Common Causes of Commercial Foundation Problems
Foundations need to hold up commercial structures. Ideally, they should stay standing until the building itself collapses, but sadly, that’s often not the case. Many foundations have problems long before they should, and to ensure your foundation is as strong as possible, you should understand the signs that may be indicative of foundation issues. Here are several tell-tale signs of foundation damage every property owner or manager should know.
Exterior Wall & Foundation Cracks
Splits and separations in exterior masonry can be hints of a shifting foundation. Be on the look out for separations or gaps where two walls meet, stair-step-shaped cracks between bricks, and cracks in the bricks themselves.
Frieze & Fascia Gaps
Frieze refers to the area below a cornice, and fascia refers to the vertical frieze, or band, under a roof which forms the surface of a cornice. The fascia is easily visible, while the frieze can be hard to see. If you see visible gaps in these places or in other areas where the roof connects to the exterior walls, you may have issues with your commercial foundation.
If your commercial building experiences subterranean issues like burst pipes under the foundation, that can also be a sign of foundation instability. A shifting foundation can cause massive force against plumbing pipes, causing water damage that can go unnoticed for quite awhile. To be on the safe side, regularly examine your water bill and look for extra or unexplained usage.
Interior Wall & Floor Cracks
Cracks in drywall, molding pulling away from the wall, or cracks that begin at the frames of doors or windows are suggestions that things are moving on your property. In the high-traffic use of a commercial building, this damage can get worse over time, and ideally, you should contact a foundation repair specialist if you see any of these issues.
Sticking Doors & Windows
Doors and windows that don’t close easily are one of the major indicators of foundation damage. Apartment complexes and condominiums, in particular, are plagued with such issues, as they have so many doors.
Warping or Buckling Floors
Another interior sign of foundation damage is issues with your flooring. Keep watch for cracked tiles, peeling linoleum, or warped and buckled wooden floors. These changes are evidence something has changed since the floor was laid. If your flooring is a sealed concrete floor, you should look for new cracks, which have a lighter look than the thinner cosmetic cracks present when the floor was sealed.
If things start sticking, buckling, or cracking in your commercial building, it is likely due to shifting of the foundation. Once things start to go out-of-square with a building, cracks, major wall breaks, separations of walls or roofs, and other foundation failures will continue, and if ignored, the situation can lead to a collapsed building.
Getting Help With Commercial Foundations
Sometimes, the issue is due to the strength of the foundation or the way it was originally installed, but in other cases, the issue is the soil beneath the foundation. If it’s not adequately compacted, the foundation begins to sink. When this occurs, the whole building shifts and settles. If you see any signs that your foundation is in trouble, contact us directly. At Atlas Piers, we have been working with residential and commercial foundations in Atlanta and the surrounding area for over 30 years.