Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Guest post- What causes foundations and slabs to start to sink?

Whether your home is new or old, there is a possibility that the foundation (or slab) can start to sink into the ground.  The reasons for this are many. Settlement or movement can be caused by expansion in the clay, improper compaction in the soil or improperly maintained ground surrounding the foundation. Regardless of the cause of the settling, this scenario can be very serious for the homeowner. Settlement can not only reduce the value of your home, it can also render it dangerous to live in.

In most cases, the underlying cause of foundation settling is water. Certain components in soil tend to swell or shrink with varying levels of moisture. The result is varying degrees of movement in the soil. High clay content in soil is more susceptible to settling than those types of clay that have less clay. The degree of settlement can vary from very slight (which is still an issue worth addressing) to quite pronounced- a dangerous situation.

When the foundation of a home or building is laid upon unstable soil, there is much higher likelihood that the foundation will move, shift, and settle. Because there is no real degree of uniformity to each type of soil’s movement, virtually every foundation is subject to movement. This is true of all kinds of foundations, whether it is slab, pier-style or beam-style foundations. In some cases, the soil underneath a home will swell uniformly, in which case there is no issue as the foundation will also move uniformly. The problems arise when the soil swells unevenly, causing the slab to settle unevenly. That differential movement can cause cracks, fissures and other problems.

When slab settlement occurs, a host of problems can arise.  The structure can be at risk of being damaged, which can cause a variety of hazards and make the home unsafe.  Drainage problems, tripping hazards, cracks and other issues can also arise from slab settlement.

How do you know that your home may have settlement issues? There are some signs to look for.  These include:

Exterior Warning Signs

Rotation in the walls

Separation around windows or garage door

Noticeable cracks in bricks or surrounding mortar

Moldings that have fallen off or shifted

Interior Warning Signs

Doors and windows that fall out of alignment

Cracks in drywall or sheetrock

Floor cracks

Generally, settlement cracks will appear vertically, as opposed to the kind of cracks that will occur as a result of a wall being subject to lateral movement from soil pressure.
If you notice any of these warning signs, do not hesitate; call a foundation specialist such as SMR Supplies Inc. They can assess the issue and devise a solution to remedy the problem. Shifting foundations can be a serious issue, posing a threat not only to the value of your home but also to its structural integrity. Do not take that risk. Call in the experts to fix the problem and keep your home and your family safe.

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