Beware of Wet Basement and Foundation Issues Before Buying a Home
"What Warning Signs Should I Look For When Viewing a Home?"
It seems like everyone is buying a new home these days. It's already a stressful enough process, but it's been even worse in 2021. Since we're currently in a "sellers market," buyers are doing anything and everything to get their offer accepted - including waiving inspections.
But you could end up buying a home with major foundation or wet basement issues - causing even more stress to you and your family. It's best to know what you're dealing with before committing to a new home. So here are some tips and warning signs to look out for while searching for your forever home:
✅ Look for moisture in the crawl space
If the crawl space is wet, humid, muddy, or musty - that's not good - and it will cause problems down the road. If you see open crawl space vents outside, you can almost always expect a moist crawl space on the inside (crawl spaces should not be vented). Moisture definitely does not belong down there - it wreaks havoc on the wooden joists by causing mold and rot. The joists will end up sagging, putting the structural integrity of the home at risk, and the mold will cause you and your family major health problems. Luckily, this is definitely a fixable problem - HomeSpec waterproofs and encapsulates crawl spaces all the time. But you might want to avoid homes with wet crawl spaces if you don't feel like dealing with the repairs!
✅ Look for cracks & rod holes in the foundation walls
Whether it's a poured concrete wall or block foundation wall - cracks are never a good sign. If a wall has long horizontal cracks, it could be bowing inward - which is a serious issue that needs to be addressed quickly. Cracks and rod holes also let in water, which can damage furniture or items stored in the basement. If the concrete walls are not exposed, you should definitely have an inspection done to make sure there's nothing going on behind. We have many customers contact us after water leaks into their basement behind a wall panel or drywall.
✅ Look for cracks in upper-level walls
A big sign of a sinking or settling home is cracks in upper-levels of the home. Diagonal cracks extending from the corners of windows and doorways is a big sign. Another sign is sticking doors or windows. These are all easy to spot while viewing a home. Everyone's home settles into the soil around the foundation over time - but some sink more than others due to certain soil conditions, causing an unstable home. This is fixed by installing piers under the foundation to stabilize it and lift it back up.
✅ Look for water damage in the basement
Hopefully the sellers would be smart enough to hide obvious signs of water damage - but still keep a lookout. A rusty or musty odor will be more difficult to hide, though. Also keep an eye out for the loss of lime salt (or white powder on the walls known as efflorescence). The biggest indicator is the discoloration on the walls and floor. If there's large cracks in the basement floor, water can seep through there, too.
If a basement has a sump pump, then you know they have water issues. This isn't always a bad thing though, because at least they already have a sump pump in place. But if it's old, it will need to be replaced eventually. And a full waterproofing system - like an interior drainage system - might be needed.