Foundation Settlement

Foundation Settlement

Over time, the foundations of your residential or commercial properties will begin to settle. It is unavoidable, and a natural occurrence due to gravity and the ground below. The foundation will seep further down into the soil over the years, but depending on how it settles and how much it sinks, issues may arise. You may not notice that it is happening, or even think about it over the years- until it is too late.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy is the most prominent example of a foundation settlement issue. The uneven settlement can be seen from a great distance. Typically, the settlement isn’t so pronounced, and can’t be seen unless is settles too far or too deep. This could result in damages to the structure above.

The four most common things that can affect the foundation settlement are frost heave, soil type, water leaks, and the depth of the foundation itself.  Ice expansion in the ground can cause frost heave during the winter months, so the footing depth of a building should be at least thirty inches. Soil plays a huge role in foundation settlement. Soil shrinks in the warmer months and swells during the colder, wet months. Because of the moisture and volume changes, the foundation is affected and could sink more rapidly depending on location. Some soils also stay denser than others, so it is important to take location into consideration when creating a building plan. Foundations laid at different soil depths will settle differentially. Shallow foundations placed with a deeper basement foundation could cause issues. If the home is older, underground piping could start to fail and leak. This results in soil softening and the foundation settling unevenly. These four thinks are the most typical to cause issues, although other factors could certainly play a role.

Justin Hall PE is accustomed to inspecting and diagnosing foundation issues and has taken part in many situations where damages and improper settlements have been at fault. Let us take the time to review your specific situation, and diagnose any issues that we find. Fixing the issue before it gets too severe is imperative to save on costly repairs down the road. Leaving the condition untreated could cause immense structural damages, which would turn into a huge project.  Justin Hall PE will work with you to find the underlying issues with the settlement of your foundation system.

Foundations are designed and constructed with the expectation that they will settle. It is a natural function of gravity that a heavy object in the soil will settle, but how it settles and how much is where issues arise. When a foundation settles too far (or too deep) or it settles unevenly then there may be serious damage to the structure above.

The most well-known case of differential (uneven) foundation settlement is the famous leaning tower of Pisa, Italy. Most cases of the differential settlement are not so pronounced, but they are still serious issues.

Foundation issues are very well-known to Justin Hall PE as he has participated in many cases where damage and improper settlements have been at issue.