Each day you open and close doors and windows multiple times. In your home, it may be pretty common for your wood doors to start sticking when the humidity goes up. Commonly, this is what people think causes sticking doors and windows. In some cases, this is true. However, in others, this is far from the true root of the problem. Sometimes, the problem can be with your foundation.
You’ve looked all around the sticking doors and windows and found no signs of anything amiss. No trim has come loose, the door isn’t off its hinges, and the air isn’t even humid–what’s the issue? The issue is that it’s not humidity! In this case, the real problem is due to underlying foundation issues. It’s time to take a look in your basement or crawl space (if you have a slab foundation, we will come back to you!). Head down and look at that space. Do you see a wall that has water damage? One with cracks? Is the wall bowing or leaning? These are the foundation issues that you are looking for.
When a home is built, the foundation is dug out bigger than it will really be so that workers have room to put everything together. However, this disturbs the untouched soil that would have been perfectly compacted over hundreds of years (or more). The soil is backfilled after everything is put in place, but if that soil is not properly compacted, then this is the recipe for disaster. The soil will be looser, and therefore water will very easily be able to permeate it and saturate it. The now heavy soil will push against the foundation and cause pressure on the wall. The pressure can cause cracking, and the cracks can let in water from the soil. Water will further damage the foundation, and the cracks will continue to grow. Over time, the wall will eventually begin to start bowing or leaning. The bowing or leaning walls cause the floor above it (the first floor) to settle in strange ways that cause doors and windows to stick, cracks in the walls, etc. The floor is not supposed to be in that position, and it is protesting by causing other damage. Sticking doors and windows are merely a warning sign of a larger issue.
Another cause of sticking doors and windows could be a settling foundation. In this case, it could also be due to an improperly compacted foundation. However, it could be due to soils that shift like sand or clay. The foundation will gradually shift, and this is the same for slab foundations, and it will cause settling in the above floors. In turn, this causes sticking doors and windows. Trees and other large shrubbery can also stretch their roots into your foundation and cause similar damage. There are several causes of sticking doors and windows, but they usually have to do with unchecked foundation repair issues.
The solution to sticking doors and windows is not to “fix” the sticking doors and windows but instead to fix the underlying foundation repair issue. In this case, the solution is to fix the foundation repair issue of bowing walls, wall cracks, or settling foundation. In each of these cases, the solution will most likely be underpinning.
For bowing walls, this may take the form of wall anchors, helical piers, push piers, or even carbon fiber repair. It can be paired with crack repair to make sure that no more water gets into the crawl space. If water is already in the crawl space and has caused mold, mold remediation would also be necessary to totally resolve the issue. Settling foundations would use solutions like helical piers or push piers. Underpinning systems will usually be a steel pier driven deep into the ground where the soil is stable. It is then attached to a plate on the foundation and the load is transferred to the piers. Which type of underpinning solution is right for your foundation will depend on the exact problem that you’re experiencing.
If you have sticking doors and windows, don’t blame it on the humidity. Give us a call today and get a free estimate to find out for sure what’s going on. Foundation Systems of West Virginia is an expert in the area, and we are happy to help you get your home safe and sound once again. Call today and get started!