Signs of movement in the foundation of a house

Updated February 21, 2017

Homeowners who notice a shifting foundation have a very serious problem on their hands. Moving foundations can put the home's structural integrity at risk and drain any value the home holds. Moving foundations can be caused by a number of factors, including shoddy craftsmanship, poor maintenance, or by nature, such as a previous flood or earthquake. Look both inside and outside for signs that your home's foundation is moving.

Foundation Cracks

If it is accessible, the foundation itself can provide a clear guideline for signs of movement. Look at the foundation for signs of cracks or missing pieces. If you never observed these things before, but see them now, there is a good chance your home is shifting.


Your home's windows also provide clues about a moving foundation. Look in the corners of window frames for cracks. Often, moving foundations will create spider cracks that jut out from the corner. Be sure to check both the inside and outside window frames for these signs. Also, test the windows by opening and closing them. Windows that suddenly stick where no problem had existed previously can point to a moving foundation. Observe the windows both open and closed for signs that they are uneven. Shifting foundations can make the window appear crooked when open or not allow it to shut evenly.


Doors' functionality and appearance provide similar insights as windows for signs that a home's foundation is moving. Swing the door open and shut to check for sudden stickiness. Look at the door in both the open and closed position for signs of gaps or unevenness not previously present.


Your walls hold additional information about a moving foundation. Look for signs of leaning, tilting, buckling and bowing. Get onto the floor to look carefully at where the walls and floor meet. Any separation signals a moving foundation. It is best to examine walls both inside and out and on all levels of your home. One floor or area may show more damage, depending on the direction and extent of the foundation's movement.


In addition to cracks appearing where the floor and walls meet, floors may display other cracks that could signal a moving foundation. Look for long jagged cracks in your flooring. Also, monitor for signs of buckling or sudden sloping, both of which point to a moving foundation.

Exterior Signs

Walk around your home, observing the ground for soil that pulls away from the home, and water gathering near the foundation. Look up to examine the walls and chimney. Look for signs of large cracks, shifted bricks, gaps around doors and windows, and separated siding. Observe the chimney from up close and from a distance to gauge whether it appears to be pulling away from the home. Any of these observations can mean your home's foundation is moving.

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About the Author

Tallulah Philange has worked as a journalist since 2003. Her work has appeared in the "Princeton (N.J.) Packet," "Destinations" magazine and in higher education publications. She also has edited and produced online content for those publications. Philange holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from American University and a Master of Arts in communication, culture and technology from Georgetown University.