The basis of a stable home is your foundation, of course. Even though it’s the most important piece of your home, it’s often the most overlooked by homeowners when it comes to maintenance and repairs. Foundation damage, can certainly happen and it’s crucial that you know what signs to look for, because unnoticed a damaged foundation can lead to a whole host of problems for your home.
All houses can settle with time and that is okay as long as the settlement is minimal and the house settles uniformly. Problems occur when only a part of the house settles or heaves, depending on the clay content of the soil. If one corner of a structure starts to settle and the rest of the house does not, you may see cracks in the interior walls and the exterior walls–the bricks, blocks and siding. You may also see separations in the boards of a hardwood floor or tiles inside the house. Sometimes there may also be separation in the roof as the house begins to pull itself downward.
Common Causes of Foundation Damage
There are many reasons why a structure’s foundation fails, but it ultimately comes down to the simple fact that the underlying soil that the foundation is setting on can no longer support the load. The reasons for settlement are varied, but can usually be narrowed down to the following:
- Soil and water. Too much water can cause the soil to become overly saturated which, over time, dilutes or weakens the soil’s bearing capacity.
- Clay soils, prevalent in over 50 percent of the soils that houses are built on in the United States, creates its own unique problems. Too little water can make a structure’s foundation settle as moisture in the clay soil evaporates, causing the dry clay soil to shrink. As it shrinks, the foundation loses its soil support, causing the structure’s foundation to settle with it. Too much water can cause the clay soil to expand (known as heave), and as the soil moves upward it can literally “lift” the structure in the affected area or areas.
- Occasionally the problem is one of a construction nature. The builder under-engineered the project, resulting in an inferior foundation.
Preventing Foundation Damage
First, make sure your home has proper drainage. A good gutter system and soil with the proper grading that diverts water away from the foundation is a very effective way to prevent foundation failure.
Additionally, if you have completed any remodeling that adds additional weight to a structure’s foundation, you should have an engineer determine if the current foundation can support the new loads that will be transferred to the foundation.
Notice any structural cracks? If so, contact a foundation repair expert as soon as possible. Most cracks are minimal at first, but left unattended they can get worse costing your more in the long run.
If you notice any of these warning signs, give us call. We not only have the tools and expertise to provide foundation repair, but we have a trained team to assist you quickly and efficiently. Call us today or click here for a free quote.