Foundation settling happens in all types of home foundations, from slabs to pier and beam foundations to homes with full basements. Soil conditions often cause foundation settlement. Tree root intrusion and structural problems with footings or piers also can contribute to foundation settlement.
Soil is affected by seasonal changes and too much or too little water. In areas where temperatures dip below freezing, frost heave affects the soil. With frost heave, soil exerts pressure onto a house foundation in a cycle of heave and settling. Areas with expansive clay soils, such as Wichita Kansas, Houston Texas, Colorado Springs Colorado, Birmingham Alabama and Little Rock Arkansas suffer from a similar soil problem.
Expansive clay soils hold water. The soil’s clay minerals attract water molecules. Over-saturated clay soils swell or expand and heave upward toward the house foundation. As the soil dries, it shrinks and the foundation settles. Expansive soils sometimes are called shrink and swell soils because of this phenomenon.
A home shaded by large, beautiful trees enjoys a respite from the sun’s harsh rays in the summer, but also may have unseen problems caused by the trees' roots. The roots from large trees, even trees planted away from the home, can stretch and reach under the house foundation. Tree roots absorb water from the soil – one large tree can absorb as much as 100 gallons of water daily. When that amount of moisture is leeched from the foundation soil, the soil dries and shrinks. Foundation soil shrinkage can cause settling of the house foundation.
Tree roots sometimes cause cracks in plumbing located underneath slab foundations. Water leaks from the cracked pipes and creates standing water under the house. The water can contribute to crawl space moisture, mold growth and other issues within the house. It also will over-saturate the soil, causing expansion, contraction and foundation movement as a result.
Sometimes only part of the foundation settles. This is called differential settlement. Cracks in the foundation shaped like stair steps may be an indication of differential settlement. Foundation leveling can be employed to repair differential settlement and other foundation settling.
Olshan offers solutions for your foundation settlement problems. These include their Hybrid Piling System and waterproofing to protect foundations, crawl spaces and basements. Contact a certified foundation repair specialist to protection your foundation.