ckelley116

Fear of my house falling down

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I typically suffer from health anxiety, but every now and then Iatch on to an unrelated fear and obsess over it. Lately I’ve been terrified that my house is going to fall down. My house was built in 1900; we bought it 5 years ago and it passed inspection with no problems. But for some reason, I keep thinking there are undetected foundation problems. I find myself checking the walls and ceilings and each time I find a crack - there are a lot of them, mostly in the plaster ceiling - I go into a panic, positive it’s a sign of foundation damage. Our basement is unfinished and I keep looking for damage in the rocks on the walls or signs that the wood joists are bad. The kitchen floor is uneven, which our inspector noticed and said was fine 5 years ago, but I wonder if he was wrong and we’ve been letting the foundation damage get worse until it either costs tens of thousands of dollars we don’t have to fix, or the house starts to fall apart. For what it’s worth, the house next door was built in 1862 and doesn’t seem to have any problems, but the owner also seems to keep on top of things (more on that below).

I also fear destructive insects, like termites or carpenter ants, damaging the wood inside the house without us seeing it. Every loose or uneven floorboard scares me. I feel like I keep finding new soft or uneven patches of floor I never noticed before. We did discover termites in a tree out front just 5 days ago. The exterminator is coming out tomorrow to do an inspection and I worry he’s going to tell me they’re all over the house (mind you, I’ve never seen any evidence of either termites or carpenter ants inside my house, though everything else likes to come in and make itself at home). 
 

My husband accuses me of catastrophizing - which I do. I freely admit that. But it also means that when something is truly a concern, he still insists I’m overreacting. His response to everything that goes wrong in the house is “well, it’s an old house.” Of course it is, but old houses last long enough to get old because people maintain them. He’s the type who will refuse to pay a plumber to resolve a small issue, instead either coming up with some idiotic “fix” or waiting until a pipe bursts in the wall - so it’s hard to get him on board with hiring someone for even routine house maintenance. I feel like if he was less cheap and more open to this kind of stuff I might not worry so much... but then I’m sure I’d find something else.

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Back in 1988, we bought a new townhouse. One day when it rained heavily, water began to pour out of the foundation in the basement and the builder came and sealed it up and we never had any other issues with it again. In 1995, we bought a rancher that was built in 1959. In June 2017, we had a larger sewer leak in our basement and there was black terrible smelling sewerage in our basement. We had to get it pumped out and had a special sanitizing company come in and clean it up. On top of all of that, our tile floor had asbestos in the glue in some spots, so we had to have an asbestos removal company remove the tile and clean everything up. All a very big headache. 

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I haven’t been able to shake this obsession. I feel like I’m finding new cracks in the ceiling and walls all the time. They’re basically hairline cracks, which from what I understand are mostly benign and cosmetic, but I worry they’re an early  sign of foundation problems. We just had new laminate floors put down and discovered that the load-bearing wall is visibly concave. Not bowed, but curved in. This is likely due to the age of the house or maybe it was never perfectly straight to begin with? There are also two (that I know of) areas on our basement wall that seep water when it rains heavily. It doesn’t pour out, and our basement has never flooded, but it’s definitely detectable on the wall and floor. I’d love to have someone come out and tell us it’s fine and just patch it up, but my husband says I’m panicking for no reason and “basements get wet”. But with all the wood holding our house up, the last thing I want is for it to rot from the moisture. 
 

Marc, thanks for replying! I can sympathize with the sewage problem - we’ve never had it enter the house, but our main sewer line to the street is clay and it backs up a couple of times a year when tree roots get too deep into it, and we have to have someone come out and clear it. That’s something else we’ll have to address sooner than later I suppose.

We have asbestos siding, but strangely I’m not concerned about that at all - the inspector said it was very safe in that form (encapsulated).

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We have a foundation inspector coming out today. He'll be here in a few hours. I've pretty much worked myself into a panic expecting to be told we'll have to replace the entire foundation (which can cost more than $100,000). Obviously that's worst-case scenario and I like to think we'd have more obvious problems if that were the case, but I'm nervous as hell anticipating bad news...

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I have this exact fear.  Foundation issues = money and heartache and stress and more money.  I've been meditating lately (or trying) and the narrator said something that stuck.  When the anxious thought comes, you can label it, either with what it is or how it makes you feel (like "basement foundation - anxiety") but can also tell yourself what you're doing.  There's "planning" which is what you did when you hired an inspector, so done! But also "ruminating" and "speculating" - I find myself speculating a lot!  And when I call it what it is, it helps over time to reduce it and clear it out of my head faster.  I recommend The Worry Trick by David Carbonell.  It has helped me so much redefine my relationship with anxiety and gave me great tools.  Good luck!

