Why are there gaps between door frames, windows, and/or walls?

They say the home is where the heart is, where we can be the most vulnerable behind closed doors. You can feel the happiest at times with your family, playing board games, or getting ready to walk your dog. There are times when your house can feel empty. More empty than usual. So empty that you see gaps in areas you never noticed before. 

So a question naturally arises: Why are there gaps in my home? 

Now you’re looking for answers and filling in the gaps in your knowledge on the issue. 

Dalinghaus Construction has inspected over ten-thousand homes, having performed over a thousand projects in foundation repair. We are the first to notice the common signs of a failing foundation and report them to you, coming up with solutions to fix your problem. 

Finding gaps is not always due to foundation settlement or heaving 

Organic materials within your home will always experience natural expansion and contraction with changes in moisture. That said it’s unlikely you’ll see massive-sized gaps due to the moisture content in the home. Gaps in window frames and door frames will have to be noticeable and out of square to be a significant issue. 

If you find a single gap in your home next to the upper-right-hand corner of your doorframe, there won’t be a direct correlation to a foundation issue. Finding multiple gaps is what becomes more solid evidence. You notice the space by your window frames and the door frames struggle to bond with your walls, whether physically or emotionally. And are these gaps near each other? Are there gaps in specific areas of the house? 

You might see one area or another with gaps that have nothing to do with your foundation. If you’re seeing multiple areas of your home with an abundance of gaps, your issue might be foundation related. When your home’s foundation settles, the framing of your house is being forced out of the square, creating a bunch of different issues. A part of your home looks like the leaning tower of pizza (which also has major foundation issues).  

When you should inquire about a foundation inspector

As has already been said, finding a single gap isn’t necessarily a foundation issue. Sometimes finding multiple gaps, while concerning, may not be convincing enough to be a problem with your foundation. 

When you should be concerned is when you see other common signs of foundation settlement. You’ll find other signs such as:

  • Drywall cracks
  • Stucco cracks
  • Concrete slab cracks
  • Ceiling cracks
  • Tile cracks
  • Chimney cracks
  • Leaning chimney
  • Sloping floors
  • Doors and windows are hard to open and close
  • Water leaks

If you notice a multitude of these common signs, look into having a foundation inspector come out. Dalinghaus Construction will inspect your home for free. And note we aren’t the only foundation repair company in Southern California and Arizona. We encourage you to find multiple bids and figure out which company will work best for you. 

Other places you can find gaps:

Patios

Your patio moving is more of a sign of lateral movement, or your house moving side to side due to slope-related instances, as opposed to settlement. 

Cabinets

Gaps in cabinets will form along the top and bottom. The room’s framing adjusts as your home settles, but the cabinets stay locked in place. 

Countertops and kitchen islands

You will see gaps formed when the framing of the home shifts, similar to what happens with cabinets.  

Tile in floors

When settling happens, the structure isn’t settling evenly; settling occurs in your home in certain areas. If there’s any part of the interior is affected, it will be the floor. You might not notice these gaps immediately, though something might feel off about your floors, whether it’s the gaps in tile, or your floors starting to feel like a slope you can ski or snowboard on.

Chimneys

Chimneys tend to be heavier and pull away from your home. Sometimes they lean into the house, which is terrifying. Your home is a safe space, but your chimney leaning on it for reassurance isn’t the most optimal plan for anyone’s comfort.  

How bad do gaps have to be to seek help?

It depends; how much are you willing to deal with? If you see more gaps or they become wider over time, you’ll see other things happening. 

Having foundation issues is like having financial issues. Bills need paying, groceries are necessary, and you pay for a roof over your head. But situations can become worse. Emergencies can happen out of nowhere, whether medical or your car needing maintenance after breaking down. If you procrastinate finances, the future can present more stressful situations. The problems pile up to the point where the weight is almost too much to bear. The situation becomes overwhelming. 

The same thing can happen to your foundation. You’ll find gaps, then you’ll eventually start to see cracks. It might not happen immediately, but it will happen. Over time, those issues pile up. The area of your home affected will cause more stress and do more damage. The more damage becomes more expensive to repair, causing you to eventually deal with those financial issues when the repair cost can average $30k. 

Also check out our post: Window and door frames frame cracks

There’s not an exact measurement of when you need to seek help. If you’re seeing more common signs of foundation issues alongside those gaps, the best time to have your foundation inspection would be sooner than later. 

What to look for if gaps aren’t due to the foundation

Check the moisture levels of your home. Moisture is getting in the house from somewhere, causing the natural materials to absorb and expand. Figure out the location the moisture is entering and figure out a solution to mitigate the problem area.

Issues with door and window gaps

Gaps could cause trouble when trying to lock doors or windows. There can be a safety hazard, though this isn’t likely to happen. The circumstance is very situational. 

An increase in the size of gaps can give burglars an extra area to break in. Again, this is very unlikely given how situational the circumstances would have to be, but the larger spaces can give them wiggle room if they tried hard enough. 

If the gaps are large enough, air will enter and escape your home. Heated and conditioned air will escape. With areas of California and Arizona being very hot over summer, keeping that cool air in and the electricity bill down are good incentives to want to address gaps in your home. 

Finally, you don’t want to give room for pests coming into your home. If the weather is too hot or cold on some days, any pests will want to escape to a more controlled environment. They’ll escape by breaking into your home by any means necessary. 

Finding single gaps isn’t an issue in and of itself. The times you need to worry are if you see multiple gaps in certain areas along with other foundation-related issues. If you spot any problems and are concerned, call Dalinghaus Construction for any questions at (877) 360-9227 for any further inquiries, or schedule a free foundation inspection today!

WRITTEN BY

Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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