Foundation Settlement and Sinking

When the soil beneath your home consolidates, is compressed or washes away, the structure above often settles, resulting in cracks forming in the foundation and interior drywall. This is often seen in “stairstep” cracks in exterior brick walls or block foundations. While these cracks are obvious signs of a sinking or settling foundation, because your entire house rests upon its foundation, when the foundation isn’t working properly, problems can appear all over the house, including sticking windows and doors and uneven floors.

Fortunately, even though foundation settlement problems are serious and only get worse with time, they can typically be stabilized and fixed permanently through the use of specialized equipment and solutions such as push piers and helical piers.

installing piers to fix sticking windows and doors

Some types of soil are stronger than others. There are usually a number of different soil layers underneath a house. Foundation settlement can occur when one of these soil layers can’t support the weight of the home.

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exterior wall crack

Stair-Step Cracking

Stair-step cracking is one of the surest signs of foundation settlement and is very common in stucco or concrete walls. As the settlement continues, vertical cracks may widen or become uneven as wall sections tilt away from each other, indicating more severe displacement.

Keep an eye out for cracks that are wider at the top than at the bottom, as this is a sign of advancing settlement.

interior wall crack

Damaged Doors & Windows

An opening cut in any wall is a weak point, so signs of foundation settlement often show up around door and window openings located above settlement areas.

Doors and windows frames may be racked out of square. Cracks may extend from the corners above doors and windows. Doors may separate from the framing or exterior finish. Other signs of foundation settlement include sticking, jamming doors and windows and locks that stop working.

concrete basement crack in rome georgia

Slab Floor Cracking

Cracks in your concrete floor slab can be a sign of foundation settlement, but they may also be a sign that the slab floor alone has settled.

There are times when your slab floor may sink or lift independently of the foundation walls, damaging the floors but not necessarily the walls.

wall crack

Drywall Cracks

Cracks in drywall throughout the house are reliable indicators of foundation settlement. Cracks will often be larger and more obvious in the home’s upper levels, as the stress put on those levels is greater than below.

Typical drywall cracks during foundation settlement are commonly located at the corners of doors, windows, and along drywall seams. Drywall tape can also be a good indicator, especially if it’s ripping or coming loose. Lastly, drywall cracks can also be a sign of sinking crawl space supports, sinking floors, and heaving floors.

However, not all piering systems are designed and built alike. Some older methods, such as the use of concrete piers, can be ineffective and cause their own problems. This is why NSquare uses steel push piers and helical piers that are designed by Supportworks engineers and manufactured to exceptionally high standards. These solutions ensure that each job is completed to the satisfaction of the homeowner, providing peace of mind for decades to come. In addition, our crews are trained by Supportworks experts, so you can rest assured that your foundation repair solution will be installed properly the first time.

push pier system

Push piers connect the foundation to strong, stable soil or bedrock. Foundation piers attach to the base of the foundation with special brackets and extend through settling and unstable soil layers, transferring the weight of your home to competent soils or bedrock.

FN_RES_FDR_Helical-Piers-System_Cross-Section_02

Illustration of foundation helical piers stabilizing a home. Like push piers, helical piers are attached to the foundation by mounting a bracket. Helical piers include rotating blades that are advanced (or “screwed”) into the soil.

slab-piers

Slab piers can stabilize a settling concrete slab. When the soil beneath a concrete slab shrinks or settles, the slab itself is also likely to settle, often cracking and shifting in the process. Slab piers restore stability by connecting the slab to competent soil at greater depth. Slab piers are not appropriate for supporting foundation walls or repairing damage caused by foundation heave.

Diagnosing and Fixing the Problem

NSquare project consultants are trained to expertly diagnose foundation problems. They use highly specialized equipment that allows them to develop a solution tailored to your home’s unique needs. By the time the inspection is over, you’ll know exactly what caused the problem, exactly what it will take to fix it permanently and exactly how much it will cost to do so.

Once a solution has been customized for your home, we pick a date for the job. At that time, a highly trained crew of technicians will install the solution, leaving your home fixed and protected for future generations — restoring its value, improving your family’s quality of life and giving you lasting peace of mind.

Total Foundation Replacement

When you see that your foundation is failing, you may be tempted to consider replacing it, and there are companies that specialize in total foundation replacement. But, before you go that route, consider this: total foundation replacement is not only extremely disruptive and expensive, but it also only addresses a symptom and not the underlying issue. That’s because the new foundation will be built upon the same unstable soil that caused the issues in the first place. Only a system that is advanced through these unstable layers to load-bearing soil or bedrock can effectively stabilize your home’s foundation.