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I'll have to check that book out; thank you! I think it's been on my Amazon wish list for a while; I've just never ordered it. I'm definitely deep in the "ruminating" and "speculating" part of it all!

I feel even worse now that the guy has come and gone. When I made the appointment I was told he'd be here for 60-90 minutes, and I expected that in that time he'd do a thorough inspection of the house and would address any concerns I had about wall and ceiling cracks and other things I've noticed that could point to structural problems. Instead, he spent about 10 minutes in our basement and the remaining time trying to sell us a $21,000 waterproofing system. Water wasn't even my main concern - it's the general structural integrity of the existing walls. I know that the water seepage we have needs to be addressed, and this can be done by having a mason come out and repoint the joints. And this isn't to say that waterproofing is a bad idea, but it isn't why I called them. He addressed nothing about my actual concerns and after coming up from the basement, never left the dining room table which is where he sat for almost 2 hours trying to get us to agree to letting them dig up our basement to install a drainage system (which doesn't even address the walls, which is where the very minor water we get enters). Even if he couldn't tell me anything was wrong, he made no suggestions to have a structural engineer or a mason come out. He just kept talking about this waterproofing system which would only serve to conceal the stone-and-mortar walls, leaving the existing mortar - which is already aged and crumbling - to continue degrading behind the insulation barrier he wants us to buy. He also told us that "you can't repair a stone foundation, you can only replace it" which 5 seconds of Googling reveals isn't true.

We didn't commit and have another company coming out tomorrow, and I hope they're a lot less salesy and more concerned with the reason I called. I'm just so discouraged now. 

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It feels so good to discuss your fears and obsessions sans the fear of being judged and labelled crazy. I have had few of them and I can't get over them easily. My biggest issue is that the fan on my ceiling would drop on me and I would be crippled or with a injured face. I also have fears related to termites, insects, and reptiles make me go sleepless. I used to have them a lot in the past and I almost got anxiety. Then I started figuring it out and practiced these tips when having such fears  https://ezcareclinic.com/3-ways-to-deal-with-work-anxiety-according-to-top-18-experts/ 

My biggest tip would be to distract yourself as soon and as much as you can. Start facing these fears and you will surely be able to overcome them soon. :)

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Hi All,

I know this thread is a little aged now, however I am so glad I found it! I have been a diagnosed OCD sufferer for the past 3 years, but have likely had it and not realized for many many more, meaning i have built up an unhealthy relationship with it :(.

I have EXACTLY this worry, which at the moment is at the forefront of my OCD fears as well as many others, but this is the worse one currently. I'm on a mix of antidepressants and antipsychotic meds which help greatly, but don't resolve the issue entirely and I still find I worry repetitively about the cracks in my walls and ceilings. We moved home in June last year and had the most in depth survey carried out (I wouldn't settle for less!) and the few things he did point out, which in reality are not anything to worry about, are major worries to me :(. I also fear that he may have missed something in the survey and actually the house is subsiding, that we have insects in the floor boards and i may fall through them. We have a bit of a condensation problem in our loft where it is so well insulated, which all the houses in the area have and is not a major issue, yet even though i know its not major, i also "know" it is major and that the roof will fall down, costing us hundreds of thousands, mean we are on the streets, my children are without a house and its all my fault, even though it isnt...

I worry about any weed i see in the garden, believing it is Japanese knot weed and going to destroy the house.

The neighbor's across from us just built an illegal loft conversion. It over looks our garden and they have been told to take it down and will likely be forced to, but even if they don't its not a major issue and we can plant a few thick trees to block their view to our garden... however its driving me crazy. I'm absolute that all laws and regulations must be followed exact, so the fact this wasn't done properly is driving me nuts.

I walk around the house feeling the floor moving under my feet because of the insects making them dangerous, but i also know this is all in my mind. I smell severe damp all the time, but know there isn't any.

Lastly, i worry that the people who bought our old house will find subsidence and sue us for not telling them there where issues (because i "knew" it had subsidence) etc.

My life is a constant state of anxiety and upset trapped in my over lasting cycle of OCD. Even sleeping is no escape as i dream about the same issues.

