Foundation Heave

Foundation heave is caused by soil that swells due to excessive moisture or frost.


You’ve probably heard of foundation settlement — the soil beneath a home shrinks, compacts or washes away, and the foundation sinks. But there’s another foundation issue that can be just as destructive. It’s called foundation heave, and it’s caused by soil that swells due to excessive moisture or frost. Foundation heave is more common for homes with shallow footings and lightly loaded footings because there is less structural weight and soil load to resist the upwards forces exerted by the expanding soil. However, in certain cases, foundation heave can affect other types of homes too. Frost heave most often affects shallow footings and slabs beneath unheated areas of the home.

Expansive Soils

Certain soils — particularly clays — have the potential to expand significantly when they come into contact with excess moisture. As this soil expands, it exerts force upward underneath your home’s foundation. This can force the home upward in places, while it remains stationary in others. This causes cracks in the foundation to appear. Though your home can tolerate some movement due to the forces of soil expansion, if excessive moisture is present — either from weather or plumbing leaks beneath your slab — the expansion it causes can exceed the structural tolerance of your foundation.

Frost Heave

As with expansive soils, the damage caused by frost heave is due to the expansion of the soil underneath your home. In this case, however, the expansion is caused by water expanding as it freezes. As the soil expands, it forces the structure above it upward, causing stress within the structure, which in turn causes wall cracking and other symptoms similar to those caused by settlement.

Signs of Foundation Heave

The most common sign of foundation heave is cracking in interior walls. This can even occur several floors above the foundation. Other signs include cracks in outside walls, cracks in the floor slab and displaced or tilting slab sections.

Diagnosing and Fixing the Problem

Foundation Recovery Systems Certified Field Inspectors are trained to expertly diagnose foundation problems, including upheaval caused by moisture or frost. They use highly specialized equipment that allows them to develop a solution tailored to your home’s unique needs. By the time the inspection is over, you’ll know exactly what caused the problem, exactly what it will take to fix it permanently and exactly how much it will cost to do so.

Once a solution has been customized for your home, we pick a date for the job. At that time, a highly trained production crew will install the solution, leaving your home fixed and protected for future generations — restoring its value, improving your family’s quality of life and giving you lasting peace of mind.

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