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5 foundation problems you can spot from outside your home

5 foundation problems you can spot from outside your home - Image 1

While curb appeal is certainly valuable, the outside of the home can also give clues indicating potential foundation problems. Seemingly small damage on the exterior of the home, such as wall cracks or sinking front steps, can indicate a failing foundation wall below. Here’s what to look for:

Exterior Foundation Wall Cracks

Depending on the style of the home and grading of the land surrounding it, you may not be able to see more than 2-3 feet of the foundation walls from the exterior of the home. However, if you do notice cracks on the exterior foundation wall, pay attention to the pattern and direction as horizontal or diagonal cracks can be a sign of foundation failure.”  Horizontal cracks typically mean a wall is bowing in, while diagonal cracks more often mean there is a settling foundation.

Stair-Step Cracking in Brick Homes

In addition to foundation wall cracks, cracks in a brick exterior wall above the foundation can indicate a problem as well. For homes with brick or stone veneer siding, look for stair-step cracking, typically in the mortar joints of brick walls. Often, the same stair-step cracking pattern can be found in the foundation wall below and will show up on the interior side of the foundation as well – in the basement or crawl space.

A Cracked or Leaning Chimney

A cracked or leaning chimney is another common sign of foundation settlement or structural damage. A gap between the chimney and siding can signal that the foundation below has shifted or that a drainage issue exists. If the problem has existed for a while, there is potential for additional damage through water and insect intrusion. 

Gaps Around Windows and Doors

Gaps above windows and doors or around the garage door can indicate a problem with uneven foundation settlement. While some amount of foundation settlement is normal with the changing soils and moisture levels around your home, uneven foundation settlement can cause structural integrity issues.

Sunken Porches or Stairs

Much like door and window gaps, sinking concrete porch slabs or stairs on the exterior of the home can signal a foundation problem. It’s a sign there’s been a shift in the soils below, and potentially a shift in the foundation wall(s) as well.


If you think your home is showing some of these foundation problem signs, then contact TerraFirma to schedule your free evaluation & estimate!


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TerraFirma Foundation Systems
761 NE Garden Valley Blvd.
Roseburg, OR 97470

TerraFirma Foundation Systems
13110 SW Wall St
Portland, OR 97223

TerraFirma Foundation Systems
10111 S Tacoma Way D5
Tacoma, WA 98499

TerraFirma Foundation Systems
2001 NE 117th ST
Vancouver, WA 98686
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