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Columns or Piers
Columns are vertical structures that support a portion of the house (although some can be decorative only). Columns are generally rounded with a cap or other adornment at the top and bottom. The term pier, in architecture, refers to a vertical structural support. A column is a pier; so is an arched doorway and a rectangular or square, vertical support.
Since columns and piers are structural elements, they should be checked to make sure they are sound and still capable of holding the weight they were designed to support. Things like water damage, insects and simply age can compromise this function. In addition, slight shifts, common in older homes, can also change the load on the piers, making them less sturdy.