How to inspect foundation and basement for leaks cracks or signs of repair

If the foundation walls are of solid concrete, they should be examined for cracks; if they are of unit masonry, the joints should be examined to see that no mortar is loose or has fallen out.

The basement floor should be examined for cracks or signs of disintegration, and any evidence of leakage through the walls or the floor should be noted.

Wooden sills on top of the foundation walls should be examined to see that they are sound and that there are no cracks between wall and sills that are not calked to keep out moisture and cold air. There should be firestopping on the sills between the floor joists, fitting snugly, especially around pipe openings, as careless firestopping will allow fire to spread.

If the basement has no ceiling, the joists should be examined for signs of sagging or of warping. These defects often occur because the support or bridging is not adequate. Look for excessive shrinkage in the framing. Girders and beams which support the first floor joists should be examined for settlement, sagging and, if the material is of wood, for shrinkage.

A carpenter’s level placed on the finish flooring of the first floor, both along and across the direction of the floor joists near points of support, should indicate whether column or wall footings have settled or whether there has been shrinkage in girders.Settlement, sagging, or shrinkage of floor supports may distort the shape of door frames in partitions and prevent proper closing of the doors.

Treads and stringers of basement steps should be examined to determine that they are sound and securely fastened. Basement steps should have at least one handrail that is solidly fastened. The steps should be well lighted and should never be used as a catch-all or place for storage.

Coal bins and other built-in storage spaces should be examined for broken or loose planks or damaged framing. Check for signs of damage in posts, sills, joists, and other woodwork caused by termites or other destructive insects. Look also for evidence of decay from dry-rot, especially in sills and at ends of. joists adjoining masonry.

Make sure that all exposed water pipes are protected from freezing, especially if located under a porch or in some other unheated space.

If there are floor drains in the basement or garage, see that there is sufficient water in them to maintain a seal in the traps.