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.

So how do you know which cracks are cause for alarm and which ones are harmless?

Read on to learn more about foundation settling and restoration, and how to recognize potential problems.

Remember, Cracks Aren’t Always Bad

No doubt, foundation cracks can be alarming, especially when you notice one for the first time.

The good news is that most cracks are not usually an indication of a more serious problem. Sometimes they are simply the result of minor settlement, expansion or contraction, or are due to inadequate framing.

Let’s look at how cracks most commonly come about.

How Cracks and Settlement Occur

Your house is not static or immovable. It is at the mercy of the climate and soils conditions where you live. Consequently, most homes tend to move around a bit, especially over time.
Summer heat and moisture can cause expansion in the soil, while cold, dry conditions cause the soil to contract. As these conditions occur, season after season and year after year, some settling is bound to happen.

Remember, this movement is normal, and won’t usually cause a dangerous level of settlement.

In an older home, you may notice more cracks than in a newer house, because concrete and other construction materials become brittle as they age. Consequently, they aren’t able to move as well with the expansion and contraction and foundation and wall cracks occur as a result.

The Lack of Building Codes and Quality Control

In most states, building codes were either non-existent or not enforced with regularity, well into the latter decades of the 1900s.

As a result, older homes were often built without the benefit of soils testing, architectural or engineering specifications or material standards. Inadequate structural support and poor quality construction materials can lead to a variety of problems over time.

Unless builders took it upon themselves to ensure a high quality of construction, structural issues and foundation settling are common issues confronting the owners of historic houses.

What Can Be Done?

Foundation problems aren’t as scary as they sound, and most cases of settling can be easily fixed by a qualified foundation settlement contractor.

One common method used to prevent further damage involves leaving the foundation as-is while shoring up those areas of the structure that are under stress. A variety of other foundation support systems and methods may be used, including some that can correct bowed or disintegrating basement walls.

One last thing to keep in mind is that minor settlement is a normal occurrence, but old homes have usually settled as much as they ever will. If you notice new damage or cracking, this could signal a problem with soil erosion or other structural threat.

The foundation experts at Atlas Piers can inspect your home, new or old, to determine the extent of any settlement problem. We serve customers throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. Contact us today for an inspection of your home, to help prevent costly future problems related to foundation settling.

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