All house foundations move. Foundation movement is caused by changing soil conditions, hydrostatic pressure, structural instability of footers or piers, invasive tree roots and poor exterior drainage management. Earthquakes, floods and frost heave also can contribute to soil shifts and foundation movement.
Foundation movement needs to be inspected by a certified foundation specialist. A foundation inspection can help determine if your foundation movement needs repair.
Soil Expansion and Foundation Problems
Soil conditions directly affect home foundations. Soils with high clay concentrations expand when exposed to excessive water. The soil expansion exerts pressure onto the foundation, often causing cracks, which lead to leaks, wet basements and other issues.
Poor exterior water drainage contributes to the excessive water found in the soil. Sometimes this water comes from downspouts that have not been diverted away from the house or from the continual watering of flowerbeds located next to the foundation. Walkways, patios and driveways that have not been sloped correctly away from the house also can cause excess water to pool near and under the foundation.
Too much soil moisture can create hydrostatic pressure. The result is foundation movement and cracks formed in foundation walls. If your foundation has cinder block walls, you may discover water pooling behind and inside the cinder blocks. Any amount of standing water or moisture is not good for your home or your health. Humidity and mold growth can result. Excessive humidity in your home may cause warped hardwood floors, sticking windows and difficulty closing doors.
Sometimes upon construction of a home’s foundation footers or piers, conditions arise that affect their structural integrity. Often their stability is compromised by changing soil conditions, including soil erosion and the shrink and swell of expansive soils.
Foundation movement may appear as uniform settlement, which rarely creates cracks in the foundation. However, tipping settlement where the house leans or tilts to one side may create a few cracks.
Differential settlement causes the most cracking and is a common kind of foundation settlement. When differential settlement occurs, one part of the foundation shifts or moves while other areas remain unaffected. If you see foundation cracks resembling stairs or steps, differential settlement could be the culprit.
Contact a certified repair specialist to determine the cause of your foundation issues.