Foundation Issues from the Outside
Key external factors affecting your foundation
Natural forces such as moisture and soil quality affect your foundation's stability
A house is only as strong as its foundation. Unfortunately, poor soil conditions, changing seasons, and moisture in the soil around your house will stress your home's foundation by causing the expansion and contraction of the soil. This happens regardless of how well built your house is.
Only a foundation professional can determine if your home's foundation is under too much stress or needs repair work. If you've noticed cracks, leaks, or uneven floors, call your local Basement Systems to dealer to get a thorough foundation inspection. Call us today or click below for a free quote!
Major factors that affect and damage your foundation
Soil composition and moisture content
- Different densities of earth under your house (such as stone in one area and soil in another) can cause the foundation to settle unevenly and crack
- Creaking floors, stuck windows and doors, and water in the basement are signs of movement in the foundation
- Heavy backfill creates pressure on foundation walls, causing them to buckle inward and crack
- Once you see the cracks, they've already broken through the entire wall
- The freezing and thawing cycles destroy roads, sidewalks, and parking lots are attacking your basement
- When rigid foundations are subject to the continuous flexing and contracting of the earth, damage is inevitable
- Temperature fluxes cause the soil, water, and air around your foundation walls to expand and contract throughout the year, causing flexing against the wall and resulting in cracking.
After enough exposure, foundations can suffer severe damage such as the large crack seen here
- Backfilled soil around the foundation is looser than the natural soil, meaning it's more porous than the surrounding area and collects much more water
- Additional water will collect around your foundation if it's located near bedrock. Bedrock naturally drains water to springs and other water sources but can be blocked by the presence of your home, causing it to collect around your foundation
- As the backfilled soil settles around your home, it can create a dip in the area where water will pool and collect. If the soil is not regraded so the water runs downhill away from your house, the pooling water will drain into the soil around your home
- Gutters that do not properly direct water away from your home are literally pouring water onto your backfilled soil when it rains, where it then seeps down to your foundation
Multiple ways water affects your foundation
- Hydrostatic pressure is when water seeps into the ground around the foundation and builds up. The higher the water column up against the foundation, the more weight and pressure it causes
- This water expands and contracts drastically (and sometimes freezes) as the temperature changes, which continually adds and takes away pressure on your walls
- As hydrostatic pressure increases, water will enter your basement any way it can, seeping through porous concrete and block wall foundations, working through cracks, and seeping through the wall joint
- When water dries out around your foundation, the house will settle down again, meaning the pressure against your wall decreases dramatically and the soil shrinks
- This expanding and shrinking creates lateral pressure on the basement walls and can create horizontal cracks across the midpoint of the wall and weaken the walls
- In some cases, the soil is wet in some areas around the foundation and dry in others. When this happens, pressure on your basement walls from the outside is unevenly distributed, forcing strain on some walls or sections of walls more than others and causing cracks.
Other foundation damages
- Tree roots can greatly damage foundation walls, swelling against the foundation of a house as they grow and pushing against the walls. They can also work their way into cracks and gaps in the walls and move underneath the foundation, pushing upwards on the house and causing the house to settle poorly as the earth dries
- Tree roots on one side of the house will dry the earth on that side unevenly. A tree that is 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) in diameter and 30 feet (9.1 meters) tall can absorb about 150 gallons (567.8 liters) of water per day during midsummer. This means that there is water on one side adding pressure to the foundations and not on the other
- When the ground is wet, water tends to travel along the paths of tree roots as well as passages created by digging animals, underground water pipes, and electrical lines. If these roots and tunnels lead to the foundation walls, water is being guided along directly to your basement walls
- One final factor that may damage your foundation walls is the vibrations in the earth from nearby traffic. If your house is located directly alongside a major roadway (especially one where large trucks travel frequently), the continual vibrations traveling through the earth from the road over many years will weaken your basement foundation walls and damage your home
Keep your foundation strong and stable
If you have any foundation issues, call your local Basement Systems dealer for a free estimate on foundation repair. Your foundation is too important to take chances with, so trust your local experts for all your foundation needs.
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