What Causes Foundation Problems

The 5 Most Common Causes of Foundation Problems

  1. Seasonal Weather Changes
  2. Expansive Clay Soils
  3. Poor Drainage (resulting in too much water)
  4. Under-slab Plumbing Leaks
  5. Nearby Trees & Tree Roots (resulting in too little water)

Soil conditions typically are the root of foundation problems. As the soil under and around your home continuously changes, it can cause house foundations to shift, settle and even crack. Several direct causes of foundation problems are soil-related.

Seasonal Conditions and Foundation Problems

In many areas of the country the weather changes seasonally. Rainy seasons alternating with dry seasons can adversely affect the soil underneath the home. In areas with expansive clay soils, this is a common cause of foundation problems. Soils with high clay content absorb more water than other soils. This causes the soil to expand when wet. The wet, expansive soil then pushes upward on the foundation. When the soil dries, the foundation settles. This continuous foundation movement can result in cracks and other damage.

Drainage Issues and Foundation Problems

Drainage issues can contribute to foundation problems. If your home lacks gutters or the downspouts are not directed away from the foundation properly, excessive water will be dumped into the soil closest to the house. The soil will become over-saturated. Too much water in the soil causes it to expand and exert damaging pressure on the foundation. In addition, if the landscaping around the home does not slope away from the building, this can cause water to collect too close to the foundation as well.

Drainage problems also cause standing water under the house, which contributes to damp basements, musty smells in the basement or crawl space and foundation damage that requires the attention of a foundation repair specialist. Drainage issues also could lead to bugs in the basement, soil erosion, discoloration of your home’s exterior brick or concrete and even mold issues, which can cause serious health problems.

Slab Foundations

Many homes built on slab foundations have pipes running under the concrete slab. Water leaks from these pipes often cause standing water under the house, crawl space moisture, and cracked foundations. Plastic pipes in particular may suffer from the expanding and contracting of clay soils. The intrusion of tree roots under a foundation also may crack pipes and cause additional foundation problems.

A specialist can provide a full inspection and a repair estimate to help determine the causes of your home’s foundation problems.