Doors & Windows

Doors and windows sticking together are mostly caused by weather moisture or foundation problems (sinking or lifting with extensive soil). When damp, moisture penetrates the wood, causing it to expand and buckle against the frame. If it is a foundation problem, the vast amount of soil puts too much pressure on the ground and the pressure is transmitted through the foundation to the home’s framed structure.


How do I decide if I need Foundation Repair?

What’s Next? After analyzing your problem, by reading this article you may have a better understanding of the type of issues and how to identify a structural issue versus a foundation issue. In addition, you will know the 4 common types of issues that may or may not be mistaken as structural problems.

If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in How Much Do Foundation Repairs Cost?

Your home is your haven. It wishes for love from time to time. Handling home foundation problems as they arrive is necessary, so that you can get lower back to the matters that honestly matter—like having bbqs with the family. Use the guidelines above to find the necessary contractor for your home’s care.


If you think you may have a foundation problem, go to or give us a call at 602-470-1311 for a FREE initial inspection.