How to Fix a Sinking Foundation
A sinking foundation is by far one of the most frustrating problems you could experience with your home’s structure. If you’re experiencing sinking in some elements of your home’s foundation, you might wonder whether you’ll be able to fix the sinking foundation before it causes serious problems overall.
The good news is that you can certainly fix a sinking foundation before it turns into something you won’t be able to control. However, you need to fix it early and completely. If you’re not very well versed in foundation repair, you’re not alone. Here’s what you need to know so you can fix your foundation for good.
How Do You Figure out If Your Foundation Is Sinking?
The first step to fixing your sinking foundation is ensuring you know about it early. However, many people don’t know how to find out about their sinking foundation. Here are some of the best ways for you to learn more about your foundation’s health.
- Know the Warning Signs
First of all, it’s a good idea to know some of the warning signs of foundation problems. That way, you can know when you’ve experienced these warning signs and get in contact with an expert more quickly. These are a few of the warning signs you may experience:
- Drywall cracks
- Stuck windows
- Cracked bricks
- Chimney cracks and leaning
- Gaps in the floor and walls
- Nail pops
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are other warning signs you might experience less frequently. You may even have some of these symptoms, but not have a sinking foundation. Either way, it’s a good idea to know. When you’re looking out for these issues, you’ll be more likely to notice when something’s gone wrong.
- Call in an Expert Every Year
A yearly inspection is one of the best ways to ensure you discover foundation concerns before they become a true issue. Some foundation concerns, including a sinking foundation, may not be obvious to the general public. However, an expert will know exactly what to look for when it comes to all foundation concerns, including a sinking foundation.
The problem is that most of the time, your inspection will come back without any serious concerns. Although this is a very good sign, it has led to some people wondering why they even need inspections when they’re probably going to hear that everything is fine. In reality, you’re committing to yearly inspections because of the risk that everything isn’t fine. When that report comes, you’ll be glad you opted for yearly inspections.
- Do Your Own Self-Inspections
An expert doing a yearly inspection of your home is important. However, you’re in your own home every day. That means you should constantly be on the lookout for warning signs. The problem is that you probably won’t be able to notice the foundation sinking by yourself because it’s difficult to spot.
Instead, you want to look for those secondary warning signs. Sure, you might not notice your foundation has sunk an inch or more in the last few months, but you’ll almost certainly notice chimney cracks if you look around your chimney every month or so. This way, you can call in an expert early on.
Where Can a Sinking Foundation Impact Your Home?
One reason some homeowners don’t take sinking foundations seriously is that they think it isn’t an issue. Sinking foundations can cause a huge amount of damage all over your home and the property it’s on. These are just a few of the ways a sinking foundation can damage your home.
- Basement or Crawl Space
The basement or crawl space of your home is most likely to see issues first. This is largely because they tend to be close to the home’s foundation. It follows that these areas would be the first where you’d see damage, which will likely be more serious in these areas.
Additionally, many homeowners may not go into their basement regularly, and almost no one enters their crawl space regularly. This can contribute to the damage that occurs in basements or crawl spaces because of a sinking foundation. If you never look into these problems, you’re more likely not to notice until you’ve sustained serious amounts of damage.
- General Home Structure
Your home’s general structure will also start seeing significant amounts of damage with a sinking foundation, although it may take a bit of time before this occurs. The foundation is one of the most important parts of your home. If you don’t maintain it, you’re likely to end up with serious concerns that spread out across the entirety of the home.
Many of the warning signs of home foundation failure are manifestations of this damage. For example, drywall cracks often occur when one side of the drywall has to hold more weight than the other, resulting in the drywall cracking as it starts to sink. Additionally, if you leave this alone for long enough, you could end up with extremely serious complications like walls caving in.
- Overarching Property
The property as a whole will also see problems if you have a sinking foundation. For the most part, this is because of the reasons behind the sinking foundation. Foundations don’t sink for no reason and the most common cause of a sinking foundation has to do with soil issues. Whether it’s too much water running through the soil or the wrong type of soil for concrete, the soil tends to contribute heavily to foundation sinking.
This is exactly why the property can see concrete concerns when you notice problems with a home’s sinking foundation. More than likely, the soil underneath the rest of the property’s concrete also has the same problems your home’s soil has. Erosion, expansive soil, and other problems often cause concerns in the entire property, not just your foundation.
FAQs About Sinking Foundations
Most commonly, sinking foundations happen because of an issue with the soil underneath the foundation. It’s common for a foundation to start sinking when the soil underneath it stops supporting it fully. These are the most common reasons to see issues with the soil under your foundation.
- Soil Erosion and Expansive Soils
Soil erosion through water occurs when water runs underneath your foundation, picking up soil particles as it does so. It’s very common when you have water running through your soil. Over time, this will erode the ground and compromise support for the foundation itself.
An expansive soil is one that expands more than other soils when it touches water. It also contracts more than other soils when the water leaves for whatever reason. Because expansive soil has periods of swelling and retracting, it’s common for it not to offer enough support to keep your foundation from sinking. That can cause issues with the soil overall.