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I am wondering if OP is still checking this forum. I'm in the process of buying a century home (1930's), and I feel EXACTLY the same way. It's like I could have written this. When our offer got accepted, I was absolutely thrilled. When I went on the inspection and walked around with the inspector, I was still starry eyed. No major problems came up. However, once we signed the contract and time went on, I feel like I should have asked more questions about the foundation and crawl space. There were a few cracks on the plaster walls that didn't alarm the inspector, or me, at the time, but now my brain automatically assumes the worst. I have this fear that the entire house is settling/subsiding, and that once I move in I am going to be faced with rotten joists and girders, massive termite damage, cracking walls, or a huge flood in the basement. I cannot shake it at all...and I don't even live there yet. As I've done more research on older homes, I wish I had gotten a structural engineer out there. It's just not something that crossed my mind when we were house hunting, and of course my realtor failed to bring it up as well.

My wife and family literally think I'm nuts on this topic, but are definitely supportive. They're used to it. I do have severe OCD, that I can acknowledge. I, like the OP, latch onto big life events like no other. They fully consume me. Sometimes they just go away, however the worst part is that I am always looking to confirm what I am worried about. Which in turn makes me even more anxious. It's a horribly vicious cycle and I'm scared I'm not going to be able to enjoy my beautiful new home because of this.

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Thank goodness I've found this. 

I made the mistake of buying a big old house which had a history of subsidence (remedied before I purchased) and I'm convinced the house will fall down and be the money pit I can't afford and will be the biggest mistake of my life.. The OCD of checking cracks is terrible and I can't stop myself from doing it. Feeling the floor under my feet and being convinced that this has changed since I last checked is horrible.

My mind instantly jumps to it being a structural nightmare when the cracks are barely visible in some cases. 

I'm in the process of selling the house which I'm sure will fall through due to the issues I believe the house has and I'm already researching how to hand the keys back to my mortgage company and how to best file for bankruptcy.

It's such a reassuring thing to see others share my OCD and fear and a HUGE thanks to anyone who has listed potential treatments (not Googling seems to be an obvious one for me). 

This OCD has ruined homeownership for me and I can't wait to have this millstone off my shoulders. 

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So relieved to know I am not the only one that routinely inspects my walls and FŔEAKS out over hair line cracks.  I bought an older (1988) townhouse after my divorce and like many people here, have done nothing but think I'll be homeless and broke and it will fall down or subside or the roof will cave in the next time it rains.  I live in a town built on clay so weather/rain makes most houses "move" over time  but I still worry cause it's only me on the mortgage now.  No one else.  

Best of luck Jessopmi, hope your sale is smooth and as stressless as they can be.  

To be honest,  it's just nice to know others have the same thoughts as me and I am not alone.  🙂

 

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My house was built in 1959 and has a number of cracks in the basement. We used to live in a townhouse and when we bought it new, there was a problem with the foundation and water started coming into the basement and they had to seal the foundation. I personally, have never heard of a house just falling down out of nowhere. 

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I could have written this post, except my house was built a bit later, in the 1920s. This has all been made worse during Covid when I have been working from home. All I see are the problems. I check the floorboards constantly, which are very creaky, and I'm convinced the foundation is the real problem. I think about the house constantly and have its problems on a constant mental loop. I am also afraid the house will literally fall apart. There are places I don't like to walk in the house and going into the basement nearly gives me a panic attack. I want to move so badly, but it's complicated by needing to get work done on the house and having a husband who has strong hoarding tendencies, making it nearly impossible to get the place ready to show. 

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Just now, OCD in Ohio said:

I could have written this post, except my house was built a bit later, in the 1920s. This has all been made worse during Covid when I have been working from home. All I see are the problems. I check the floorboards constantly, which are very creaky, and I'm convinced the foundation is the real problem. I think about the house constantly and have its problems on a constant mental loop. I am also afraid the house will literally fall apart. There are places I don't like to walk in the house and going into the basement nearly gives me a panic attack. I want to move so badly, but it's complicated by needing to get work done on the house and having a husband who has strong hoarding tendencies, making it nearly impossible to get the place ready to show. 

It seems like the Corona stress fueled the anxiety and finding things to worry about.  That can cause the overwhelming feelings.  All you can do is take things one step at a time.

