Solutions to Fixing a Sinking Home Foundation
Often when you hear that a home foundation is sinking, you probably imagine something akin to a sinkhole opening up out of nowhere and swallowing it.
That’s not all that far from the truth actually. As the earth moves, in many cases with the assistance of water, sudden shifts may take place that can cause your home’s foundation to take a downward turn.
Moving earth and water are just a few likely causes of a sinking foundation, but there are other culprits that can claim responsibility, and many different ways to repair and prevent further foundation sinking.
Why Do Foundations Sink?
Poorly Compacted Ground
When a foundation is under construction, the ground beneath it should be firmly compacted. Compacting is basically tamping or flattening the ground as tight as possible to provide a firm and dense surface onto which to lay the foundation. Compacted ground can range anywhere from 3 inches to 2 feet, depending on the structure that’s being built. Regardless of how densely compacted the ground is, there can always be small air bubbles existing in the soil. These air bubbles or pockets, regardless of their size can shift over time, which, in turn, can cause your home to shift or slowly sink.
The dirt surrounding your foundation can expand if it comes in contact with water. This would be large quantities of water, such as spring rainstorms, which are frequent in Central Texas, as well as flooding. If there is far too much water for the ground to absorb, it will navigate to places where it can move, such as you home’s foundation. This is known as hydrostatic pressure, which is a major cause of cracks and leaks in most home foundations, especially those which have basements.
Excessive water, once it comes in contact with your foundation, can greatly affect the dirt around your home. In some case it can completely erode the soil, but it may not be as extreme and can soften it. Regardless of the severity of the water, it has the same end result, eventually leading to the soil unable to withstand the weight of your home foundation.
All different types of weather can cause problems with your foundation over time. Anything ranging from floods, drought, cold temperatures and snow can greatly affect the stability of your house.
On the rare occasion when we get a deep freeze in Austin, once the soil becomes damp frost heaves can form which adds ice to the mix as it forms and helps damage your foundation. Ice can cause the soil below your home to expand, which in turn pushes the foundation upwards and can cause problems with its alignment. Once ice melts, the absence of pressure moves the foundation downward. It should also be noted that flooding can occur with the meting of ice and snow and the addition of spring rainstorms.
While it gets extremely hot and humid in Austin during the summer, a lack of rain can lead to a drought, which can also affect your home foundation. The dryness of the soil can gradually pull dirt away from your foundation, causing it to shift slightly below ground.
Signs that Your Foundation is Sinking
Initially, the signs of a sinking foundation may not be all that noticeable. What may appear to be minor issues such as small cracks, could actually be something more serious.
Be aware of the following issues:
- Foundation cracks, primarily on the outside of your house
- Check doors and windows to see if they stick. This could be a sign of humidity, but it can also be a sign of foundation damage
- Cracks in your interior drywall, primarily ones that appear around doors and windows
These issues can appear depending on if your foundation is no longer level. A slowly sinking foundation can proceed at a very slow rate, so if you notice that your house and especially the floors are not entirely level, your foundation is most likely under tremendous strain.
Most building materials, such as concrete, wood and steel do not have any flexibility. This explains why homes have issues with sticking doors and windows as they are unable to bend to handle any shifts in your home’s structure, and why cracks start to appear in the concrete.
Repairing a Sinking Foundation
One method in repairing a sinking foundation is to install piers, which are steel posts that are mounted into the ground surrounding your home, then securely fastened to your foundation with steel brackets. The piers can hold your foundation in place, therefore preventing it from sinking any further. Piers can also help lift your foundation upward towards its original position.
Other solutions include house leveling on concrete slabs. Depending on the severity of the damage, some of this work may be quite extensive. Excavation work may be needed if slab repair is involved. This is beneficial if your home is experiencing sloping floors, cracks in walls and sticking windows and doors.
If you think that your home’s foundation is sinking and you’re not sure what to do, schedule an appointment with Done Right Foundation Repair.
Since 1998, Done Right Foundation Repair has provided quality foundation repair services in Austin, San Marcos, New Braunfels and the surrounding areas. Our qualified team will examine your foundation for any problems that you may not be aware of, perform a thorough evaluation for safety issues, and repair any small problems before they become large, expensive, and time consuming.