Crew on jobsite in winter installing push pier

Settlement Sinking

A settling foundation often indicates significant damage that must be repaired right away. Learn more about identifying and solving problems related to foundation sinking and settlement.

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Your foundation is perhaps the most important component of your home. It supports your home off the soft ground, keeping it level and waterproof. Over time, however, you might find that your foundation has settled or cracked. This then leads to several issues, mainly frequent flooding in your basement or crawl space, structural damage, and many aspects of your home tilting or becoming uneven. 

No homeowner wants their home to deteriorate, but they may be at a loss as to how to fix a broken foundation. Luckily, Innovative Basement Authority has just the tools and experience necessary to repair any settled or cracked home foundation. 

How does a foundation settle in the first place? What repair solutions does Innovative Basement Authority have to permanently fix your home’s foundation again?

illustration of a settling, sinking foundation structure with a tilting chimney and cracked foundation

How to Spot a Settling Foundation

Most homeowners will pay no attention to if their house is level or not. Indeed, to the untrained eye, it can be difficult to know if your foundation is facing any issues or not. There are several problem signs you can watch out for to know if your foundation is settling. Here are some of the more common signs.  

  • Cracks 

Finding cracks can be quite common if your foundation has settled or cracked at all. You might find cracks along the stairs leading up to your home, in your basement walls and floor, and around your doors and windows. All these cracks might be too small to notice or worry about at first. However, even the smallest cracks have the capacity to expand out and wreak plenty of damage if you are not careful. 

The location of these cracks will also help you realize the extent of damage already done. Cracks along the steps of your outside stairs are quite common in brick and concrete block walls. It is also one of the most surefire signs that your home’s foundation has settled. Wall sections may even start to tilt away from each other to create even more severe foundation displacement. 

Cracks along your concrete slab floor may also be a sign of a settled foundation. Then again, it is possible that your slab floor alone is cracked or settled. This means the floor may be damaged but not the walls of your foundation. 

You may also find cracks along the corners of your doors, windows, and drywall seams in your home. These will be fairly easy to spot. They tend to be much larger in your home’s upper levels than in other places. Applying drywall tape can also be an indicator that your foundation is settling, especially if you notice it becoming loose or ripping. 

Cracks that are wider at the top tend to be signs of advanced foundation settlement, so it is a good idea to repair these as soon as possible.  

  • Leaning or Tilting Chimney 

You might notice your chimney starting to lean or tilt away from your home, giving the impression that it could fall at any moment. This presents possible harm to you, your family, or your neighbors should this occur. Of course, this is just one of the many dangers a separated chimney can cause. 

A leaning chimney allows toxic gases that would otherwise have been cleaned out to permeate throughout your home instead. It also allows for more frequent house fires and similar hazards that could harm you or your family. All in all, a leaning or tilting chimney is not something you want to deal with.  

  • Sticking Doors or Windows 

If you find it much harder to open or close your doors and windows around your home, chances are your home foundation might be shifted, settled, or cracked. Many homeowners might think that this is just the natural result of their home aging. Indeed, this might be the case for some homes. 

However, if you implement non-stick solutions to your doorways and window sills and still find them sticking every once in a while, then the true problem might lie with your foundation. If a foundation becomes uneven, the rest of your home’s infrastructure will likely tilt along with it. Your doors and windows will then become trapped in their doorways and windowsills, thus making them more difficult to open or close. 

  • Uneven Floors 

If your foundation has settled, it is highly likely that your floors will start to become uneven as well. You might notice your lower floors especially dipping in places. You might even find yourself tripping every now and again. While this might not sound that big a deal, it is better to repair this defect right away. Tolerating an uneven floor now might spell major long-term damage to your foundation in the future.

What Causes a Foundation to Settle? 

Because most foundations are made of concrete, many homeowners might falsely assume that nothing can break or move it. The reality is that your foundation is quite vulnerable to too much moisture absorption and will likely settle or crack because of it. Here is how your home’s foundation is most likely to settle. 

  • Clay Bowl Effect  

The soil that supports your foundation will likely be looser than the soil directly underneath. This is due to a common construction defect that occurs when your foundation is first built. Contractors will typically dig a large hole where they plan to place your foundation and basement as a whole. Once each piece is in place, they will then backfill some of the previously dug soil around the foundation as support. This then creates a sort of “clay bowl” around your foundation and basement. 

This soil is not as compact as it once was and will likely never compact the same again. When a huge storm hits your house or the snow around your house melts, this looser soil may wash away along with it. Without proper support, your foundation will then settle or even crack.  

  • Hydrostatic Pressure 

Hydrostatic pressure is far more common in humid or wet climates. This is because the soil surrounding your foundation is more likely to absorb more moisture than it can actually hold. The soil will then take on a lot more weight in water, which will effectively create immense pressure against the foundation. This pressure, known as hydrostatic pressure, may be enough to move your foundation or even crack it entirely. 

Hydrostatic pressure can also take the form of trapped moisture in your concrete foundation cracking it from within. This moisture usually finds its way into the concrete’s pores and settles there until winter. When that water freezes, it expands into ice, which can cause enough internal pressure to shatter the foundation that way as well.

Crew installing push pier

How Can Innovative Basement Authority Fix Your Foundation? 

A cracked or settled foundation might seem like a lost cause. Do not replace your entire foundation just yet. Innovative Basement Authority offers much more affordable repairs in the form of foundation piers. These piers will stabilize and restore your damaged foundation back to its original position, bracing it against anything that tries to move or break it again. 

Each pier system we have is specifically designed to tackle different types of foundation damage. The foundation piers we offer include push piers, helical piers, and slab piers. Let’s take a closer look into each pier below. 