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Wow. I'm so glad I found this. I live in an upstairs garage apartment. It's not big at all but it's perfect for my husband,my myself and little dog and my cat. Over the last few months I have started to feel bouncy spots in the floor, certain parts of the floor have bubbled up, when you sit on the toilet you can feel a vibration, the ceramic tiles in front of the bathroom sink feel like they're sinking and I swear I can feel the house swaying. My landlord has come out and says he doesn't see any issues. I'm no small fry. I think it's only happening to me because of my weight. I can not even sleep at night because I'm terrified that the floor will collapse. My floor are sloping.That isn't my imagination because my husband agrees. They all sloping towards the center of the apt. The past 10 days things have gotten worse because my husband and I both have been home after testing positive for COVID-19. I've been so sick plus scared to death of the structural integrity of my home. I don't get any sleep. It got so bad for me Tuesday night we packed up our stuff and went to hotel to quarantine. The first night at the hotel I heard the same noise I hear at home. Sounds like an old rocking chair is the best way I can describe it. I don't know if it's my ocd playing tricks on me,if it is my weight or if it's nothing at all. I do know I feel like I'm losing my mind!

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Hi. Mramireez20. Welcome to AC. Swaying, seeing this that are not there, feeling the floor moving and getting the impression that things are closing in on you are all very much symptoms of anxiety. I do suggest you see your GP. Don't be afraid to go, they deal with so many cases of anxiety.

Noises in the ear are another symptom. Ringing, rushing sounds, strange noises are all part of what anxiety can do. In fact, there is very little anxiety can't do!! I suggest that all of us have had different symptoms from time to time and the best advice I can give is to accept the feelings without adding fear to fear.  The more you get in a state about it all the more it will bug you, because you create a ground for it to thrive. I am not minimising how you feel. I do know what it's like. YOU ARE NOT GOING CRAZY. So many with anxiety think that and it is never true. Even chronic anxiety is far from any real mental illness. Let things happen without fear. If you can, and it's not easy. Look at all the information on this site and the posts that have been written over the years. You will find there are many who suffer as you do. You are far from alone.

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On 9/10/2020 at 6:26 AM, ckelley116 said:

I typically suffer from health anxiety, but every now and then Iatch on to an unrelated fear and obsess over it. Lately I’ve been terrified that my house is going to fall down. My house was built in 1900; we bought it 5 years ago and it passed inspection with no problems. But for some reason, I keep thinking there are undetected foundation problems. I find myself checking the walls and ceilings and each time I find a crack - there are a lot of them, mostly in the plaster ceiling - I go into a panic, positive it’s a sign of foundation damage. Our basement is unfinished and I keep looking for damage in the rocks on the walls or signs that the wood joists are bad. The kitchen floor is uneven, which our inspector noticed and said was fine 5 years ago, but I wonder if he was wrong and we’ve been letting the foundation damage get worse until it either costs tens of thousands of dollars we don’t have to fix, or the house starts to fall apart. For what it’s worth, the house next door was built in 1862 and doesn’t seem to have any problems, but the owner also seems to keep on top of things (more on that below).

I also fear destructive insects, like termites or carpenter ants, damaging the wood inside the house without us seeing it. Every loose or uneven floorboard scares me. I feel like I keep finding new soft or uneven patches of floor I never noticed before. We did discover termites in a tree out front just 5 days ago. The exterminator is coming out tomorrow to do an inspection and I worry he’s going to tell me they’re all over the house (mind you, I’ve never seen any evidence of either termites or carpenter ants inside my house, though everything else likes to come in and make itself at home). 
 

My husband accuses me of catastrophizing - which I do. I freely admit that. But it also means that when something is truly a concern, he still insists I’m overreacting. His response to everything that goes wrong in the house is “well, it’s an old house.” Of course it is, but old houses last long enough to get old because people maintain them. He’s the type who will refuse to pay a plumber to resolve a small issue, instead either coming up with some idiotic “fix” or waiting until a pipe bursts in the wall - so it’s hard to get him on board with hiring someone for even routine house maintenance. I feel like if he was less cheap and more open to this kind of stuff I might not worry so much... but then I’m sure I’d find something else.

I am so glad I found your thread, it basically sums up my situation. My parents built our house in 2010 but we never lived in the house for more than 1 or 2 months per year. We were aware that the contactor had done a shabby job on construction. We shifted base back to the house in 2020 carried out some additions and renovations to the space. I am an architect, so I was overlooking the renovations. We were oblivious to cracks and dampness issues until we had to use a hand held demolition hammer for a few days. My mom noticed a hair line crack on the ceiling and brought it to my knowledge. I started going around the house and inspecting every nook for cracks. Suddenly it felt like millions of cracks emerged from nowhere and I convinced myself that its because of the vibrations caused due to the demolition hammer. Even though my mother confirmed that a lot of the cracks that we saw were present even before the renovations began, I blamed myself for the cracks and went into full fledged panic attacks for days. It worsened at nights as I would worry that the wrong choices I made while renovating will lead to the house collapsing. We got the cracks filled and the house painted, but now I am constantly worried if the cracks will reopen.

