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Sinking Concrete Foundation

For some homeowners, a sinking foundation is their worst nightmare. What can you do if you’re having sinking foundation problems in your home?

Groundworks Certified Field Inspector with tape measure

A Sinking Foundation Can Cause Concrete Lifting

In simplest terms, a sinking foundation is one that’s started to settle far too dramatically. It may appear as though it’s sinking into the ground because it’s settling so far into the soil. It’s never good when you have a sinking foundation because it’s extremely important that you maintain your foundation’s stability. If you’re worried about a sinking foundation in your own home, here are some important things to keep in mind.

Why Does Your Foundation Sink?

Knowing a bit more about sinking foundations can be extremely beneficial when you’re trying to understand your foundation’s problems. That way, you’ll know what you’re really combatting when you’re dealing with a sinking foundation. So what causes your foundation to sink in the first place?

  • Too Much Weight on One Side 

One issue with a sinking foundation is if you have too much weight, especially on one side of the foundation. For example, marble countertops are a truly beautiful addition to your home kitchen. However, they are also extremely heavy. That additional weight can cause the home to sink into the ground.

This is one reason you really need to do your research whenever you’re planning a home renovation project. If you don’t plan the project thoroughly enough, you run the risk of having problems with your foundation as a whole, which can vastly outweigh the benefits of renovating your home.

  • Not Enough Support on One Side 

What if you have the opposite problem? The concept of “too much weight” is relative, which means if you don’t have enough support, just the home’s weight can cause serious sinking problems. It’s especially common for there to not be enough support on one side or the other.

This tends to be a design problem inherent in the initial design. That’s one of the reasons it’s not as common as other problems that might cause a sinking foundation. Home designs tend to go through many different renovations, so it’s uncommon for a home design to make it to the market with serious support problems.

  • Soil Washout and Erosion 
Heavy rain outside of home

Especially if you’re having plenty of issues with precipitation and flooding in your area recently, soil washout and erosion can be a serious problem that you need to address as soon as possible. Soil washout and erosion tends to cause problems because it naturally causes a sinking foundation due to the lack of support underneath the foundation.

When you no longer have soil underneath a foundation, that foundation is going to start to move downward. Because soil erosion and washout tend to happen asymmetrically, it’s also common for the foundation to crack as it tries to move further down on one side than the other. That can lead to a number of different problems throughout your foundation.

Can You Lift a Concrete Foundation?

Some people wonder whether you’re able to lift a concrete foundation back up from where it is as it’s sinking. When a concrete foundation is sinking, is it completely toast? The answer may depend slightly on how bad the problems are with your concrete foundation.

  • Minor Foundation Problems 

If your foundation is only dealing with minor problems, like small cracks or a slight tilt downward, you can almost certainly lift it. Minor foundation problems tend to be problems that many homeowners overlook; if you’re able to identify them as problems this early in the process, you’re more likely to be able to fix the problems they’re causing.

Lifting the foundation in this case typically only requires a small amount of effort, which means it’s the perfect fix. This type of foundation lifting is something that’s usually fairly simple and easy to do for a foundation repair expert. You just need to be able to get a foundation repair expert into your home so they can manage it for you.

  • Moderate Foundation Problems

What about if your foundation is a little bit more on the impacted side? This might look like multiple cracks in your home’s foundation, a fairly dramatic tilt downward, and even water problems that might include issues like standing water accumulating on the top of the foundation. These are the types of problems that would make most homeowners talk to a foundation repair expert.

This tends to be where foundation repairs get more expensive. However, don’t worry; it’s still possible for you to fix these foundation problems. It’s just probably going to cost more money for you to do so. These moderate foundation problems aren’t the end of the line, but they’re just going to cost more than if you had been able to catch the problems early on in the process.

  • Severe Foundation Problems 

The last category is severe foundation problems. Severe problems typically include multiple serious cracks in your home’s foundation, with some areas of the foundation looking like there are more cracks than whole concrete. It’s also common to have waterproofing issues at this point, including standing water and high levels of humidity in the crawl space or basement.

Once the foundation problems become this severe, it becomes very difficult to repair the problems. The good news is that you can usually restore a foundation to a healthy state, even if you’re having problems like severe cracks and standing water. However, the bad news is that you may have to repour the foundation completely, which can be extremely expensive and very tricky to do.