  • Foundation Push Piers  

Foundation push piers are attached directly to your foundation, extending far underneath it to stronger soils that will better support your home as a whole. A section of your foundation’s footing will be exposed and cut to attach each pier’s bracket to it. The tubular pier sections are then hydraulically driven through each bracket until the straight, steel piers find more compact soil to brace itself in. 

Once each push pier has been properly installed, they will immediately work in unison to brace your home’s weight against the stronger soils or bedrock below your home. Your foundation can then be pushed back to its original level position. 

Helical Pier on Concrete
  • Foundation Helical Piers  

Foundation helical piers differ from foundation push piers in that they have helical blades attached to each steel pier. These blades offer the same amount of support as push piers and are installed in similar manners. 

The piers are connected to your foundation through steel brackets secured to the footing then driven directly below it to find more compact soil to root itself in. Each round-shaft helical pier is mechanically advanced, making installation relatively quick and easy. 

The piers will then work together to hold up the weight of your entire home. It will also permanently stabilize and can lift your foundation.  

  • Slab Pier Systems 

The foundation slab pier system will attach to the underside of the slab, which means it will only offer floor support. These piers will not work to stabilize or repair foundation walls or heaving foundations. The straight steel piers will extend from their attached brackets down to the more stable soil below. 

Small holes are drilled through the concrete floor to fit each steel pier. A slab bracket is then assembled beneath the concrete slab to affix each pier into place. Once the piers are hydraulically driven to more solid soil, the weight of your concrete slab is then borne by this soil. The slab can then be lifted back up to a more level position. 

Grout is then pumped underneath the slab to fill out any voids left by this installation process. All the cored holes in the slab are then filled back in with new concrete to maintain a cleaner overall finish.

Settling Foundation

FAQs

The soil supporting your foundation often has an effect on the foundation’s stability. Here is how the type of soil and its overall quality can impact your foundation. 

  • Soil Type  

Some types of soil are more susceptible to damaging your foundation than others. For instance, soils rich in clay and silt content tend to absorb more water, thus creating even more hydrostatic pressure against your foundation. Similarly, clay soils will dry and shrink in hotter weather, which leaves even more gaps for moisture to become trapped and expand outward again in the winter. 

Sandy loam soils, on the other hand, are much more stable. They remain mostly unaffected no matter how much moisture content they take in. Unfortunately, these soils are more likely to erode away over time, making them less sustainable as a long-term solution. 

  • Quality of Soil 

The overall quality of the soil around your home can make or break your foundation’s health—literally. Weaker soils cannot even properly support your foundation, let alone carry the weight of your entire home. 

It is best to contact the foundation experts at Innovative Basement Authority to inspect the soil around your property to be sure. An expert will determine the soil type and its overall quality in their assessment, and recommend the repair solutions that best fit your situation.

Innovative Basement Authority’s solid foundation piers are top-notch repairs that are tough to rival. You might come across other repair methods when researching which one is best for your home. Let’s take a closer look into why some of these other repairs simply do not work out in the long run.  

  • Total Foundation Replacement 

Completely replacing your home’s foundation is expensive, time-consuming, and will oftentimes disrupt your family’s everyday life. Despite its cost, this solution does not even tackle the true cause of its settling—the weaker supporting soils around your foundation. 

The installation process will definitely remove the soil from around your home in order to get at your settled or cracked foundation. However, it does not completely replace it with new, more compact soil, either. Your home will be placed on jacks or other temporary support systems to keep it level off the ground while contractors move your soil away. The foundation walls are then completely removed and replaced with a completely new set of walls. 

While this solution might work for a while, you might find your home having foundation issues again in just a few years’ time. Total concrete foundation replacement does not repair or even address the issues that caused this deterioration in the first place. You will continue to face the same problems over and over again unless you get a more permanent solution. Innovative Basement Authority’s foundation piers will permanently lift and level your home foundation. 

  • Concrete Underpinning  

The soils around your foundation must be excavated before installation of concrete underpinning can begin. Larger concrete footings are then poured and cured right under the existing footings. Instead of replacing the excavated soil with more compact supporting soil, the loose soil is simply backfilled in. Again, this solution does not deign to address what has caused the shifted or settled foundation in the first place. 

Bigger foundation footings are not necessarily more stable. They may even continue to move or damage your foundation even further. This concrete underpinning will not extend out to find more solid soils or bedrock, either. 

It is also good to keep in mind that concrete shrinks as it cures, which eventually creates small gaps between the new and old footings. This ultimately defeats the purpose of adding new footings in the first place. Repairs to these new footings can be expensive, and you will have to keep implementing them if you want your foundation to stay upright. 

  • Concrete Piers  

Like the other foundation pier systems, the supporting soil around your foundation is excavated before installation of concrete piers can begin. The piers are slowly shoved into the soil on top of one another and are held together by a wire. Because of this, the pier might not even be installed straight. Shims are then placed between the top of the uppermost concrete pier and the footing. 

The loose soil is again backfilled instead of replaced or addressed. Concrete will also crack or break under immense pressure or from swift temperature changes. This only makes these piers flimsy, at best. Very few foundation companies will recommend this repair method as a result.

Innovative Basement Authority Can Repair Your Foundation 

If you are having issues with flooded basements or crawl spaces, uneven floors, or cracks along your walls, then your home is facing serious structural damage. This is where Innovative Basement Authority’s foundation piers can help! 

Contact us for a free foundation inspection and quote on any of our pier repair systems today. Our experts can easily identify and repair any structurally unsound foundation so your home will stay standing for generations.

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