If you’ve noticed cracks in the walls or a wet basement then you have mostly likely seen the direct effects of foundation problems. However the causes of foundation problems are most likely not visible right away. Foundation problems often are caused by factors that shift the soil under your home. Soil conditions under and around your house directly affect the building’s foundation. As soil shifts and changes it can cause house foundations to settle, shift and crack.
The soil in your region may not be as friendly to foundations as the soil in other areas. Homes built on soils that drain well may have fewer foundation issues. Areas with soil containing high concentrations of clay minerals have more problems.
Clay Soils and Foundation Problems
Expansive clay soils absorb and hold more water than other soils. When this happens, the soil expands and exerts pressure on basement or slab foundations. The soil then dries and shrinks, releasing the pressure on the foundation. This heaving can cause foundation cracks, which contribute to wet basements, crawl space moisture, cracks in walls and bugs in the house.
Inadequate exterior drainage also leads to foundation problems. Any time water pools close to or under the foundation, problems develop. To avoid moisture issues under your house, always keep downspouts secured tightly to the home’s gutters and diverted away from the house. Patios, landscaping, driveways and walkways need to be sloped away from the house as well. The EPA says a minimum slope of 1/4 inch per foot is needed plus back-fill to prevent settling.
Tree Roots and Foundation Problems
Tree roots can pose problems for foundations. Trees should never be planted close to the house, especially larger trees. Their roots can extend for several feet and one large tree can remove about 100 gallons of water daily from the soil. If that water is leeched from the soil under the foundation, the shrinkage can cause soil shifting and movement. Tree roots can crack plumbing located underneath foundations. Many slab foundations have plumbing underneath. When the pipes crack, water leaks and pools under the foundation. This pooling creates a variety of foundation problems.
In addition to cracks in drywall or plaster walls, foundation problems can also cause bouncy floors, uneven floors, crooked doors or doors that don’t shut properly, windows that stick and baseboards or molding that is separating at the corners. If your home exhibits any of these signs, contact a repair specialist for an inspection and evaluation.