How to Spot Structural Damage in Your House

How to Spot Structural Damage in Your House
Photo: Radovan1, Shutterstock

When something around your home looks or feels a little bit off, it could be nothing to worry about at all, and something simple like the house “settling” or “breathing.” But, on the other hand, it could also be something that looks small, but is the sign of a larger problem.

In an article for BobVila.com, Glenda Taylor provides several examples of the latter, and what can be done to fix the issues before they get worse. Here’s how to spot potential structural damage in your house.

A door no longer closes properly

If, at one point, a door in your home used to open and close properly, but doesn’t anymore (i.e. now it sticks, or won’t close all the way), Taylor says it could be an indication that something has shifted in your house, and definitely an indication that it’s time to schedule a home inspection.

“One possible cause could be expansive clay soil that swells when it becomes saturated and puts pressure on the foundation, causing it to shift,” she writes. “Or, it could be the result of normal settling.”

Paint is cracking or peeling

This may seem cosmetic — or a sign that you have to do a better job painting next time — but it could also be caused by excess moisture or a leak in a room, Taylor explains.

A sloping floor

Sometimes, sloping floors are pretty obvious — like if water or any other spilled liquid always runs to the same area and pools there, or there’s so much of a slant that it’s clearly visible. Other times, it’s more subtle, and it’s not until you drop something round, like a marble, and see it roll to one side of the floor that you realise something’s amiss.

“When a formerly level floor develops a slant, it could be a sign that one or more of the joists that support the floor have rotted or broken, causing the floor to settle in that area,” Taylor explains. Either way, she says that if you suspect a slope, it’s time to call a structural engineer to come take a look, and figure out the best way to fix it.

A bunch of small holes in wood or drywall

If you happen to notice a grouping of tiny holes — 0.31 cm in diameter or smaller — on a part of your home made from wood or drywall, this isn’t great. Taylor says that they’re most likely holes that flying termites chew to exit the wood, and possibly a sign of an active infestation. Given the potential for serious structural damage, she says that it’s best to get an exterminator in to inspect right away.

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