What Is Home Settlement?

Epp Kaiser project
Epp Kaiser project
Your home is a large investment, so home settlement shouldn’t be ignored. If you understand the causes of foundation failure and the warning signs, you will be able to contact a professional and take care of a home settlement issue before it turns into a serious problem. Since foundation problems can be costly to fix, the quicker you act, the more money you’ll save.

The relationship between soil and home settlement 

Home settlement is when a home starts moving downward and sinking into the soil unevenly. This is called differential settlement, and it’s one of the biggest threats to any structure. Here are the top reasons for home settlement:
Soil that is poorly compacted
When a foundation is built for a home, a builder will sometimes bring in loose soil to fill any depressed or hollow areas. The builder’s job is to compact the soil adequately before the foundation is built. If this doesn’t happen, your home – because it’s very heavy – will cause the soil to compress, almost always unevenly, leading to foundation trouble.
Soil that’s too wet or too soft
Moist soil around your home is a good thing, but soil that’s too wet can cause issues. Heavy rain or floods, plumbing issues, or poor drainage can cause this. If the soil becomes too soft, your home will sink into it. 
Shrinking soils or soil that’s too dry
Nebraska is known to go through droughts. If the soil around your home is dry for an extended period, it can shrink away from your foundation. Soil provides support for your foundation, and without it, you could experience home settlement. Tree roots can also cause issues for your home. Tree roots under your foundation can cause dry soil since they require a lot of water.
differential settlement epp

Signs of home settlement

There are some home settlement warning signs you should be aware of. 

Interior signs of home settlement
Wall cracks, doors, and windows that won’t open or close properly are the main interior signs of home settlement. While these may seem minor, they are warning signs you may have a bigger problem.

Exterior signs of home settlement
Exterior signs of foundation settlement include stairstep cracks in brickwork or masonry, a chimney or porch that’s separating from the rest of the house, and doors that no longer fit perfectly in their frames.

House settling vs. foundation problems

We get asked this from time to time and it depends on what you mean by “house settling.” All new homes will settle into the soil after they’re built. As long as the settling is uniform and very slight, there’s no cause for alarm. The problem is something called “differential settlement.” This is when a home sinks into the soil unevenly. Differential settlement puts a lot of stress on the foundation and will lead to problems.

So, the answer to “house settling vs. foundation problems” is…

House settling can cause foundation problems if the house is experiencing differential settlement.

How to fix home settlement

When a foundation is settling, it may require both foundation repair and basement waterproofing services, depending on the cause of the settlement. If you’re questioning whether your home is having settlement issues, give Epp Foundation Repair a call, and we’ll provide a free, no-obligation estimate.


Dave Epp

Dave is the President at Epp Foundation Repair with over 27 years of experience in the industry. Dave has worked on thousands of foundation, basement, concrete, and crawl space repair projects since 1993. Dave is involved in several civic and church organizations and enjoys coaching youth sports, mainly football, golfing, and elk hunting.



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