Settlement occurs when a house begins sinking downward. It is caused by the soil below a home being unstable, causing it to expand and contract, resulting in this sinking movement, or settling, of the house’s foundation. This leads to cracks in interior and exterior surfaces, most often on the foundation or on walls and ceilings.
Settling is an issue that happens with most homes and is one of the biggest threats to any structure, especially when not dealt with appropriately or in a timely manner.
Top causes for foundation settlement include:
Evaporation: Hot and dry conditions can cause soil to pull away from the foundation as moisture is drawn out. Settlement due to this moisture imbalance can cause cracks to appear throughout the structure, weakening its structural integrity.
Transpiration: Tree roots can dehydrate the soil beneath a home causing soil shrinkage similar to evaporation and to similar effect.
Plumbing Leaks: Water from leaky plumbing is often a major contributor to foundation and settlement problems including heaving, which occurs when the ground beneath your home begins to rise and push up due to the pressures.
Drainage: Improper drainage will lead to excess moisture buildup, which can erode or consolidate soils. Excessive moisture may cause heaving and expansive soils.
Site Preparation: Cut and fill situations, where the soil is removed from part of the building site and stacked on another, need proper soil stabilization before a structure is built. Loose, unstable soil can cause unexpected movements of the ground beneath the foundation.