If Your Home is Settling, Don’t Panic

Understand the causes of foundation settlement, and what you can do about it.

Foundation problems can affect your home’s safety, appearance, and value. If you have wall or floor cracks, bowing walls or doors and windows that don’t close as they should, these are signs that your home may be settling.

TYPES OF HOME SETTLING

There are three types of settling in our area: Uniform settling is when the whole structure settles as one unit without damages occurring. Tipping is when one side of the structure remains stable and while another portion of the home does settle. Differential settling occurs between two cracks in vertical foundation walls, which causes the most damage and need for repair.

WHAT CAUSES SETTLEMENT?

Settlement is the movement your home experiences when the soil below can no longer support the weight of your home. Most likely this is caused by changes in the soil below:

DRYING AND SHRINKING OF SOIL

After long droughts, clay soil dries out and shrinks. This creates empty space for your house to settle in. Also, tree root systems can draw moisture from the soil, causing it to shrink around the house. St. Louis County and nearly all of St. Charles County have experienced severe drought this winter, causing settling problems in many communities.

WETTING AND SOFTENING OF SOIL

In heavy rain and flood conditions, clay soil gets wet, holds water and becomes very soft and weak. This can cause your home to shift or sink into it. Where there is poor drainage next to your home, soil can absorb water and weaken.

COMPRESSION OF POORLY COMPACTED FILL SOIL

A common practice when developing building lots is removing soil from hilltops and placing it in valleys to create flat, buildable lots. If this fill soil is not well compacted, it can compress under the weight of the home, causing settlement.

Even if you haven’t seen any changes in your home recently, more settlement may occur. The constant cycle of wet and dry periods means that soil goes through changes and settlement in a home is not over unless steps are taken to fix the problem.

SOLUTIONS THAT WORK

The most effective way to fix a settling home is to pier it. Steel push piers are driven deep into the soil to bedrock or another stable soil layer. They can be installed from the exterior or interior of your home and are used to lift your home back toward its original position, often closing cracks and improving the operation of doors and windows. The solution is quick, and the problem is solved once and for all. On lighter structures such as stoops or decks, a solution such as a helical pier or screw pile may be more effective because the structure may not be heavy enough to drive push piers to a sufficient depth.

If you see cracks in walls or floor, inside or out, or doors or windows that don’t close as they should, don’t delay doing something about it. These could be signs of settlement, and they will get worse if you ignore them. You can call Woods Basement Systems, the highest-rated, most reviewed contractor in their industry, for a free inspection. If your foundation is cracked, buckling, or has other damage, their experts can restore your home to safe, functional condition.

You can call Woods Basement Systems at 866-735-1890, or learn more at www.betterbasementvalue.com.