Total Home Inspections News

6 December 2021

Structural Damage: Top 5 Signs To Look For

All proud homeowners want their property to feel safe and secure, after all, they’re our castles! So, it can become quite stressful when signs of structural damage start popping up. There are a plethora of potential issues that can arise for homeowners in Perth, from pest infestations to cracked walls or foundations. If you find yourself in this situation it’s important to seek the expertise of a building inspections professional, such as Total Home Inspections so that we can fully assess the extent of the potential structural damage.

As always, early identification can minimise the damage… and the costs involved. With this in mind, we’ve outlined the top 5 signs of structural damage so you can hopefully identify any problems before they become more serious.

Termite Activity

A colony of termites in your home can cause widespread structural damage. The pests feed on the internal structures, including beams, posts, and wall studs., ceiling joists and more, causing significant structural damage to your house over time.

Subterranean termites live and travel in soil because of the moisture. They enter a home from the ground up, usually through the foundation. A large colony can create cracks in the foundation of a home, causing significant damage.

It’s easy to mistake termite-induced structural damage, such as sagging ceilings and wall cracking, for normal movement. Areas in your home where moisture is more prominent attract termites first. That’s why most homeowners notice the most physical damage in their bathrooms.  In severe cases where termites go undetected for extended periods, the insects create an unsafe and unliveable home.

Rotting Timber

Timber is a strong and durable material that can last several lifetimes, but it needs to be protected from the elements to ensure that it doesn’t decay prematurely. Timber decay (rot) is a biological attack within the wood which is caused by certain species of fungi. The fungi can lie dormant within the timber for years without causing issues until the right conditions present themselves. There are 3 thing fungi need to thrive, oxygen, moisture and nutrients, with moisture being the critical component. As long as moisture is not present in the timber, then any fungi will remain dormant, even when oxygen and the nutrients they require are abundant. So, it’s critical to keep your home well ventilated and moisture free.

Roof Sagging & Persistent Leaks

Depending on what roof cladding you have, it’s generally designed to last for at least 30 years before requiring replacement. If your roof is sagging or leaking before reaching the end of its life cycle, there could be problems caused by timber frame movement, weather-induced damage, or lack of sufficient maintenance. Sagging or uneven roof lines are usually the first indication that there is an issue with the roofs structure. This could have been caused by the removal of load bearing walls during a renovation, termite activity, incorrect sizing of framing timbers or even roof leaks which have damaged framing timber over time.

Ensuring roof leaks are repaired promptly is vital, as the water may cause not only direct damage to internal structures such as ceilings but also long-term damage by activating the dreaded wood rot in the timber supporting your roof resulting in serious and costly damage.

Unlevel Floors

With time, many building foundations sink due to the soil moisture or the terrain type that the building has been constructed on. The more serious causes are usually caused by improper construction and/or settling foundations, which requires the expertise of a structural engineer to evaluate the issue. Other causes for uneven floors include cracked floor joists, termite damage, and inadequate sub-floor supports. There also could be other environmental reasons, such as floods or heavy rainfall.

Cracks In Walls and Ceilings

Cracks can appear on your walls or ceilings for a variety of reasons, so it’s a good idea to know the actual cause first before you start worrying about what to do.  Not all wall and ceiling cracks are indicative of structural damage, but it’s important to keep an eye on them to see if they develop into something problematic. If you notice a small crack, you could mark the area with a pencil, take a measurement using a ruler, and mark the date when you first spotted the flaw to see if the problem is growing. This information could also be useful to any contractors you use in future to fix the problem. If the crack is large or increasing in size rapidly, you should seek the expertise of a professional sooner to stop the damage developing.

If any of these signs are noticed, they should be repaired sooner rather than later. It’s recommended to have a Building Inspection conducted to investigate the cause of the problems and to ensure there are no other issues. Once this is completed, repairs will need to be carried out to prevent further deterioration.