The foundation of your property is valuable for every part of its health and wellbeing. A damaged or weak foundation will cause the rest of your property to suffer. The structural integrity of your home depends on how strong your foundation is. From the walls and floors to the windows and doorways, the foundation supports everything. When the foundation is damaged or settled, it can cause severe issues for your property.
One of the most common issues related to a home’s foundation is undeniably foundation settlement. Fortunately, the signs of foundation settlement are easy to recognize. The best way to go about making repairs is to consult with foundation repair experts. Read on to learn about foundation settlement and how you can rectify it.
Do You Have Foundation Settlement?
Foundation settlement is a common phenomenon that occurs when the soil beneath a home shifts. It is a serious problem for any homeowner and often requires swift action. If it is not promptly and properly addressed, it can cause structural damage to your home over time.
Properties with a lot of foundation settlement damage are known to have deep cracks that run from their foundation all the way to their top floors. If left alone, then foundation settlement will eventually lead to the collapse of a property due to pressure.
The causes behind foundation settlement are rarely due to the design of the home itself. The most common causes of foundation settlement have to do with changes that occur to the soils responsible for supporting the foundation and the entire structure.
Like most foundation problems, foundation settlement also is easy to address when it is noticed early. Learning to spot the early signs of foundation settlement in a property is key and something that every homeowner should consider necessary.
The Causes of Foundation Settlement
Is your foundation settling? There are numerous reasons why this is happening. In some cases, it is not something to worry about. On the other hand, if too much settlement is left untreated, it can damage your foundation and the structure of your home.
In this section, we will identify the primary causes of foundation settlement and what they can mean for the future of your property’s foundation.
Old or Poor Foundation Construction
The construction of your foundation can influence settlement. An old concrete foundation may not have the proper supports in place to withstand unexpected soil movements. Brick and stone foundations also might be prone to cracks and breakage over time.
The design of the foundation footings also can lead to foundation settlement. The footings need to be designed and laid down to distribute the soil evenly across weaker soils, thereby reducing the chances of potential foundation settlement.
Improper foundation construction and installation only lead to foundation problems down the road. Conversely, high-quality construction and proper installation ensure that the settlement evenly distributes across the structure.
Extreme Weather Changes
Foundation settlement also can be a result of natural changes in the weather. Heavy rains and storms can oversaturate the soil underneath your home, making it soft and heavy. On the other hand, drought conditions can create gaps in your soil, causing your home to settle into these empty spaces. Freezing conditions also have an impact on the soil. Snow causes soil to expand and brings it closer to the surface.
Soil Condition and Type
Your property’s weight naturally compresses the soil underneath it, forcing the water out and making it dense. This pressure affects your soil’s condition. While you can’t change the type of soil under your property’s foundation, you might be able to notice changes in your soil’s integrity. If that happens, then foundation settlement may be in action.
The type of soil used around and under your foundation plays a significant role. If you use expansive soils, like clay soil, then they will quickly react to water because of their high density. They will expand and contract like sponges. On the other hand, if you have loamy and sandy soils that drain better, they will contract and expand much less than expansive soils.
The amount of moisture in the soil around and under your foundation might also cause foundation settlement. If you look near your foundation’s perimeter, then you will notice that the soil is dry. However, if too much moisture builds up, it will soften and weaken the soil. Suppose there’s a water leak in your home. Water will increase the moisture and soften the soil along your foundation’s footing, causing it to settle.
Vegetation that is in close proximity to your home can also cause foundation settlement. Plants and trees take moisture from the soil, especially during droughts and periods of dry weather that cause the soil to shrink.
Tree roots are the biggest culprits because they are always in search of water. They slowly grow in the soil around and under your home’s foundation. If you have a shallow foundation close to the surface, then you will notice soil dehydration issues. These issues occur because shallow structures are more susceptible to ground movement.
Unfortunately, it can take several decades for a vegetation problem to become apparent. It takes decades for new vegetation and trees to grow, and that is why these types of foundation issues do not display any early signs and do not arise until later on in the property’s life.
