Are your monthly energy bills consistently more expensive than in the same months of the previous year – even though you’ve upgraded to more energy-efficient appliances and rewired the house? Although it might seem strange, the higher cost could be the fault of your home’s foundation.
When a foundation shifts, everything above it also shifts to varying degrees. Some results of the movement might not be immediately noticeable, such as the floor joists moving. However, any movement can set off a domino effect. For example, the foundation shifts, causing the joists to become unlevel, which affects the floor the joists are holding up. This can result in a sagging floor.
Why does a foundation shift? The dirt beneath and around it moves. In the case of new construction, the soil moves after the house is built; essentially, it’s settling and adjusting to accommodate the home’s weight and dimensions. This shifting might cause a few hairline cracks, but they shouldn’t be big enough to let in a significant amount of air.
A shifting foundation often causes more problems than just cracks, from bowed walls and mold to uneven doors and windows throughout the entire house. The cracks you need to worry about are the ones that form as a result of soil saturation. When it rains or snow melts, the water saturates the soil, which then swells, applying pressure to the foundation and basement walls. This may cause cracks. Water pressure may also cause cracks. Water also runs through the soil, creating pockets into which soil moves; this movement can cause the foundation to shift.
There are two main reasons why a shifting foundation can result in higher energy costs: airflow and flooding. When the basement floods, your sump pump should kick on. If it’s constantly running, you’re looking at higher electrical bills. As for airflow, anything that lets air in or out all the time compromises the effectiveness of air conditioning, heating, and insulation. For example, during the winter, a window that doesn’t close flush will let out warm air and let in cold air. This makes your heating system work harder, potentially causing it to run all the time. It’s the same principle with air conditioning: The more it runs, the higher the energy bill is.
Do you have a door that doesn’t close all the way or has a gap at the bottom or top? This can also be the result of a shifting foundation. If it’s winter and you want to close off the room to keep the heat in more trafficked areas, an improper seal will allow the heat to enter the room. This means the furnace has to run longer to maintain your set temperature.
If your basement is freezing in comparison to the rest of the house, you likely have drafts somewhere. Temporary fixes include weatherstripping the windows and attaching door sweeps. However, that doesn’t change the fact the foundation is shifting. To determine if the foundation is the problem, hire a basement and foundation repair company to take a look.
If it does turn out your foundation is the problem, there’s no need to panic. Slabjacking is one option to help level the foundation. The process involves drilling small holes into the floor and injecting an expandable material under the concrete slab. The material fills in any gaps in the soil and provides additional support.
If you live in the Midwest and you’ve noticed your energy bill increasing but can’t figure out why, give Acculevel a call. We can help you determine if the issue is an unlevel foundation. We’ll also fill any cracks that are letting in moisture and cold air. Our staff would be happy to talk you through all the options available to waterproof your home and stabilize your foundation and basement or crawl-space walls. To set up an appointment for a free in-home estimate, call our expert staff at (866) 669-3349 or email us at [email protected].