Most homeowners believe that the foundation is meant to last for decades without any maintenance. The thinking goes: Since the foundation is made of sturdy materials and supports the whole house, it is surely designed in such a way to stay intact for a long time. However, the truth is a bit different. There are so many things that can affect your foundation and cause a significant amount of damage. The problem with foundation damage is that it is not as obvious as, for example, roof or window damage. Therefore, a lot of time can pass before you notice that something is wrong, and in the meantime, the problem can escalate. This is why it is important to keep your eyes open for signs of foundation issues.
One of the problems you could experience when it comes to your foundation is settlement. Cracks and deformities can appear due to foundation settlement. While the damage may be minor in the beginning, as time passes, things will become drastically worse. If foundation settlement isn’t addressed as soon as possible, costly repairs might be the only solution. So, what exactly is foundation settlement and how can you fix this problem? Let’s take a look.
What Is Foundation Settlement?
Sometimes soil underneath the home shifts and causes gaps in the ground. When this happens, the foundation is no longer properly supported and begins to weaken and eventually settle into the ground. This can cause serious problems and affect the structural stability of your home.
What Causes Foundation Settlement?
Some homes are not built on stable soils. When the particles in the soil shrink or expand, they leave voids underneath the structure. So, what causes such changes in the ground? Here are several factors that can lead to these changes:
Drying and Shrinking
During long droughts, the soil dries out. When the particles are left without any moisture in them, they shrink and leave gaps in the ground. Such gaps can happen underneath homes that were built on unstable soil and lead to settlement. Therefore, it is important to keep the soil around your home moist at all times. When you water your plants, water the ground as well!
Wetting and Softening
On the other hand, during rainy days soil tends to get saturated. When this happens, soil particles soften and no longer offer stable support to the foundation. Also, water can wash away some of the soil, causing gaps in the ground.
Poor Soil Compaction
Some types of soil are poorly compacted, and they compress under the structure’s weight. Before a building is constructed, builders need to excavate, fill, and level the soil in the construction site. When they compact the soil properly, foundation settlement shouldn’t occur.
Signs of Settlement
Keeping your eyes open for the signs of settlement won’t disrupt your daily routine or take up a lot of your time and yet it can be a lifesaver. Or money-saver, to be exact. Noticing problems when they are still in the early stage can help you solve the issue with only minor repairs. Therefore, pay attention to the most notable signs of settlement:
Foundation cracks: If there are visible cracks along the windows or door openings or anywhere where there is a gap in the foundation walls, you should call the contractors in the Michigan area.
Leaning or tilting chimney: Another way you can notice foundation settlement in time is by paying attention to your chimney. If it is leaning or tilting, you have a problem.
Cracks in the concrete slab floor: If your home was built on a slab, check it for cracks.
Jamming or sticking doors or windows: This is the most obvious sign of settlement. If you are no longer able to open doors and windows smoothly and they always tend to jam, it is time to call the contractors and have them inspect your place.
Types of Foundation Settlement
There are several different types of foundation settlement.
Uniform Settlement: A good thing about uniform settlement is that it doesn’t have a major impact on the house. That’s because the whole foundation settles by the same amount, which does not put a strain on any one part of the house.
Tipping Settlement: With this type, one side of the house settles, or the corner of the house settles into the ground. When this happens, structural stability is compromised, and the building can collapse.
Differential Settlement: This kind of settlement occurs due to the different soil layers in the ground. Since different parts of the house settle at a different rate, cracks can easily appear. If not addressed in time, the problem can escalate and the whole building can collapse.
How to Resolve Foundation Settlement
It is important to fix foundation problems as soon as they occur. However, do not try to repair the damage on your own. Instead, contact professional contractors in your area. Here are some of the foundation piering methods that can be used to solve this problem.
Push piers: Foundation push piers are often used to resolve foundation settlement. These galvanized piers are driven into the ground and are invisible once installed. They are used to permanently stabilize the structure, prevent it from settling again, and can potentially lift the foundation back to its original position. These are often used to stabilize heavier buildings.
Helical piers: These piers are used for lighter structures. They are screwed into the ground and are also used for permanent stabilization and potential lifting and restoration.
Slab piers: For homes that are built on a concrete slab, slab piers are the best solution for this problem. They are installed in deep stable soil to stabilize and possibly lift the foundation.
If you have noticed any signs of foundation settlement, contact experts at FSM and schedule a free inspection. Our professionals will inspect your foundation, detect the problem, and recommend a suitable solution.