Poor Compaction Issues
During foundation construction and installation, contractors should use appropriate equipment to compact or consolidate the fill soil to support the bottom of your foundation. If the fill soil is compacted poorly or not compacted at all, then it can cause improper settlement of the structure above your home’s foundation.
Fill soils that are placed and appropriately compacted are more capable of creating an adequate amount of support for the foundation of your structure. However, it is essential to remember that if these fill soils are not compacted satisfactorily, they can compress under the load of the foundation, causing it to settle and lead to structural problems in the future.
Spotting the Signs of Foundation Settlement
Foundation settlement can take weeks, months, or even years to happen, but as the foundation moves downwards, it develops cracks and causes structural damage to your property. Because of vegetation or weather changes, some signs of settlement may not manifest themselves for several years after your property’s development. If you notice the signs mentioned below, take immediate action.
Sticking Doors and Windows
If you feel that your windows and doors are stuck, then it might be because of the pressure beneath the surface. This is a common sign of settlement in older homes and signifies a moisture issue. If your home is settling, then your doors and windows won’t quite fit within their frames. To ensure they close properly, you need to consider calling your local foundation professionals for their expertise.
Noticeable Foundation Cracks
Some cracks in the foundation are normal, but the ones that grow with time are problematic. If you notice cracks in your foundation, then you need to pay special attention to their location, size, and direction. In most cases, stair-step cracks or vertical cracks in foundation walls are apparent signs of foundation settlement.
Wall cracks that are wider at the top than at the bottom can indicate that some part of your foundation is falling away from the rest. If you notice this problem, then please do not attempt to fill these cracks until you’ve determined if your foundation needs to be stabilized. If you fill the cracks, then it may prevent foundation repair experts in from applying the right solution.
Foundation settlement also can cause your basement or upper floors to become uneven. Uneven floors can indicate many issues, so you must have a professional inspect them.
If the floors on the upper levels of your home are uneven, then it could be because your foundation is settling or the interior columns in your basement or crawl space are shifting. Uneven floors also can result from sagging floor joists, which are very common in homes with dirt crawl spaces.
Cracks in Walls or Above Door and Window Frames
Plaster and drywall cracks are pretty easy to patch, but why do they occur in the first place? In most cases, they occur due to excess moisture. However, they also can indicate foundation problems.
If foundation settlement is the reason for cracks in your walls or above door and window frames, then you could see them reopening after DIY repair attempts. It is best to call a professional to fix the bigger issue at hand.
Sticking Doors and Windows
Sticking doors and windows are very common in older houses. Sometimes they are caused by moisture issues due to high humidity or worn-out internal parts. On the other hand, they also can occur as a result of a settling foundation. A settling foundation causes doors and windows to fall out of place.
For sticking doors and windows, contact a local foundation repair expert. If the problem only happens during some seasons, then it could indicate that the problem is moisture-related and not caused by foundation settlement.
Can You Repair Foundation Settlement?
Yes! There are many different solutions for rectifying foundation settlement. You can utilize them to stabilize and repair your property that has been impacted by foundation settlement and damage.
In almost every case of foundation settlement, the first thing that needs to be done is property stabilization to ensure that the settling process comes to a halt. To do this, you need to call foundation repair professionals with a range of tools designed to help the soil under a home bear the structure’s weight. If your house is sinking, then a foundation repair expert can offer you practical solutions.
The best way to fix a settling foundation is to install foundation piers. The reason foundation piers are highly recommended for structure repairing is because they are strong and can support the weight of a house. If you think about it, then you’ll realize that a house does have a lot of weight. One side of your home can typically start to settle before the other side does. It may be off by as much as four inches. You may notice sloping floors in one area of your house, or you may see small or large cracks in your foundation.
To rectify foundation settlement, a foundation repair company will excavate under the specific areas of your house that are sinking. Then they will place foundation piers directly under the foundation. They will push the piers far enough into the ground so that they remain stable. Your foundation then will rest on top of those piers.
While there are a variety of piers that can be used to repair a settling foundation, the two most popular types are helical piers and push piers. Each of these piers has different benefits, so ask your foundation repair contractor more about them and why they would recommend one as the best fit for your repair needs.
