Have you recently noticed doors that won’t close properly, or new cracks in your walls or foundation and wondered, “Why is my house shifting?” You’re not alone. These are common symptoms homeowners observe when their foundation is affected by soil movement beneath their home. In this blog, we delve into how soil movement causes foundation damage, the types of soil that are most problematic, and effective strategies to mitigate these issues, as outlined by the experts at Discount Foundation Repair.

The Root of the Problem: Soil Movement

Soil movement, often referred to as soil expansion and contraction, is a primary culprit behind foundation damage. This phenomenon occurs as the moisture content in the soil changes – the soil expands when it absorbs water and contracts as it dries out. This cyclical process exerts fluctuating pressures on your foundation, leading to shifting, cracking, and, in severe cases, structural damage.

Types of Soil and Their Impact

  1. Clay Soils: Known for their expansive properties, clay soils pose the most significant risk. They can swell substantially when wet, exerting excessive pressure against foundation walls. Upon drying, their contraction can remove support from beneath the foundation, leading to settling and cracking.
  2. Sandy and Loamy Soils: While generally more stable than clay soils, sandy and loamy soils can still shift, particularly if they experience extreme changes in moisture or if they were not properly compacted during the construction process.
  3. Silt Soils: Silt soils, while not as expansive as clay, can still retain a high moisture content, leading to potential foundation issues if drainage around the property is not adequately managed.
Why Is My House Shifting

Recognizing the Signs of Soil-Related Foundation Damage

Identifying the early signs of soil-related foundation damage is crucial for any homeowner. This damage typically stems from changes in the soil’s moisture content, leading to expansion, contraction, and ultimately, shifting of the ground your home rests on. Being vigilant about the following signs can help you catch foundation issues early, potentially saving you from extensive and costly repairs down the line.

  1. Visible Cracks in Foundation and Walls: One of the most obvious indicators of foundation issues is the appearance of cracks. These can manifest in the foundation itself, either as small hairline fractures or larger, more noticeable gaps. Cracks might also appear on interior walls, especially near doors and windows, or in the corners of rooms. While not all cracks indicate severe problems, their presence is a signal that your foundation could be under stress.
  2. Doors and Windows That Stick or Won’t Close Properly: If doors or windows that used to open and close smoothly are now sticking or jamming, it could be due to your house settling unevenly or shifting. This misalignment, often a result of foundation movement, affects the frames, making them no longer square.
  3. Uneven or Sloping Floors: Floors that feel uneven underfoot or visibly slope in one direction can indicate that part of your foundation is sinking or settling differently from the rest of the house. Use a level to check if floors are sloping – even a slight gradient can be a warning sign.
  4. Gaps Around Exterior Doors or Windows: Similarly, if gaps start appearing around the exterior of your doors or windows, it suggests that the foundation may have moved. These gaps can vary in size and may widen as the issue progresses.
  5. Water Pooling or Soil Separation from the Foundation: Changes in the landscape around your home can also hint at foundation problems. If you notice water pooling near your foundation or soil pulling away from the foundation walls, it’s a sign that the ground moisture levels are fluctuating significantly, potentially causing or exacerbating foundation movement.

Recognizing these signs and understanding their implications is the first step in addressing potential foundation issues.

Prevention and Repair Strategies for Soil-Related Foundation Damage

Addressing soil-related foundation damage requires a proactive approach, blending prevention with targeted repair strategies to ensure the long-term stability and safety of your home. Understanding how to effectively manage soil moisture and employing the right repair techniques can mitigate the risks and repair existing damage.

Preventative Measures

  1. Effective Water Management: The cornerstone of prevention lies in controlling water flow around your property. This includes installing and maintaining a robust gutter system, ensuring downspouts direct water away from your foundation, and implementing surface grading that slopes away from your home. These measures prevent water accumulation around the foundation, which is critical in reducing soil expansion and contraction.
  2. Soil Moisture Consistency: Maintaining consistent soil moisture levels around your foundation is essential, especially in regions with expansive clay soils. During dry periods, consider using soaker hoses around the perimeter of your home to gently add moisture and prevent drastic soil shrinkage. Conversely, in wet conditions, proper drainage becomes even more crucial to prevent soil swelling.
  3. Landscaping Considerations: Thoughtful landscaping can play a significant role in foundation protection. Position trees and large shrubs at a safe distance from your home to minimize root intrusion and uneven soil moisture levels. Additionally, choose plants that require minimal additional watering to avoid introducing excess moisture into the soil near your foundation.

Repair Strategies

  1. Underpinning with Piers or Pilings: For foundations that have already experienced significant movement, underpinning with steel or concrete piers can provide long-term stability. This process involves driving piers deep into the ground beneath the foundation to reach stable soil layers, effectively lifting and supporting the foundation.
  2. Mudjacking or Slabjacking: For slab foundations that have settled or shifted, mudjacking can be an effective repair method. This process involves pumping a concrete slurry beneath the slab to raise it back to its original position. It’s a cost-effective solution for correcting minor to moderate foundation issues caused by soil movement.
  1. Soil Stabilization: Techniques such as chemical injection can be used to stabilize the soil around your foundation. This method involves injecting expansive polyurethane or similar materials into the ground, which expands and solidifies, filling voids and stabilizing the soil to prevent further movement.
  2. Root Barriers: Installing root barriers around your home can prevent tree roots from drawing moisture from the soil near your foundation. This helps maintain consistent soil moisture levels and prevents the soil contraction that can lead to foundation problems.
  3. Regular Inspections and Maintenance: Regularly inspecting your foundation and surrounding property can help catch and address potential issues early. Look for signs of drainage problems or soil erosion and take corrective action promptly. Periodic checks by a foundation repair specialist can also identify problems that might not be visible to the untrained eye.

By combining these preventative measures and repair strategies, homeowners can significantly reduce the risk of soil-related foundation damage. It’s important to remember that each home and situation is unique, requiring a tailored approach to foundation care.

Working with Foundation Repair Specialists

Addressing foundation damage from soil movement requires a thorough understanding of the underlying issues and the most effective repair techniques. Discount Foundation Repair specializes in diagnosing and correcting foundation problems caused by soil movement. Our team of experienced professionals can assess the damage, determine the cause, and develop a customized repair plan to protect your home’s structural integrity and value.

If you’re noticing signs of foundation damage, don’t wait for the problem to worsen. Contact Discount Foundation Repair for a comprehensive evaluation and expert repair solutions tailored to your home’s specific needs. Protecting your foundation from soil movement is essential for maintaining a safe and stable home, and we’re here to help every step of the way.