Robby Brown is the founder of Pinnacle Foundation Repaira foundation repair company that has served Texas for over 20 years.
The foundation of a commercial building has an important function: to support significant weight and foot traffic. It is normal for some foundations to sag over time, so minor signs of slow shifting may not warrant a repair. However, if your commercial building foundation fails or shifts fast enough to visibly affect the structure, delaying repairs can accelerate both damage and costs. (Full disclosure: I run a foundation repair business.)
Common Signs of Foundation Problems
Signs of foundation problems in your commercial property include:
• Cracks on the outside.
• Cracks in the interior.
• Nails coming out of plasterboard.
• Doors misaligned.
• Uneven floors.
• Separate door or window frames from the walls.
• Rotten wood in the pier and beams.
• Bouncing floors (meaning that the floors may rot).
• Cracks in tiles.
• Expansion joint separation (visible seams in, for example, a concrete parking lot).
• Step brick cracks.
• Misaligned stones.
There are other, benign reasons for some of these problems. So if you only see one or two in your commercial building, there may not be a problem with your foundation. However, if you see several of these signs or notice that problems are progressing, it’s worth having a foundation expert take a look. By the time you notice the signs of foundation damage, your building’s structure has been compromised.
Six possible problems caused by a shifting base
Commercial foundation repairs are usually less complicated, less expensive, and more effective if the problem is caught early. Here are six potential consequences of waiting to address foundation problems:
1. Plumbing Problems
Many pipes are underground and a shifting foundation can put enormous pressure on the pipes under your foundation. You may not notice broken pipes under a commercial property until the water bill rises or the water leak becomes apparent. The water released from a broken line in the ground supporting your foundation can corrode the ground and exacerbate existing foundation problems.
Adding plumbing repairs to foundation repairs adds up quickly. Addressing foundation problems as soon as you notice the signs will help prevent such a mess from developing.
2. Higher Energy Bills
A well-built building is relatively airtight if you close windows and doors. However, cracks in the structure allow air and moisture to gain access to the interiors where people work, making heating and cooling these spaces longer and more expensive. As a result, foundation problems can lead to higher utility bills.
3. Mold and Mildew Problems
Mold spores are everywhere. Outside they are a essential part of nature’s ability to break down and recycle fallen leaves and other organic matter. Within your commercial property, especially if there is damp wood or other surface on which they can thrive, mold spores are a problem.
Cracks in your foundation let in water and moist air, leaving your property vulnerable to mold and mildew. Over time, mold will propagate, damage wooden posts and beams, and cause health problems for you and your employees.
4. Sagging or leaking roof
A solid foundation provides stability for the rest of your structure. As your foundation problems worsen, your roof becomes fragile.
A leaking roof is usually not the first sign of a foundation problem. By the time the foundation has shifted enough to cause cracks or subsidence in your roof, the problem has likely been neglected for some time. However, avoiding expensive roof repairs is a compelling reason to address foundation problems before they escalate.
5. Insect or Rodent Pests
Faults in your foundation expose your business premises to vermin. Although you may not notice them at first, both insects and rodents multiply quickly. By the time you see the signs of their presence, you’ll probably need an exterminator.
Cost and inconvenience aside, pests can damage the reputation of your property (and that of your business).
6. Decreased Property Value
Because of the many additional structural issues that can cause foundation problems, real estate buyers are wary of investing in a building with existing foundation problems. If they buy it, they may want a discount to cover the risk they take.
While a repaired underwritten foundation is unlikely to affect the value of your property, unaddressed foundation problems are unattractive to buyers. Foundation problems can extend the time of the building on the market and decrease its value.
The sooner the better
Foundation repairs can be expensive. The initial cost can seem heavy, especially when you have to shut down normal business to make the repairs. However, when you wait to deal with a shifting or failing foundation, you leave your property exposed to additional costly problems and damage. As annoying as it is, solving foundation problems in your commercial property quickly will save you money and time in the long run.