12 Early Warning Signs

“The 12 Early Warning Signs of Foundation Failure and Water Intrusion” is a homeowner education initiative by Vintage Construction Inc. We believe that educated homeowners make the best decisions about the repair and protection of their home.

Foundation failure affects millions of homes across the U.S. Often, the causes are unique to each geographic region. Your home has many ways of “telling you” that foundation and water issues are causing damage to your property. Learn to recognize these 12 Early Warning Signs so that you can protect your home before issues become serious.


1. Fractured Brick
Cracks in brick cladding may indicate a sunken footing. Look for “stair stepping” cracks near windows and doorways, running vertically or diagonally near the ground and foundation corners.


2. Wet Crawl Space
Excessive moisture, staining or standing water in the crawl space is a sign of foundation failure and may cause mold growth and poor indoor air quality.


3. Creaky / Bouncing Floor
Do certain areas of your floor creak? Does the china cabinet rattle? These are signs that your home’s framing may be warped by a shifting foundation or water damage, or may indicate the need for added structural supports.


4. Wet / Damp Basement
Standing water in the basement or even a musty smell is another indicator that potentially harmful water is not draining away from the foundation.


5. Drafty / Poor Indoor Air
Drafty or low quality indoor air may indicate gaps in your home’s insulation, especially around the floor and rim joists. These gaps may lead to an increase in mold and utility costs as unconditioned air is pulled through your basement or crawl space into your living area.


6. Fractured Basement Walls
Expansive soil pressure or lateral earth movement may cause horizontal cracks and moisture intrusion. This may eventually cause the basement wall to bow inward, then fracture and finally collapse.


7. Standing Water
Standing water or “ponding” around the outside of the structure may be caused by improper exterior drainage. This excess water may contribute to severe structural damage and poor indoor air quality.


8. Cracks in Interior or Exterior Concerte
Uneven, sunken concrete slab, garage slab, separation of concrete slabs, steps, patio, or sidewalks all may be signs of volatile soil or settlement and should be repaired before becoming hazardous. This may also cause moisture intrusion leading to rotting thresholds, mold and poor indoor air quality.


9. Malfunctioning Doors or Windows
Doors and windows that stick may indicate the warping or distortion of your home’s frame due to foundation failure and moisture intrusion.


10. Cracked Interior Walls
Vertical cracks in interior sheet rock or plaster, as well as displaced molding or wood trim may indicate a sinking foundation caused by soil-bearing failure. Look for these signs around windows, wall openings and interior corners.


11. Exterior Mildew / Stains
Persistent mildew or staining on exterior walls and siding may indicate insufficient draining of storm water around the structure. Serious structural problems may result, as this water is absorbed into the soil and around the foundation.


12. Itchy Eyes / Runny Nose
Poor indoor air quality resulting from crawl space or basement conditions may cause difficulty breathing and an increase in allergy‐like symptoms include a runny nose, itchy eyes and congestion*.


*As much as 85% of the air you breathe inside your home comes from beneath your home. As foundation settlement causes cracks in your basement or crawl space, water and moisture seeps in, leading to further damage, pest invasion, mold growth and dangerously unsanitary conditions.

Air from this space is then pulled into your living area causing unpleasant odor, difficulty breathing, runny nose, itchy eyes and a host of other allergy­‐like symptoms.

By repairing the root cause of moisture intrusion and creating a sanitary, usable space under your home, you’ll breathe easier, save money on utilities, and may even qualify for a federal tax credit!