Common Signs of Foundation Problems In A Commercial Building

Common Signs of Foundation Problems In A Commercial Building

Posted by Access Doors and Panels on 1st Jul 2020

Common Signs of Foundation Problems In A Commercial Building

Your commercial building is probably one of the most expensive investments that you’ll ever make. That’s why it is a must that you protect it. One common part of a building that doesn’t get much attention is the foundation.

It’s always easy to think that your foundation just “sits there” unaffected by the world around it-- but we’re telling you that isn’t the case. What you don’t know is that a number of forces are at work 24/7 against your commercial property’s foundation and what’s worse is that the signs of a problem aren’t always plain to see. The foundation of your commercial building is essential not only for the stability of your property but also for your business. Imagine having your foundation finally giving out-- you’ll obviously be out of business for some time.

Fortunately, to help you identify potential causes of foundation problems, we compiled these tell-tale signs that may indicate that you require foundation repair service.

1. Exterior Cracks

The usual first signs of foundation failure are cracks. If you find gaps in your foundation or on the brick exterior of your commercial property, it most definitely could indicate that you have a foundation problem. Wall fissures, floor cracks, and even a broken chimney could also mean trouble.

Over time, your structure may experience foundation movement as a result of a variety of conditions and cracks are often caused by a shifting foundation. Often, the cause of this foundation problem is expanding and contracting soils, as well as inclement weather. Always be on the lookout for ‘stair-step’ cracks on bricks or even separation of your window frames from the exterior walls of your building.v

2. Interior Cracks

Have you seen any gaps in the drywall? Are your moldings already separating from the walls? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then your commercial building is in trouble and you might need to call a foundation repair specialist immediately.

For your information, not all cracks are the same. There are two main types of cracks-- vertical and horizontal cracks. When you see vertical cracks, keep in mind that these are usually the direct result of the foundation unevenly settling and these are the more common issues of foundation. On the other hand, horizontal cracks are often caused by localized support failure and may be due to a plumbing problem. Moreover, high-rise buildings such as towers and condominiums often have worse cracks.

3. Foundation Sinking or Settling

Does your office appear to be sinking or having settlement issues? If you see this happening, have your foundation checked out. Settling is another common sign that you may have a foundation dilemma. Over time, it is possible that one side of your commercial building is lower than the other, or you may observe that the center of your building is sinking. If so, you might need to have your foundation lifted and require the installation of interior or exterior foundation piers that are placed around the perimeter of your foundation in order to raise it, or else installed in the interior of the structure.

Foundation movement often leads to settings and impacts houses and commercial buildings in different ways, depending upon what type of foundation you have and how well the construction was done. Unlike pier and beam foundations, slab foundations don’t react to foundation movement in the same way. Also, buildings with basements are a different matter altogether. Regardless, whatever kind of foundation you have, the volume of soil on which it was built on, can absolutely impact how stable the foundation is.

4. Foundation Upheaval

Your commercial building is experiencing a foundation if your slab foundation has moved in an upward direction. This is the opposite of “foundation settling” and this generally affects the perimeter area of a concrete slab foundation. Unfortunately, this can also impact your building’s interior including the hallways, doorways, and other areas.

There are many different causes of foundation upheaval in slab foundations. Some of these causes include soil that expands and contracts, excessive moisture because of rain or under-slab plumbing leaks and frost heave. Moisture is the number one cause of upheaval in slab foundations. Heavy rains and plumbing problems due to under-slab plumbing leaks can also lead to an abundance of trapped moisture beneath your slab. Furthermore, when the soil gets wet and becomes heavy, it can be great enough to force your foundation upwards. When this happens, you might notice that your doors are also sticking and fireplaces, steel columns, have moved upwards too. Likewise, frost heave also commonly causes foundation issues. This is because water increases in volume by 9% when it gets below 32 degrees and freezes. Pressure on your foundation increases and can result in its movement.

5.Exterior Fascia Gaps

Your foundation’s health can also be determined by the visible gaps in the frieze and fascia-- the material that connects your roof the exterior walls-- on your commercial building. These gaps can be signs that your property is settling or reacting to humidity but they could also be signs of a more serious foundation problem.

Buildings that are multi-story such as condominiums and multi-family apartment complexes are particularly prone to this type of separation if there is a shift in the foundation.

6. Doors Won’t Open And Close Properly

If your doors are sticking, it’s usually an indication that there is some sort of problem with your foundation. Interior doors that are affected tend to stick or drag at the top while exterior doors with foundation issues are more likely to appear uneven and drag at the threshold or hang down at the top. For instance, the top right side of the door may be higher on the top right side. When it comes to French doors or other double doors, the doors may not meet in the middle or hang correctly. This issue often affects all kinds of slab and pier and beam foundations. No property is immune from this form of trouble-- it affects both residential and commercial spaces.

7. Plumbing Issues

When it comes to plumbing issues, restaurant and institutional properties are notorious for having them. However, if they become more “subterranean” and less clogged pipes and low pressure, this might already be a sign of a foundation issue.

When plumbing fails beneath your foundation, it compromises the soil supporting your foundation. Similarly, a shifting foundation can exert a massive amount of force against existing plumbing, causing pipes to burst and sometimes can go unnoticed for days. This is why it is important that you always examine your water bill in case there are spikes in usage.

There can be many reasons why plumbing fails. Some of these include the following:

  1. Breakdowns are not fixed in a timely fashion. For instance, you have a leaky faucet that affects your sewage, among other things.
  2. There is a lack of proactive maintenance such as failing to keep your sewer lines or septic tanks clear.
  3. There is excessive water pressure. This can damage your faucets and eventually cause them to begin dripping.
  4. Plumbing failure due to age. If you have fixtures that are too old, you need to replace them as soon as possible.

8. Warping/Sagging/Uneven Floors

When you see cracked ceramic tiles, separated or bunched up linoleum, wooden floors that have warped or buckled, these are all signs that something has changed since installation of your floor. If you have noticed that your floors appear to be sagging or are out of level, or are bowing or dipping, this could mean trouble. Your flooring sits directly on top of your foundation so any sign that your floor is suffering could also mean as a sign of a possible foundation problem.

When foundation issues impact pier and beam foundations, the floors will have a tendency to squeak and sag. When it comes to concrete slabs, the floors are prone to become uneven or out of level. If you don’t know whether your floor is uneven or not, use a golf or tennis ball. The ball will barely move on a level floor. However, if the floor is not level, the ball will roll and the faster it moves, the worse the problem.

9. Counters And Cabinets Separating From The Wall

If you have ever noticed that your kitchen cabinets or countertops seem to be tilting and pulling away from the wall, this can be a sign of a foundation problem. At first, it may appear that they’ve moved a tiny bit and then, the next thing you know is that the gap is already wider. If you have seen something like this, it’s definitely a sign of foundation damage. When your walls aren’t level, cabinets and many other things in your house also cease to be level.


Remember, without a solid foundation, your commercial building will experience a number of problems. And at worst, your property may even collapse. You wouldn’t want that to happen so the best way to avoid it is to always pay attention to your foundation and have it regularly inspected. By regularly scanning for these signs, it will be possible to spot foundation problems in your commercial building early on, leading to just minimal repairs. Take steps to preserve your building and if it need be, have it repaired by a qualified foundation repair contractor.

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1st Jul 2020 Posted by Access Doors and Panels