- Problems with the Original Construction
Though this is less common, your foundation can have had problems with the initial construction. This can cause continuing problems that persist throughout the home’s lifespan. If left unattended, this can result in several repairs and even replacements being needed, far too often.
You need to make sure that you have confidence in the original construction team that created your home’s foundation. The construction team needs to make sure they’ve prepared the foundation appropriately. If they didn’t pack the soil correctly, your budget may suffer from those failings. Even more importantly, you may run into health issues from mold, pests, and even foundation collapse in the future.
A sinking foundation can certainly showcase that there’s a problem with your home as a whole. However, it can be hard for a DIYer to tell whether the sinking foundation is a normal part of the home or it’s a serious structural concern.
- Settling In
Some amount of foundation settlement may not be a big problem. Over the years, especially if your home is relatively new, your foundation may need to move into its final settling place. This is an unavoidable feature of foundational movement that may happen if the soil was not completely tamped down or has more “give” than most foundations.
This small amount of settling, especially in the first year, isn’t necessarily a problem. It’s very common as long as it’s pretty insignificant. However, if you see enough settling that it’s noticeable to the naked eye, it’s probably a good idea to call in a foundation expert, as most laypeople aren’t able to tell when something is settling too much.
- Settling Too Far
Home settling can become a serious problem if it settles more than it should. It can also become a problem if the home begins to settle many years after the home was initially built, as this can indicate a sudden new change in the soil has disrupted your foundation. While the process may be normal, the resulting damage is not. That makes it important to consult with an expert, who can assess if your home is within the acceptable range or needs immediate safeguards.
It’s typically pretty difficult for people to tell whether there’s a problem with the home settlement, as most people don’t know what’s “too much” and what’s normal for a home foundation. Likewise, the early warning signs are minor and can be explained away if you don’t have a trained eye. To get a proper assessment, you can always request a free quote and have a professional give you advice about possible red flags that will develop later on for your unique case.
Some homeowners may consider the option of filling the foundation. To do this, you might use a tool to hoist up the home as a whole enough for you to pump something in that will lift the foundation. However, this tends to be a misguided concept.
- Using Gravel, Dirt, or Concrete Slurry to Fill in the Soil
Some homeowners mistakenly believe that the only thing they need to do with a sinking foundation is fill in the sunken soil underneath it. They may use gravel or just more dirt to fill in the ground sinking underneath the foundation. This tends not to fix the actual problem, which is a lack of structural stability. Most commonly, that gravel or dirt will compress just like the current gravel or dirt under the home.
The concrete slurry approach is something that you may have heard of as “slabjacking” or “mudjacking.” These are traditional approaches to lifting a concrete slab that’s been settling. The main problem is that it tends to add a lot of weight to the slab. This will simply avoid continuing sinking rather than helping with concrete lifting.
- Handling True Foundational Problems
You have to tackle the true foundational problems, not just the symptoms of foundation settlement that you’re seeing. However, it’s often difficult to find out what those foundational problems are. Especially if you’re not very well-versed in foundation problems, as most homeowners aren’t, you can apply the wrong solutions or even exacerbate an existing issue.
The best option here will be to make sure you have help with your foundation concerns. If you’re experiencing foundation sinking, regardless of how seemingly serious the problem is, call on an expert to find out more about your options. Foundation repair is a possibility no matter what you’re dealing with, so long as the team you choose has the right gear and expertise.
Landing on foundation solutions that will work is your only real option. You can’t just put a bandage over the problems and assume that you’ve handled the foundation problems.
- Quick Fixes
There are plenty of quick DIY fixes available out there, but these tend not to work very well. Quick fixes are not going to resolve your foundation problems for good. As tempting as they may be, especially when you’re dealing with acute foundation concerns, you need to make sure you’re fixing the problem long-term. After all, the older homes get, the more their structural supports begin to weaken. If you add a halfway fix to this, it’s only going to compromise the home more over time.
Rather than just filling in the problems on the surface, it’s important to pay close attention to the problems underneath. A quick fix won’t do anything except push off the issue. Fixing those underlying causes is the only way to ensure that your home lasts for several decades to come.
- Help From an Expert
Experts can assess the current problems and give you more opportunities to fix things. The help that an expert can provide is unparalleled. Experts can help you discover your foundation problems, fix the root causes, and generally maximize your home’s overarching health.
This is exactly why you need to talk to a Groundworks foundation repair expert for better solutions. When you get help from an expert, they will be able to help you figure out a solution and fix it for good. Schedule an appointment with a Groundworks expert today to take your first step toward a better foundation.
The Expert Solution Is Always the Best One
At the end of the day, it’s always going to be best to tackle the problem in its entirety. Whether it’s something as serious as a sinking foundation or as seemingly minor as nail pops, you need to get to the bottom of the problem and fix it completely. You definitely won’t be able to do that on your own, which is where Groundworks comes in.
With a foundation repair expert from Groundworks, you’ll be able to diagnose and treat your home’s foundation problems more effectively. Whether you have a sinking foundation or any other foundation concerns, an expert from Groundworks can direct you to the best fixes possible. Request a free foundation inspection today to tackle your home foundation problems more directly.