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Causes of Foundation Problems

The climate, soil type underneath your home, and even your crawl space can all play a role in the structural stability of your foundation. Here are some of the common causes that can lead to repairs.

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Foundation Problems: The Causes of Your Home’s Foundation Concerns

Foundation problems can be devastating for a home. However, some homeowners don’t know where they come from. Understanding the reasons behind foundation problems can be just as important as understanding the problems themselves. However, many homeowners never take the time to understand the causes of foundation problems.

When you know more about these causes, you’re more likely to be able to avoid foundation problems as a whole. You can identify the potential causes of foundation concerns in your own home, making you less likely to experience them. Here’s everything you need to know about the most common causes of these concerns.

Common Causes of Foundation Problems


Water is a huge problem for foundations. Not only can water cause mold and mildew, but it’s also extremely heavy, which leads to a phenomenon called hydrostatic pressure. These are a few of the ways water could impact your foundation.

The first flooding problem doesn’t come from outside the home but inside it. Although you probably think of flooding in the context of external water flowing around your home, internal flooding can be just as devastating. You can experience internal flooding in your home through a variety of contexts, including a burst pipe or even an overflowing appliance.

When basement water starts to accumulate, it can cause a variety of problems. The weight of the water can start to shift basement walls and foundations in its drive to spread out, especially if you don’t have an effective drainage system in place. These plumbing problems can impact your foundation for good, so you must be able to remove the excess water as soon as possible.

  • Serious Weather Experiences 

Weather is a much more common problem that may cause flooding concerns, especially if you live in an area that tends to have a lot of floods. Although all types of rain and generalized weather problems can cause flooding issues, flash floods often occur when there’s a period of dryness and then a severe rainstorm. This can cause water to pool around your home’s foundation and even rush past quickly, causing damage.

Many different types of weather experiences can cause foundation concerns. This even includes weather experiences that don’t cause flooding, like tornadoes and earthquakes. If you experience a serious weather occurrence in your area, whether or not you notice any side effects right away, you may want to talk to an expert to ensure there’s no lasting damage.

  • Water Pooling Around the Foundation

When you experience any amount of water concerns in an area, one thing to watch out for is water around the foundation. If the water pools around your home’s foundation, it can apply significant pressure, causing cracks and foundation shifting.

This is why downspout extensions can be effective in some instances; gutters that are clogged can sometimes cause water to run off the roof and sink into the area immediately around the foundation. Gutter downspout extensions, on the other hand, allow the water to distribute into the soil around your home. If you’re at all able to, you want to make sure water doesn’t pool immediately around your home’s foundation.


Even though water is a big problem for foundations, its polar opposite is also a big problem. Dryness around the foundation can lead to shrinking, which can cause a lack of structure. These are just a few of the ways in which dryness could occur around your foundation. 

  • Seasonal Drought

Every year, you’ll usually have a wet season and a dry season. This can be fine; it’s a normal part of the climate cycle. However, it’s important to remember that the dry season every year can cause lots of dryness in the soil. When the soil dries out, it tends to fall away from the home’s foundation, which can lead to foundation settlement.

Good planning can help you avoid problems from seasonal drought. Talk to a foundation repair expert today.

  • Large Trees in the Area

Did you know the big trees in your yard might have an impact on your home’s structure? Although the roots of large trees can be strong enough to grow through concrete and crack it, there’s another problem with large trees you might have thought about; they need a lot of water to grow.

When trees draw water from the soil, that removes a significant amount of moisture. Therefore, you may end up with much drier soil than you’re used to. This can almost mimic the effects of drought on your home’s soil. If you’re not careful to water these trees or otherwise manage the impact of the trees’ need for water, you may end up with seriously dry soil around your home’s foundation as a whole.

  • Especially Hot Summers 

When you have a very hot summer, it’s typically because of additional sunlight. This additional sunlight doesn’t have to be a big problem, but it absolutely can be. When there’s more sunlight, that means there’s more evaporation from the soil.

