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Foundation Settlement

By: Jenni Huynh, March 19, 2016 – E.T.

As a homeowner, you already know that many things can go wrong within your home and that it’s not always easy to spot any underlying issues. For example, the issue of a foundation settlement often goes unnoticed because it happens gradually. But what exactly is foundation settlement?

Simply put, foundation settlement is the term used to describe a building or house that has gradually sunken lower into the ground below where it was originally constructed. When this happens, your home can suffer a multitude of structural damage, and at worst, could possibly even collapse.

However, foundation settlement doesn’t always take place at the same time throughout the home. When different areas of the foundation settle at different rates, it’s labeled as a differential settlement. Conversely, when settlement throughout the building or home happens simultaneously, it’s called uniform settlement.

Signs of Foundation Settlement

There are many signs within your home that shows the possibility of foundation settlement, such as:

  • Cracked walls
  • Bowed walls
  • Unleveled floors
  • Uneven flooring
  • Stuck or difficulty opening or closing windows and doors

Causes

Foundation settlement doesn’t happen on its own. Factors that cause foundation settlement are as follows:

  • The foundation was built on loose, non-compacted, or weak bearing soil
  • A lack of moisture in soils, preventing soils from being able to stay stabilized and compact to support your foundation
  • Elevated water table or groundwater
  • Erosion or undermining of the foundation from drainage issues
  • Growth below grade roots of trees, plants, and other vegetation

Repairing or mitigating the issue yourself is not recommended due to the importance and difficulty of the task. If you find that you have foundation settlement issues, it is recommended that you contact a reputable contractor that specializes in settlement issues and with a professional engineering background.

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