Crew on jobsite in winter installing push pier

Foundation Repair

Do you know how well your home is standing up to the test of time? Is it strong and sturdy or does it feel like it’s on shaky ground? Whether you interpret this figuratively or literally, it’s so important for your home to have a strong foundation.

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Causes

Whether your home has a slab foundation or concrete block walls in a crawl space or basement, the soil is going to impact your living environment in some way. Here are just a few ways soil affects your home.

Once your home’s foundation was completed, previously excavated dirt is replaced or backfilled around the walls. This “fluffed up” soil is loose, more aerated, and not as dense or tightly packed as undisturbed soil farther away from the house. This looser soil tends to absorb water easier than compacted soil. So, when water collects in the soil immediately surrounding the home it creates a “clay bowl.” The saturated soil expands and puts pressure, known as hydrostatic pressure, on foundation walls. When this constant pressure becomes more than the walls can bear, they will begin to show signs of failure in the form of cracks and inward movement.

It is natural for soil around your home, especially the backfilled soil, to settle into place over time. But it can settle at an angle and slope towards your foundation walls. This can contribute to the clay bowl effect and hydrostatic pressure, as well as the associated water seepage and wall cracks. The soil also could settle unevenly and lead the structure to do the same. When this happens, you’ll see diagonal wall cracks around windows and doors, and these windows and doors could become difficult to operate.

If you have a fireplace, you’ll need to pay close attention to the exterior chimney. A more dramatic sign of foundation problems and settlement is a failing chimney. Chimneys aren’t always built on the same soil as the house, and they could lack proper footing. When the soil underneath the chimney can no longer support the chimney or its weight, the chimney will start to crack and pull away from the rest of the house.

Water can enter through porous block walls and wall cracks, but another way it can seep inside and wreak havoc on your living environment is through open crawl space vents. Any water and moisture in an unsealed dirt crawl space spells trouble in a lot of ways. Something that will take a big hit is your home’s structural support system. Saturated wooden supports can rot and buckle, and metal supports can rust and corrode. This can then cause sagging, soft floors and floor joists, as well as contribute to problems with hardwood flooring. 

Resources

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