Your foundation or structural base is a vital part of your home. It bears the weight of the structure plus all that’s in it. How long it’ll stand depends on the kind of soil it’s built on. If it’s built on stable soil, the foundation will remain intact for many years. But if it’s built on weak soils, it’s going to sink within a few years.
What Is Foundation Settlement?
Foundation settlement refers to the downward movement or the sinking of the base of a structure. This happens mostly when the underlying soil is shifty or expansive. In both situations, the soil is unable to hold up your home and all its contents.
What Causes the Foundation to Settle?
Far too many homeowners think construction flaws are to blame for their settling foundations. That’s not entirely true. Your foundation is settling because the underlying soils are either expanding or contracting. Such shifts destabilize the foundation and your entire home.
Drying and shrinking soils can also result in settlement. As the soil loses moisture, it shrinks and this creates a void underneath the foundation, which the foundation sinks into. This happens a lot during drier summer months when the soil gives up its moisture.
The other thing that can cause the foundation to settle is the wetting and softening of the soil. Cracks will form on the ground during dry weather. Such crevices will swallow rainwater when there’s a downpour.
With time, the underlying soil will get extremely wet and soft. This wetting can make the soil lose its load-bearing capacity. Let’s not also forget that rainwater can erode the soil, and this can result in voids.
Poor Soil Compaction
Whenever a home is being constructed, trenches have to be dug, backfilled, and compacted properly. If the underlying soil isn’t compacted properly, the weight of your home will compress it, and this will cause your foundation to settle. This can lead to cracks and other structural problems.
What Are the Signs of a Settling Foundation?
Keep an eye out for these four problem signs:
Vertical cracks: As the foundation settles, cracks will appear on your foundation as well as areas such as doors and windows.
Concrete floor cracks: Cracks may also appear on the concrete floor two to three years after home construction.
Sticking windows/doors: Jammed windows and doors are another sign that something is brewing under your home.
Leaning chimney: Another sign of settlement is a chimney that tilts to one side. With time, the chimney may collapse as it pulls away from the foundation.
Types of Foundation Settlement
Let’s look at three types of settlement.
Tipping Settlement: Here, a specific area of a building sinks to a particular depth. The results can be extremely damaging if not catastrophic. Sometimes, the whole building can collapse.
Uniform Settlement: As a result of this type of settlement, a building settles at an uneven rate without cracking. This happens to structures or homes that are built on the same soil layer right up to the foundation depth. You need not worry about uniform settlement as its impact is mild.
Differential Settlement: Here, houses and buildings settle unevenly. Because of the different rates of settlement, cracks may appear in different parts of the building. It’s not unusual for the entire house to collapse.
Possible Solutions for Foundation Settlement
Your local foundation repair contractor in Denver, CO, may recommend these solutions.
Foundation push piers: Also known as resistance piers, push piers are driven into the ground to permanently stabilize and help lift a settling foundation.
Helical piers: Made from steel, helical piers are “screwed” into the ground and down to the bedrock to counter compressive forces that are acting on your foundation. These systems have good load-bearing capacities for lighter structures.
Slab piers: Similar to the other piers, slab piers are installed below troubled soil, where they can provide adequate support specifically for homes with a slab foundation.
For years, Complete Basement Systems has been helping homeowners across Denver, CO, restore their sunken foundations. We use the best piering solutions for lasting results. Contact us to schedule a free foundation inspection and repair quote today.