The United States boasts about 420,000 licensed structural engineers, with the number steadily rising. Structural engineers are the great architects of this expansive terrestrial ball we call earth. It’s because of structural engineers that we have large, lofty skyscrapers, bridges, dams, and other such structures.
However, you don’t need to be building a skyscraper or a dam to need a structural engineer’s help. What you call home was most likely a product of collaborative efforts between structural and civil engineers, plus other experts. Even when the house is complete, you might need a structural engineer somewhere down the line for inspections.
In this piece, we’ll be looking at seven subtle and telltale signs when it’s time to call a structural engineer. They will help you maintain the structural integrity of your home and protect the safety of its occupants. Without further ado, let’s jump straight into it.
Signs to Call a Structural Engineer ASAP
The thrill and excitement of buying your first home shouldn’t blind you from obvious structural issues. Some of these issues include cracks, splits, and sometimes subtle movements. If these issues go unchecked, they could lead to more disastrous and expensive problems in the future.
Acting fast to these problems is one way to ensure your house maintains its structural poise for a good long time. A structural engineer is instrumental in maintaining your home’s structural integrity.
Here are a few signs that it’s time to call your structural engineer.
1. When the Structure Settles
Settlement is when the building’s foundation displaces or sinks because of a variety of reasons. It may be because of a weak foundation or excess load on the building, which makes the foundation sink. Either way, these subtle displacements of the foundation could have catastrophic effects on the building in question.
The most obvious sign of foundation settlement is when brick chunks fall, but that’s not the only sign. Cracks on the wall and windows sticking out are serious signs of settlement that you should never take lightly. Gaps on the roof may be a sign of expansion and contraction of the foundation.
Call a structural engineer whenever you spot any one of the following
- Windows that are sticking out
- Falling chunks of brick every now and then
- Cracks on your walls (small or large)
- Gaps on the roof (somewhat subtle)
Be very cautious with cracks and splits because they may allow moisture seepage from the ground into your home. This can lead to the growth and proliferation of mold, which could present a host of respiratory complications to the building occupants.
Fortunately, you can solve issues with building foundations if you address the issues early enough. Leveling is all it takes to straighten out issues with a sinking foundation. Sometime experts may correct issues with the foundation by slabjacking.
Slabjacking is pumping a special mixture into gaps formed by the sinking foundation. In severe cases, experts may install piles that dig deep beneath the foundation-bearing soil to make the foundation more stable.
2. Deterioration of Balconies and Guard Rails
Balconies deteriorating over time isn’t a sign that you have low-quality balconies or guardrails. It’s normal for guardrails and balconies to decline over time. It’s up to you to ensure that they don’t deteriorate until they become a safety concern.
Your guardrails and experience are prone to a host of structural issues. These issues include fungus, decay, dry rot, and rust, depending on the material. A balcony that slopes the wrong way could also lead to drainage issues.
It’s easy to overlook issues to do with the balcony, but they may morph into very serious issues. The same also applies to guardrails that should comfortably support a specified load amount. When they deteriorate, they are unable to do so, and hence fail.
When it comes to your balconies and guardrails, call your structural engineer whenever you spot the following:-
- Impacts of vandalism
- Rust or decay, especially at the base
- Wear and tear
- Missing segments
The following are reason enough for you to call the structural engineer to handle things out. In most cases, the above are signs of greater underlying problems. The engineer will carry out further inspections to identify any other areas of concern.
3. Insufficient Drainage
Ask any homeowner, and they’ll tell you the same, drainage issues are the absolute worst. That’s because they’re so common, and just when you think you’ve dealt with one, another pops up. Water that stays in the wrong place for a long time could compromise your building’s structural integrity.
There are plenty of scenarios that could lead to drainage issues; these include Clogging within the drainage system, improper sewage disposal, overflowing gutters. With that in mind, you should call your structural engineer as soon as you notice the following:-
- Water stains in the basement
- Staining on the walls
- Your Lawn has puddles or wet spots
- Overflowing gutters
If you notice any one of the following, call your structural engineer soonest before things get out of hand. When water seeps into the foundation, it could greatly compromise its bearing strength. In severe cases, the house might come crumbling down.
4. Leaks in the Foundation
A follow up to our previous point, leaks in the foundation are a serious cause of alarm. These leaks come from insufficient or poor drainage above that trickles down to the foundation. This could lead to a host of problems, which is why you need to call in the right experts whenever:-
- There’s an awful smell coming from the basement
- Your carpets are damp
- Your wooden floor warps
- You can spot mildew growth on your floors and walls
If you get the right people for the job, they’ll first determine the cause of the foundation leak. Next, they’ll gauge the magnitude of the problem after a thorough inspection of the issue. Lastly, they’ll recommend a water-proofing solution or sometimes significant structural alterations to the foundation.
The Faster, the Better
The faster you call a structural engineer when you notice any of the above signs, the better it is for your home. Delaying only worsens the issues and make the repairs much more expensive. This is especially true if you’re having any drainage issues.
Sometimes you don’t even have to spot any of the above signs to call a structural engineer. A periodic home inspection from one is just what you need to keep your home in great shape for decades. For professional, expedient and comprehensive home inspection in Tulsa, contact us today, and we will sort you out.