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Sinking Foundation


Causes of Foundation Problems

Foundation repair issues are usually due to bad drainage, ground movement, subsidence or poor construction, which causes your foundation to shift or settle. Your foundation repair problem will usually be noticed by doors or windows that no longer open and close, or drywall cracks. Incomplete or failed waterproofing around and under basement walls and floors is a significant cause of sinking foundation problems.

How to Spot a Sinking Foundation

If you are noticing your home gradually leaning to one side, you are probably aware that you have some foundation problems. These problems can lead to needing underpinning piers. However, there are some less obvious causes of foundation problems that will help you identify issues before your home structurally deteriorates.

Keep on the lookout for things like windows and doors becoming stuck or misaligned. Watch for cracks in basements, slabs, and on sheetrock walls in the living areas of the house. Water puddles that form around the base of your home may also indicate foundation problems, as can upheaval of floors or floors that gradually become sloped or badly cracked.

Upper level soils, typically 6 to 8 feet below ground level, go through wet and dry cycles due to seasonal moisture and temperature changes. When there are drastic changes like a heavy rain fall right after a drought, water moves through the soil at greater rates than normal. This water looks for the path of least resistance, if this path is through or under your foundation, settlement and cracks will start to appear. Soils with heavy concentrations of water can double in weight causing hydrostatic pressure to press against your foundation, or consolidate soils. This consolidation can cause your foundation to sink due to the lack of support.

Steel push piers are designed to give new support to structures that have lost their original supporting soils. Like stilts, these underpinning products will not only stabilize a sinking foundation but they also can lift and hold the structure at it's originally designed elevation.

If you notice that your foundation is settling bring in a foundation engineer to analyze your situation and recommend a solution to fix it. Foundation repair contractors work directly you're your engineer to carry out the engineers plan he has developed to stop your foundation from sinking.


Garage: Separation from door, Wall rotating out, Cracks in the brick
Differential Settlement
Ask yourself ·   Does the foundation seem to be sinking or settling?
·   Do floor joists and beams seem to be uneven?
·   Are there cracks in the foundation near settled areas?
·   Was the foundation built on fill or disturbed soil?
·   Are the foundation walls bowed inwards?
·   Do concrete floors appear to be lifting upward?
Consider your options ·    Determine the cause of the problem and have immediate foundation        repairs made.
·    If any of these situations are severe, contact a foundation engineer        about underpinning your home.
·    Uneven settlement can cause concrete cracks or uneven floor joists        and beams, have them checked for structural integrity.
·    Footings on different soils can cause uneven loading. Pressure from        the soil or from water can bow foundation walls inward, cause horizontal        cracks and floors to rise.
and if you don't ·    Uneven settlement may continue to disrupt the house structure.
       Bowed  walls may collapse.
Foundation Cracks
Ask yourself ·   Are there any cracks in your foundation walls?
      If so: 
      ·    How many are there?
      ·   Where are they located?
      ·   How wide are they?
      ·   Are they vertical or horizontal?
      ·   Are they stair stepped or diagonal?
      ·    Are they getting larger?
Consider your options ·   Patch unchanging, small cracks (>.030) from inside with cement-based       material or use an injection-type repair material.
·   Fill unchanging large cracks from inside (and outside if possible) with       patch material that expands as it dries or use the polyurethane system.
·   Use epoxy injection on unchanging structural cracks (<.064)
·   Consult a structural engineer concerning multiple, severe or expanding       cracks about possible underpinning needs.
and if you don't ·   Minor cracks only require attention to prevent water or radon entry.
·   Major cracks can allow large quantities of water or radon to enter.
·   Severe or active cracks may be an indication of future problems or
     even  present unsafe conditions that could lead to foundation failure.
Sheetrock Cracks
Ask yourself ·  Are there diagonal cracks at the corners of doors and windows?
·  Are there cracks in ceilings near load bearing walls?
·  Are there triangular gaps above or below door and window frames?
Consider your options ·  Drywall cracks near load bearing walls indicate foundation movement      directly below. Monitor crack to determine if they are active.
·  Patch minor (shrinkage) cracks and monitor any new developments.
·  Contact a foundation expert or foundation engineer about the possible     need of underpinning or other corrective actions.
and if you don't ·  Sinking foundations can lead to major structural damage to your home.     The a crack in drywall is only a symptom of possible structural issues.
Frost Heave
Ask yourself ·  Is there cracking and heaving pressure in winter at below grade     basement entries or house and garage connections?
Consider your options ·  Cracking or uplift may indicate frost heaving. Prevent frost heaving by     installing better foundation drainage and insulating above footings. For     serious problems, consult a foundation expert about underpinning.
and if you don't ·  Frost heaving will continue to cause seasonal movement along with
    water and radon leaks. The resulting foundation instability can continue     to damage the existing home extensively.
Moisture and Soil Gases
Ask yourself ·  Are other houses in the area known to have high levels of radon or     methane?
·  Is there a bad smell or high humidity in the basement?
Consider your options ·  Measure average levels of radon concentration, if you are concerned.     Air-seal the foundation completely.
·  Provide ventilation in the winter and dehumidify in the summer to lower     humidity levels.
and if you don't ·  Radon can accumulate in houses, causing unsafe exposure limits for     occupants and a higher risk of lung cancer.
·  Moisture and other soil gases can contribute to humidity, odor and
    mold problems.
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