Difference Between Foundation Problems vs Settling

worker applies bitumen mastic on the foundation

If you own a home or building, then you may notice signs of changes in your foundation. This can be caused by settling or other foundation problems. The two can cause similar problems in your home like cracks or slants on the floor.

To fix these problems though may require a different approach. So, it is important to know if your building is settling or has a foundation problem. This isn’t always easy to do.

Continue reading to learn more about foundation problems vs. settling. We will cover everything you need to know.

What Is Foundation Settling?

Gravity wreaks havoc on building foundations. Over time every foundation will have effects of the natural pressure put on it from gravity. The two things that affect your foundation settling the most is time and the weather.

It is important to make sure that you are building your home on quality soil. A home built on poor soil can have significant settling problems. Some homes have sunken in a short amount of time like a few months in poor soil.

Two Periods of Settling

There are two periods of settling that will happen to your building. The initial settling happens within the first couple of years. This is caused by the natural pressure of your home on the new foundation. It is usually minimal if the foundation is well done.

Ongoing settlement occurs over time as your building ages. This is a gradual settling that happens long-term. This happens to all buildings; it is a natural process. It can be controlled and maintained with proper foundation care.

Common Signs Your Building is Settling

There are several signs that your building is settling. Looking for these signs will help you figure out if you are experiencing settling.

  • Seeping in the basement
  • Walls are not aligned with the framing
  • In cement block homes bulging or bowing in the center of the blocks and cracks in the mortar joints
  • Cracks in cement walls in the basement
  • Chimney cracks, leaning, or separation from the building
  • Gaps around windows and doors
  • Cracks in exterior bricks or stonework
  • Doors and windows sticking
  • Trim or molding coming off the walls
  • Stuck windows

What Are Foundation Problems?

Foundation problems happen when the settling of your building is severe. This is beyond the typical settling that is natural for buildings. These problems make your building structurally unsound and dangerous. Foundation problems affect the stability and integrity of your building’s foundation.

Two Common Foundation Problems

Foundation expansion is a common problem with foundations that use bricks. Over time the bricks have a tendency to expand. Moisture in the ground also causes this to occur, in wet locations it can happen faster.

Foundation shrinkage is another common foundation problem. Over time concrete foundations shrink as part of the curing process. This can cause gaps between the concrete slab and the foundation wall of your building.

Commons Signs Your Building has a Foundation Problem vs Settling

Foundation problems will become more noticeable over time in your home. These problems may start out small like the ones listed above as part of settling and become more severe.

  • Visible cracks in your foundation
  • Need for pier and beam leveling
  • Horizontal cracks in your foundation
  • Wall cracks on the interior of the building
  • Roof cracks in the structure
  • Sticking windows and doors
  • Seeping in the basement

Tips to Prevent Foundation Problems

Foundation problems can cause significant damage over time. They are also expensive to fix if you do run into a problem. There are some ways that you can help to prevent foundation problems. Settling is common and will happen over time. Preventing severe foundation problems is a good way to be proactive and save money in the long run.

  • Drain standing water away from the home. Moisture in the ground is good but standing water can cause stress on your foundation.
  • Use proper grading on your property. Slanting the ground away from the home will keep water from reaching the base of your foundation.
  • Keep trees and shrubs a good distance away from the home. Trees can pull all the moisture out of the ground and cause your foundation to crack over time.
  • Maintain the moisture around your home. You want the foundation to stay moist to prevent shrinkage. Water the ground around your home and use rock beds to help reach the deeps parts of the soil.
  • Embed the foundation by adding mulch or soil around the foundation. This will help keep moisture in the foundation during dry periods.

What Costs to Expect if You Have a Foundation Problem

Foundation repairs can be expensive if you have to deal with one. The cost can vary depending on several elements. In general, repairs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

There are several elements that can affect your price. The type of problem you have, the severity, and location. You will also need a building permit to make the repairs. You may have some hidden obstacles like tree roots to deal with. It is hard to know without getting an estimate.

How to Know the Difference Between Foundation Problems vs. Settling

It can be difficult to know what is going on when it comes to foundation problems vs settling. Most owners don’t really think about their foundations until there is a problem. To determine if you are dealing with a serious issue seek some advice.

You will want to address the problem before it becomes severe to reduce any costs. Normal settling is nothing to worry about but if it becomes severe you will need proper repairs.

Remember to check out our blog for more information, inspiration and tips on construction and renovation.

 

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