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Is Your Foundation Moving Without You? Shifting Foundation Causes, Symptoms, and Repairs

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The foundation of your home does more than simply hold the house above the soil, it also supports the building itself, helps to resist movement of the soil beneath the building, provides insulation and it prevents moisture or water damage from occurring. Stability is the key when constructing a strong foundation and while concrete is one of the most durable materials used for foundations; its stability relies on the construction site being properly prepared. So, basically if the foundation is weak, there will be mild to serious problems in the future. One of the most common foundation problems is shifting, which can wreak havoc on the value of the structure, even causing it to be unsafe. 

Causes of Concrete Foundation Shifting

There are a number of reasons that may cause the concrete foundation of your home to shift, but one of the most common causes is due to the soil expansion under the foundation. Soil naturally responds to weather changes, such as extreme rainy conditions or drought conditions. However, when the soil undergoes repeated contracting and expansion, it causes shifting in the ground, which ultimately places stress on the concrete and eventually causes shifting and cracking. Other causes of foundation shifting may include:

  • Slab leaks-when plumbing pipes are installed under a concrete slab, there is a risk of leaks that will go unnoticed for long periods of time. Under-the-slab plumbing leaks allow moisture to enter the soil beneath the concrete, which causes the soil to expand, giving it enough volume to put extreme force on the concrete. When the soil dries out, it contracts and the soil decreases in volume, which ultimately causes the foundation to shift and deteriorate.
  • Compacted soil and inadequate drainage-if the soil is under the concrete is heavily compacted, it may cause the foundation to sink or settle into ground. Inadequate drainage means the water around the foundation, can find its way under the concrete and cause a shift in the soil.

Signs of a Shifting Foundation

It is important to understand that all concrete foundations settle over time; however, problems happen when the settlement is uneven or extreme. Signs of your foundation shifting may include:

  • Doors and windows that do not close properly
  • Cracked interior and/or exterior walls
  • Displaced or cracked moldings
  • Separation around windows
  • Visible cracks in the foundation
  • Gaps between walls and ceiling or walls and floor
  • Cracked or uneven floors

How Is a Shifting Foundation Repaired?

One of the most important things to remember is that in most situations a sinking concrete foundation can usually be repaired. It is common for many homeowners to assume foundation problems are beyond repair, but there are in fact several repair options available. The method of repair depends on the type of distress and the cause of distress. Piering and slabjacking are the two most common types of concrete raising used to repair a shifting foundation:

  • Piering is done by driving steel posts through the unstable soil, then using hydraulic jacks to raise the concrete and stabilize the concrete slab that has been affected by the underlying soil.
  • Slabjacking, also known as concrete raising and mudjacking, is a process in which grout is pumped beneath a slab or beam in order to create a lifting force meant to restore the slab to its original elevation.

If you notice any signs of distress in your foundation, it is important that you get the problem inspected and repaired as soon as possible. The longer you delay repairs, the deeper the foundation can sink, causing more extensive damages and more expensive repairs. For more information about concrete raising, talk to contractors like Canyonlands Concrete Raising, LLC.