You may want to research how to help your home’s foundation stay stable throughout these unpredictably warm summers. Additionally, if you need to call in a foundation repair expert, you might want to ask them what they suggest you do to deal with these problems. Many foundation repair experts have tips and tricks they can give you.

Poor Planning

In some ways, a foundation may have problems from its initial construction. If the construction crew or original designer didn’t do their job properly, you might have foundation concerns built into the home. These are some of the issues that may arise during your home’s planning phase.

  • Inadequate Soil Preparation 

Before pouring a home’s foundation, a construction crew needs to prepare the soil underneath the foundation. This requires tamping the soil down, ensuring that it’s strong enough to take not only the weight of the concrete but also the weight of the entire home. However, if the construction crew doesn’t take the time and effort to prepare the soil properly, they may gloss over that element.

Unfortunately, this can cause lasting damage to your home’s construction. Throughout your ownership of the home, you’ll always function at a deficit because of the home’s weak construction. You may need to utilize concrete lifting or piering to take your home’s concrete foundation back to where it was at the beginning of the home’s lifespan. 

  • The Wrong Type of Soil

Different types of soil have different reactions to water and dryness. For example, an expansive soil expands when you add water to the equation, and a consolidating soil shrinks when the soil dries out. Clay tends to be both an expansive and a consolidating soil, with certain types able to grow up to 15 times their original volume in water.

As you can expect, if this is the type of soil around your home, you’re asking for trouble. This is more than likely going to end up causing serious foundation concerns. If you have the wrong type of soil around your home, you might need to replace it or strengthen the walls. Only a foundation repair expert can help you learn which will be best.

  • The Wrong Structure for the Area

This goes back to the home’s initial design. When the designer creates a specific design for your home’s structure, they should consider the area where you’re going to build the design. Homes that are close to the coast, for example, will need a different structure than homes that are very far inland. If you have the wrong structure, you could end up with foundation problems.

It’s uncommon for this to be the problem, but it is worth taking a look at. There are plenty of ways to modify an existing home’s structure to make it more effective for wherever you live. A foundation repair expert can help you do that.

FAQs About Foundation Repair Causes

Even if you’re not an expert in foundation repair, it’s worth learning more about the types of solutions your home may need in the future. Not only does it make it easier to consult with an expert, but it can also help you catch red flags early, so you know when to call in a team. 

  • Preventing Foundation Problems 

When you have more knowledge about the leading causes of foundation damage, you’re better able to safeguard your home. For example, when you know that large trees can have a distinct impact on your home’s foundation, you’re likely to avoid planting large trees or shrubs around your home. Preventing these foundation problems can help you avoid more issues sprouting up later on.

Likewise, if you have an existing problem, you’re more likely to notice it early on. For example, many homeowners won’t spot sagging floors until the problem is so bad that it’s impacting their ability to live in the home. If you have more knowledge about foundation problems, you can catch these warning signs and get the right people on the job.

  • Talking to an Expert

Homeowners who know more about foundation repair are more likely to talk to an expert when things get bad. This is a crucial element of ensuring that you’re able to fix the problem. DIY fixes are strongly discouraged, as they may cause additional damage or fail to stop the root problem. If you understand the complex solutions available to you from an expert team, you can better appreciate how much your home can benefit from the right gear and proper installation.

This is the best reason to learn more about the causes of foundation problems–not to fix the problems yourself, but to learn more about them. If you have more information about foundation repair, it’s likely that you’ll know when there’s a problem that the experts can help you with. Otherwise, it’s easy to stay in the dark about it.

When you’re trying to understand the causes of your foundation problems, there are a few things to consider. It’s important to remember that foundation problems can come from essentially anywhere, so you have to keep an eye out constantly.

  • More Common and Less Common Foundation Problems

The causes you see here are the factors that most often lead to the need for repairs. For example, it’s common for expansive soils to cause instability or cracks in your foundation. Likewise, heavy weather conditions may lead to your home experiencing water damage or issues with the surrounding flora. Since these are all issues the average homeowner may run into, we cover that in-depth.