FAQs About a Sinking Foundation

There are many warning signs that you’re dealing with a sinking foundation. Sure, many of these warning signs may also indicate other problems around your home, but a sinking foundation can happen if you’re having these two red flags in and around your home.

  • Water Around the Foundation

The most prominent warning sign of a sinking foundation is when you have a significant amount of water around the home’s foundation. This water can carry out soil from the area underneath the foundation, and it can make it easier for the home to compress the soil more than it should. Water problems are a big deal for a variety of reasons, and a sinking foundation is just one.

  • General Concrete Problems

Sinking foundations are also more likely if you’re experiencing issues with the concrete around the home. It’s absolutely possible for these concrete problems to happen for completely unrelated reasons, but it’s more common for concrete to start having problems in a way that also indicates you’re going to have other problems around your home.

Your best bet for catching a sinking foundation as early as possible is to make sure you’re always paying attention to the foundation. When you want to notice problems early on, you first need to make sure that you’re giving yourself the opportunity to do so. Here’s what you can do to make it more likely.

  • Keep an Eye on the Foundation Yourself

If you have a crawl space or basement, it’s a good idea to look at the foundation every so often and see whether it seems like it’s changed. It’s also a good idea to look at the outside of the home and see whether it appears as though the home is sinking into the ground. You’ll often be able to see the sinking foundation problems from the outside if they become pretty severe.

  • Schedule Yearly Professional Inspections

A professional inspection can help you with things that you wouldn’t be able to catch on your own. For example, you might notice a sinking floor once it’s prominent, but an expert can use a laser level to notice a sinking floor when you can’t even tell. Schedule a yearly professional inspection to catch those things.

When it comes to lifting a sinking foundation, there are a number of different options you can pursue. Some of these may be more effective than others. Overall, it’s always helpful to know that you have a variety of options you might be able to take advantage of to fix the sinking foundation.

  • Polyurethane Foam Injections

Polyurethane foam injections are a possibility, especially if the main problem is that your concrete slab foundation has erosion underneath it and has started to sink due to the lack of support. If you need more support under any concrete slabs, polyurethane foam injections can help.

  • A Pier System

You may also be able to use push piers, slab piers, or helical piers to lift the foundation if the soil just isn’t strong enough. This system pushes down to the bedrock and transfers your home’s weight to the bedrock, alleviating weight elsewhere.

  • Other Personalized Options

There are also other options available for lifting a sinking foundation. However, personalizing these options is crucial. You need to make sure you’re addressing your home specifically rather than taking generalized advice. Talking to an expert is definitely your best option.

Because there are many different ways to fix your sinking foundation, you may need help figuring out what to do next. Choosing the right course of action will help you ensure that your foundation doesn’t continue to sink. Here’s what you can do to make the process easier.

  • The Importance of Specific Knowledge

You need to have very specific knowledge about your foundation to choose the right course of action. For example, you can’t just assume that the fix will be easy to choose. Instead, you need to make sure you’re able to gather as much information as possible before you deploy it.

  • A Foundation Repair Specialist Can Help

Because there are so many options available to help with sinking foundations, it’s always a good idea to talk to a foundation repair specialist to help you understand more about your sinking foundation options. A foundation repair specialist from Groundworks can give you more information about your foundation, let you know their expert opinion, and help you create a plan that works for your unique needs.

Repair or Lift Your Sinking Foundation by Asking for Help From an Expert

There are many ways to fix your sinking foundation. If you’re worried you’re going to have problems because you’re already experiencing sinking concerns with your foundation, it’s okay. The good news is that a sinking foundation is something you can absolutely bounce back from. You just need to have the right foundation repair experts on your side. You can find those foundation repair experts at Groundworks.

A sinking foundation might seem like the end of the line for you, but for repair experts, it’s another repair the team takes seriously. Contact a foundation repair expert today to learn more about how you can get a unique, personalized fix for your foundation problems, no matter what they are or how serious they’ve become.

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Disclaimer: “Concrete leveling” means the process by which cracked, uneven concrete is stabilized, and in many cases lifted, by means of PolyRenewal™ polyurethane foam. Groundworks does not guarantee that PolyRenewal™ can make your concrete perfectly level.