I would convince myself that there is something fundamentally wrong with the house because of me! May be the foundation cannot carry the extra load, May be the walls are not stacked one on top of other(the house is a solid block load bearing structure). To my horror it did turn out that a small portion of the wall was infact not sitting one on top of the other. Ever since I discovered the cracks, I would wake up at night upon hearing slightest noise.

Mysteriously, almost all the tiles in a bathroom has crazing cracks on them and I have convinced myself that it happened because the walls are crushing. I feel stupid because I am an architect and I am supposed to know better. But since this is my own house, its rather difficult to think straight. I have discussed my concerns with the renovation contractor, he seems to be calm about everything. I feel that he is not understanding me and that he is not good at his job. Sometimes the overanalyzing and overthinking gets so out of control that I forget that even if we had not renovated the house, the cracks and a lot of other issues would still be there.

It is so sad because at this point I have discovered countless flaws in every room of the house, and I can't spend more than 5 minutes in any room without having a panic attack. I too sit and catastrophize. The only place that still gives me a positive vibe is the living room, so I just sit there until its time to got to sleep. When I do have to go to sleep, I refuse to switch on the lights of the room because I don't want to come across new issues even by mistake. What I deduced from many hours of overthinking is that 1) I feel guilty that I made my parents spend a fortune for the renovations and I am not sure if the house will even stand. 2) I don't want any horrible incident to happen while my parents are in the house alone.

I am worried if this is how it is going to be. Am I just going to have panic attacks every time I see a bump on the wall? How do I separate logic from obsessive thoughts? I want to get a structural audit done to the house but I don't think my parents will agree to that kind of expense. 

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It may not be a bad idea to have a consultation with a mental health professional to discuss your worries and concerns. 

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On 9/10/2020 at 1:56 AM, ckelley116 said:

I typically suffer from health anxiety, but every now and then Iatch on to an unrelated fear and obsess over it. Lately I’ve been terrified that my house is going to fall down. My house was built in 1900; we bought it 5 years ago and it passed inspection with no problems. 

Are you worried because your house is old, is that where your fears are coming from? 

My parents' house was built in 1750, and is still standing to this day. It is beautiful. 

My last house was built in 1860 and was fine. My current house was built in 1890 and is fine. And we've just bought a new house that was built in 1910 and its home report listed no problems. it's beautiful 

They really knew how to build houses that last in those days. I wouldn't be so confident about new builds now. 

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I have out of sheer desperation done the worst thing possible and ironically so glad I have. I googled "I keep worrying my house is falling apart" ! Luckily I have found this thread before any horrific builders page with descriptions of all my home woes. I read the OP's post and instantly felt known... It's absolutely comforting and crushing knowing I am not the only one going around my home checking every hairline crack around a door frame and behind a radiator. Our home is UK built 1980's whip up. A lot of "new" building methods were trialled during this period, having come from a "rock" solid 50's home to this one I'm a quaking mess. We have been here for a little over four years now and the house has never really given us any trouble , then literally about two weeks ago I noticed the external render on the back of the external wall was looking a little shabby, cracking in areas (very small) hairline cracks which started my on a hellbent crusade to compare every rendered home in our neighborhood to ours to see how we are "fairing" the good news is it's comparable some are downright auwful others are like new yet the anxiety has not gone. I have spent at least 20 hours over the past week cataloging every tiny crack,chip and bump in each of the rooms and desperately trying to compare them to old family photos from when we moved in. I am a general worrier I accept that I always have been however this wave of downright fear is crippling me. I have never felt so gut wrenchingly scared of my own home for NO obvious reason aside from my own assumptions. I don't see anyway to break this it's just getting worse. As I type this now I am lying flat on my daughter's floor trying to figure out why the MDF sheet floor keeps creaking desperately trying to recall if it has always been this way and why it keeps "popping" when the house is cooling. I know the logical reasons expansion etc I just can't switch the other voice off in my head. At every given moment , small creak, bump etc sheer panic descends. OP of you are here PLEASE confirm everything is ok now and you are happy in the house or even if you packed up and brought a tent this is self destructive torture!

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Welcome to the forum. We live in Baltimore in an old house which was built in 1959. We once had a sewerage leak in our basement. When all of the black sewerage was removed, the floor had to be replaced and it was discovered we had asbestos in the mastic in our basement tile and we had to have a company which specializes in this sore of hazard removal come in and replace the tile. Our house has various cracks and makes various noises. I would not worry about it falling down. If your worry persists, I would seek out a mental health professional to help get your life back on track. 

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