What Causes Foundation Problems?

Foundation problems are a major cause of concern for many homeowners. No one wants to live in a house that isn’t structurally sound, yet repairs can be costly.

Doors and windows that stick or fail to close completely and cracks appearing on the inside or outside of your home are common warning signs of foundation damage. A leaning chimney, sagging front porch and bowed or sloped walls or floors could also indicate a problem.

foundation problems

But what causes these structural issues?

Foundation Problems are Soil Problems

In most cases, the foundation itself isn’t the source of your settlement problems. Though age or improper construction could play a part in some damage, a house foundation doesn’t just shift, settle or crack on its own.

The real culprit is the soil underneath the home.

Homes are not usually built on land with perfect soil conditions. Many houses throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming are built upon expansive soils, which can shrink and swell. As the soil volume changes, the foundation moves. This movement can eventually lead to cracks and other damage.

Foundation Problems are Caused by Water

The soil expands and contracts as a result of changes in moisture content.

Expansive soil contains a high percentage of clay, which absorbs water easily. When it rains or snows, the soil soaks up the water and swells, pushing upwards on the foundation. Then, as the moisture dries up, the soil shrinks back down and the foundation settles.

Drainage issues can also contribute to the problem. Damaged or misdirected downspouts and gutters can dump extra water into the soil closest to your home, oversaturating it and increasing the chance of damage. Having trees, shrubs and plants too close to the foundation can also cause a problem, especially if you overwater these plants.

Cracks and Identifying Foundation Problems

As we mentioned, homeowners with foundation damage often see cracks. Cracks can appear inside, on the walls near the doors, windows or ceiling. Or, the exterior concrete may develop cracking.

Cracks may point to the need for repair. However, contrary to popular belief, they don’t usually indicate the location of your structural problem.

Cracks are like hinges that appear at relief points of movement for the foundation. Shifting and settling in the soil under one part of the home often causes cracking to occur elsewhere.

To find out the source of your foundation problems, you’ll need to have a professional contractor perform an inspection. At the same time, you can request a repair estimate.

The professional team at Atlas Piers offers complimentary consultations to homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. To learn more or to schedule an inspection for foundation problems, contact us today.

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