There are mainly two types of foundation settlement, each with their own issues and causes.
Differential Foundation Settlement
Differential settlement is the settlement that occurs at differing rates between several different portions of a property. It results from a difference in loads, soils, or structural systems between parts of a property. In the case of differential settlement, different parts of a property’s structure settle by different amounts.
As a result of differential settlement, your property may become distorted. Your floors may slope, and walls and glass may crack. Your doors and windows also might not work correctly. Differential settlement also might force your property to shift out of plumb, leading to cracks in the foundation. The majority of foundation failures can be attributed to severe differential foundation settlement.
Uniform Foundation Settlement
Uniform foundation settlement occurs when a foundation settles nearly at the same rate throughout all parts of a property. If all parts of a property rest on the same type of soil, then uniform settlement is the most probable type of settlement to take place.
Similarly, when loads on the building and the design of its structural system are uniform throughout, the anticipated settlement would most likely be uniform. Generally, a uniform settlement does not have a lot of detrimental influence on a property’s safety. However, it influences the property’s utility and causes problems such as damaged sewers, poor water supply, and jammed doors and windows.
Your foundation is one of the most important parts of your home. When it gets damaged, it can affect your entire property at an alarming speed. A damaged foundation also can lead to bowing walls, cracks, and even sticking windows and doors. Foundation problems do not resolve themselves–they just get worse with time.
Settlement Can Affect Your Entire House
In addition to cracks in the foundation that let water inside your home, foundation settlement can cause more widespread damage with time. First, it can cause issues with dampness and humidity, allowing water to seep into your home.
As foundation cracks become more severe, they destabilize your foundation, leading to additional problems like sagging floors and bowing walls.
The Damage Gets Worse the Longer It’s Left Alone
Any issue with your foundation is only likely to continue and get worse with time. Foundation issues do not rectify themselves, unlike other problems which may resolve themselves over time. In fact, foundation issues usually grow at an impressive rate.
If your house has foundation issues, then it will never get easier or cheaper for you to deal with them. Unless your foundation is damaged by an unusual event, such as a powerful earthquake, the cause is likely to be in the soil under your structure. Weak and expansive soils do not stop affecting your foundation once the damage sets in. In reality, they have a more pronounced effect on the weak foundation.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible for someone to fix their foundation settlement by themselves. This is a very dangerous process without the right expertise and equipment to repair or halt settlement, along with the damage it has caused. Foundation repair is a specialist task that requires specific tools and skills.
A DIY fix can go awry and cause more damage to your property. If the wrong solution is used that is not suitable for the problem at hand, then further damage is inevitable.
If you find the solution, you should always be aware of any risk of injuring yourself or others. Injuries can happen during excavation, while installing a solution, or while restoring the flooring that sits over the foundation. Hence, it is far better for you to call foundation repair experts , who can take over the project seamlessly and effectively.
Professional Help Is Safer and Guaranteed
Allowing an expert to take care of the settling foundation and the damage it has caused is far better. Besides safety concerns, quality of work is also something you need to consider. Professional repair experts are much more capable of undertaking this kind of intensive work. They can deliver results quickly, safely, and effectively.
You can expect better results when you call for professional help. Besides having the skills and experience needed for foundation repair, professionals also have access to tools, equipment, and products that are not commonly available in the market for the general public. They use industrial and professional-grade products that are more durable, efficient, and have long lifespans. This means that you get better results when a professional does the job.
Fix Foundation Settlement with Help from Your Local Experts
If you have noticed some signs of foundation settlement in your home and are worried the problem might escalate, we suggest you call Foundation Recovery Systems right away! As one of the most respected foundation repair companies covering Kansas City, MO, Moberly, MO, Springfield, MO, St. Louis, MO, and Des Moines, IA, we understand that foundation problems can be daunting for a homeowner. No matter what the problem is or how severe the damage it has caused, our team of highly skilled foundation repair experts can help you find a feasible solution to restore your foundation and structure. Contact us today to schedule your free foundation inspection and repair estimate.