Foundation Settlement and Upheaval: What’s the Difference?

Foundation Settlement and Upheaval

Homeowners are often confused by the terms foundation settlement and foundation upheaval. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to two very different circumstances.

And while one is more common than the other, and other is far more serious.

Read on to learn more about what to look for, to help determine whether your foundation is merely settling, or if it’s in a state of upheaval!

What is Foundation Settling or Settlement?

When your home settles, it essentially sinks further into the soil below the foundation. You know, like getting settled in to bed or your favorite recliner.

All homes experience settling, and it rarely creates a serious problem. Too much of it, however, can lead to the structural degradation of the home.

What is Foundation Upheaval?

Upheaval is a word that conjures alarm – and for good reason.

If your foundation is in upheaval, this means that it is moving upward because the soil under it is expanding. Upheaval is a very serious structural issue and it could eventually cause the safety of your home to be compromised.

The Signs and Causes of Upheaval

The signs and causes of upheaval are easy to spot, if you know what you’re looking for.

The most obvious sign is cracking in your floor or in the walls. This occurs due to pressure exerted from below, as your foundation moves up unevenly. The areas experiencing upheaval – usually one corner or side of the house – will compress together and eventually separate.

It may look similar to settlement, but it’s a much more serious problem.

Upheaval is typically caused by an excess of moisture in the soil under the foundation.

This can occur from frost or freezing conditions, because the soil will expand when frozen and contract when it thaws. Or, if you remove too many trees from the landscape around your home, this can cause moisture to be directed to other places since the roots aren’t there to absorb the water.

Still, some other causes of upheaval include:

  • Flooding from high levels of precipitation
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Standing water near the foundation of your home, such as from broken sewer lines or an improper slope in the ground surrounding your home

What if it’s Upheaval?

To correct an upheaval problem, we must first identify its cause.

Repairing whatever is causing the upheaval is the only way to stop it from progressing.

The amount of upheaval will dictate what further measures must be taken, once the underlying problem is identified.

One common remedy for upheaval is injecting the soil under the foundation with a chemical solution that prevents your soil from absorbing water. It may also be necessary to dig tunnels under your home and lift the foundation, to allow better drainage. Or an underpinning may be needed to redistribute the load.

Atlas Piers specializes in correcting all types of foundation settling problems, to prevent further structural damage to your home. If you suspect a problem with your foundation in Utah, Nevada or Wyoming, contact us today. Our experienced technicians will inspect your home and determine the best approach to repairing your foundation settlement or upheaval problems.

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