Of course, there are much less common foundation problems. For example, it’s theoretically possible that someone could start to have foundation problems because of a pest infestation that gets out of hand, weakening the foundation. Since it’s less common, it’s not explored in as much depth, but a professional would be able to spot this root issue with an inspection. That makes it helpful to contact an expert to assess your unique home and its problems.

  • How to Identify Less Common Foundation Problems 

Your best bet for identifying less common foundation problems is to talk to an expert. Although it’s possible to catch these less common problems yourself, you may also overlook the signs or think that multiple red flags are disconnected. Calling in an expert for help can be a great option no matter what foundation problems you’re having.

When you talk to an expert about your foundation problems, you’ll benefit from years of experience. This allows them to see how the warning signs are related, how certain solutions can be used to cast a wider net and solve more problems with less invasive gear, and how to prevent more issues from cropping up in the future.

Reducing your foundation problems can make it much less likely that you’ll end up with foundation concerns that require a lot of work to fix. It’s a good idea to reduce your foundation problems as much as possible, so you should know a bit more about how to do it.

  • Reducing Your Risks

It’s possible to reduce your risk of foundation problems. You just need to apply regular inspections with some preventative measures. If you cap this off with yearly inspections by a professional, you can also repair any small issues as they arise and keep them from escalating. Not only will this safeguard your foundation, but also your walls, floors, and even roof.

There are many ways to lessen your risks. For example, if you’re able to change your downspouts to spread rainwater away from your foundation, grade your home so water doesn’t gather around the foundation, and learn a bit more about common foundation repair problems, you’ll be less likely to have recurring and lasting problems.

  • Completely Removing Your Risks

Of course, homes naturally deteriorate just like anything else, and the older your home is, the more likely it is to encounter foundation problems. Because of this, you do need to brace yourself for some repairs over time. The key to making this risk limited, or almost nonexistent, is installing the appropriate solution to fortify your home and prepare it for hardship. This may include waterproofing your basement or having wall anchors or other strengthening equipment professionally installed.

Depending on your area, this may be more or less necessary. For example, if you deal with shifting soils or intense weather conditions, you’ll need a foundation that’s prepared for the stress. If you live in a milder climate, however, then a professional can help assess your home and see what minor adjustments can be made to prepare it for a more durable future.

Foundation repair isn’t a cut-and-dry concept like you might have thought initially. It’s more difficult to handle foundation repair concepts than most homeowners are prepared for. That’s why there are foundation repair experts who can help you. It’s a bad idea to rely on DIY fixes for your foundation.

  • DIY Fixes

When you implement a DIY fix for a foundation repair, it’s almost always going to be a bandage over the larger problem. There are some benefits of DIY fixes, but they typically come when you’re using a DIY fix for a relatively unassuming problem like a broken door.

This isn’t the case when it comes to problems with your home’s foundation. Because your foundation is so integral to your home as a whole, you could do lasting structural damage with a DIY solution. You want to avoid damage to your foundation if at all possible, which means investing in an expert fix.

  • Expert Help 

The best option for foundation issues is for you to request help from an expert. Experts not only have hands-on experience with these issues, but also more complex gear and safety measures. This ensures your home is fixed properly, that no one is exposed to harmful chemicals or debris, and that the solutions are warrantied for the future. 

With an expert’s help, you’ll get a lasting repair that doesn’t come with the distinct possibility of making the problem worse. After all, foundations hold thousands of pounds of weight; one wrong move could send the entire thing crumbling. Just schedule a free inspection with Groundworks to learn more about your options when it comes to your foundation problems.

Fixing Your Home’s Foundation Problems

If you do experience foundation problems, it’s imperative that you get an expert to assess the problem and help you fix it as quickly as possible. A foundation repair expert in your area can help you understand your options for fixing your foundation concerns. Request a free inspection today to get to the bottom of your foundation problems.

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