Homeowners usually know what foundation settling is, but new homebuyers may not. In new homes, settling is usually minimal and uniform, as the weight of the newly built home settles into a newly excavated site. However, differential foundation settlement can result in critical issues that could compromise a home’s stability and safety over time.
What causes differential foundation settling?
- Poor drainage can cause the soil around a home’s foundation to become oversaturated with water. This causes the soil to expand and swell, putting pressure on foundation walls, leading to cracks.
- The presence of mature trees and other vegetation around a home can also cause foundation settling. Trees and other vegetation with large roots near a home can draw moisture away from the soil surrounding a home’s foundation, resulting in decreased soil volume and the formation of voids. This can cause a home’s foundation to begin sinking into the voids.
Signs of Foundation Settling
- Windows get stuck easily or are difficult to open and close
- The interior trim detaches from walls or around windows and doors
- Doors won’t close or open easily
- Cracks appear in exterior stonework or bricks
- Cracks appear in the chimney
- Cracks appear in the basement near poured concrete walls
- Water is leaking into the basement from cracks in the foundation wall
Preventing differential foundation settling
- Clean gutters regularly so that water doesn’t spill over the side of your home and soak the soil around the foundation.
- Install downspout extensions to ensure water is channeled away from the foundation.
- Don’t plant water-hungry vegetation next to your foundation.
- Install an underground downspout and pop-up emitter.