Minimize Foundation Settlement with These Preventive Measures

Foundation Settlement Prevention

Foundation settlement is a persistent problem facing many homeowners.

Whether your home is brand new or designated historic, preserving its foundational support is critical for avoiding structural damage. Periodic inspection and diligence are important for detecting foundation settling problems before they progress.

However, you can avoid many problems altogether by taking a proactive stance around your home.

Know the Common Causes of Foundation Settlement

The conditions that lead to foundation settlement most often relate to changes in the soil below the home. However, some of these problems can be traced to the general nature and existing condition of the underlying soils.

If your home was built using a standard set of house plans, the design may not have been adapted to address the specific soils conditions of your homesite. For example, homes built on lots formerly used for farming or agriculture may experience problems related to poor compaction.

In Northern Utah, we experience a widespread problem with weak bearing soils also. If the footings of your home were not designed appropriately, foundation settling is the likely outcome.

Problems with existing soil conditions are outside of your control. However, changes in soil conditions may also be to blame for foundation settlement. And this is where a little prevention can really pay off.

Foundation Settlement Results from Changing Moisture Content

Foundation settling occurs most often when extreme fluctuations occur in the moisture content of underlying soil. When these fluctuations become a cycle, occurring again and again over time, the potential for damage increases exponentially.

When underlying soils become saturated with water – typically from rain runoff, melting snow, water leaks or poor landscape irrigation – they expand. Once the soil dries out, it shrinks. The causes the home’s footings to shift and heave, ultimately resulting in foundation settlement.

Prevent this problem by ensuring that runoff is directed away from your home. Keep a close eye on your water bill for unexpected or unexplained increases, as this could indicate an underground pipe leak. Finally, inspect your yard after running your lawn sprinkler or irrigation system. If you note any standing water near the foundation, or if the soils around the home are overly soaked, adjust your system to correct these conditions immediately.

Control Trees and Vegetation, Especially Tree Roots

Trees and vegetation are the silent enemies of your home’s foundation.

Foundation settlement occurs frequently as the result of tree roots. Ever in search of water, tree roots may extend below the footings or foundation of your home. Because they grow slowly – and out of sight – you may not notice the problem until the damage is extensive and costly.

Any type of vegetation that’s planted near your home can also cause a problem. Root systems hold water close to the foundation and, to keep your plants and shrubs healthy, you unknowingly exacerbate the problem by watering at this risky proximity.

Installing root barriers around your home can help prevent foundation settlement. Remove vegetation from around the home as much as possible, especially those species that require a lot of water. Replace these thirsty plants with native species that require little water to thrive.

If you suspect a problem with settling at your home, contact Atlas Piers today. We provide foundation repair and support systems throughout Utah, Wyoming and Nevada. Trust Atlas Piers for assistance with all of your foundation settlement needs.

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