How to Diagnose Foundation Settlement Cracks and Problems

Diagnosing Foundation Settling

If you suspect a foundation settlement problem at your home – or even if you don’t suspect one – early warning signs can alert you to an impending problem. Continue reading “How to Diagnose Foundation Settlement Cracks and Problems” »

The Foundation Settling Warning Signs You May Miss

Foundation Settling Warning Signs

Foundation settling, left uncorrected, can cause a variety of structural problems in and around your home.

Before more obvious warning signs appear, you may notice some of the more subtle signs of an impending problem. And, although foundation repair and stabilization are possible to achieve after extensive damage has occurred, catching the problem early can save you money and restore your peace of mind.

If you do happen to notice any of these indications, err on the side of caution and have your foundation inspected as soon as possible.

Sticking Doors and Windows

If you’ve ever pulled on a door and met with resistance, the chances are good that you blamed the problem on humidity and a swollen door.

Swollen doors do stick, and humidity is often the cause. Unfortunately, your doors or windows may stick for another reason: foundation settling.

When a building’s foundation experiences settlement, walls shift and move. This takes the normally square and plumb window and door frames out of alignment. And, as a result, the still-square door or window doesn’t move properly any longer.

In extreme cases, the shifting pressure can press hard enough on the window frame that the glass cracks. By the time the situation degrades this far, you may start to notice other signs as well.

Sloping Floors

If you have an older home, sloped floors are fairly common. Consequently, you might not give it much thought.

And, because foundation settling happens gradually over time, you may not even notice. Meanwhile, things down below continue to degrade.

You can test your floors easily using a laser level or large carpenter’s level.

If a level isn’t available, place a marble or billiard ball on the floor, four or five feet from an exterior wall. Stabilize it then remove your finger and watch to see if it rolls or stays in place. Retest in several locations around the room.

Cracked Exterior Block or Stucco

Foundation settling often causes the exterior walls of your home to shift or sink. As a result, cracks can develop in brick, block or stucco.

Most often, these manifest in a “Z” formation on the outside of the wall, running diagonally from near the top of the wall downward. You may not notice them inside until much later, as drywall is better able to handle this lateral movement without cracking.

Many homeowners believe that these cracks occur naturally over time, or as the stucco or mortar ages and dries out. Unless the home’s structure has shifted in some way, however, these “Z” cracks rarely appear.

Finally, don’t be fooled by an exterior crack that appears to be old or that doesn’t seem to worsen. Much like the sloping floor, foundation settling happens slowly enough that worsening appears imperceptible until, one day, the gap will become even larger than ever.

Throughout Utah, Wyoming and Nevada, Atlas Piers assists both commercial and residential customers with foundation settlement problems. Using advanced technology to stabilize shifting soils and restore structural components, we can correct the underlying problem and stop further degradation.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to inspect your home, if you suspect that you may be experiencing foundation settling.

Can Foundation Sinking Be Caused by Drought?

Foundation Settling Drought

Incidents of foundation sinking and settlement are on the rise in both Utah and Nevada, and our current drought conditions may be to blame.

In Utah, more than 77 percent of the state is experiencing abnormally dry conditions and rainfall totals have been significantly below average for several years. The situation is even worse in Nevada, where almost 2 million people live in drought areas.

Unfortunately, many residents are now learning that these abnormally dry conditions can even disturb their home’s foundation.

Why Drought Conditions Can Affect Your Home’s Foundation

When drought conditions persist over the course of years, the area’s soil becomes more and more dry. As it dries out, the soil compacts or shrinks, pulling away from your home’s foundation. When it does happen to rain, the soil rapidly expands, then shrinks again as soon as it dries out.

The Intermountain West is even more prone to these problems because our shallow clay-type soils expand and contract excessively, and are unable to retain moisture well. This roller coaster ride can throw your foundation into a cycle of sinking and heaving, with settlement damage as the likely outcome.

But wait, there’s more.

In extended periods of excessive dryness or drought, established plants, shrubs and trees send their root systems out in search of water. If you have any plants near your home, the chances are excellent their roots are down there right now, sucking up the last of the soil’s precious moisture.

And, of course, that exacerbates the existing challenges.

The Alarming Potential of Excessive Settling

If your home found a way to settle evenly all the way around, you would probably never notice a problem. Unfortunately, it almost never happens that way.

As the soil dries and shrinks, the foundation loses more support in some spots than others. The weight of the structure forces those unsupported portions downward

Normally, a home’s weight presses downward equally around the perimeter, where the foundation’s support is the strongest. When one corner or side of the foundation sinks, the delicate balance of weight distribution shifts. Walls begin to flex and lean, exerting pressure on walls that were never meant to support it.

In extreme cases, left uncorrected, excessive settling can render the home structurally unsound and uninhabitable. If caught and corrected, however, settling is relatively simple to correct.

Watch for These Key Indicators of Foundation Settling

The most common indicators of settling include the development of cracks in your walls, floor tile or exterior stucco. If your home is made of brick or block, you may notice z-shaped cracks developing. The true telltale cracks are those that extend diagonally from the corners of window and door frames.

If you notice that doors or windows suddenly stick or refuse to open, you may have a problem in the works.

Leaning chimneys and sloping floors are some of the late-stage indicators. If these symptoms appear and you haven’t yet sought help for the problem, time may be running out.

The good news is that foundation settlement can be corrected. Atlas Piers specializes in stabilizing the structure and preventing further problems. Serving clients in Utah, Nevada and Wyoming, we are standing by to assist you with repair and stabilization for all of your commercial and residential foundation sinking problems.

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. Continue reading “Foundation Settlement and Upheaval: What’s the Difference?” »

Bowed Basement Wall Repair

Bowed Basement Wall Repair

The idea of needing a basement wall repair can strike fear in the heart of even the savviest of homeowners. Fortunately, modern technology offers a simple and effective solution.

As your home begins to age, foundation settling and cracking can become a problem, due to excess moisture and shrinking and expansion of the dirt underneath. Unfortunately, by the time you actually notice a problem, it’s likely been developing for quite a while. Continue reading “Bowed Basement Wall Repair” »

Foundation Settling is Common in Older Homes

Foundation Settling

If you own an older home, foundation settling is extremely common and usually not dangerous. In those rare cases where settlement is a problem, however, professional intervention is the only way to prevent major structural damage. Continue reading “Foundation Settling is Common in Older Homes” »