Building a foundation is one of your house’s most structurally significant aspects. When set on a solid foundation, the rest of the house has the support it needs to maintain its integrity and stand for decades. If your house’s foundation is set improperly, a host of problems can follow. A sinking foundation is one issue that can occur if the foundation is laid improperly or on unstable soil. Sinking foundations are problems that need to be addressed and examined as soon as you notice them to prevent further damage (and, of course, repair costs) to the rest of the house.
When it comes to fixing sinking foundations, you can take two main approaches: either excavating and adding new soil beneath your existing structure or using some stabilization system that will keep your pier and beam foundation from sinking further into its current state. In either case, it’s essential to make sure you have an experienced professional take a look at your situation before making any decisions about how best to proceed with repairs on your home’s structure because there are so many variables involved in determining how much work will be necessary—and how expensive.
The ground beneath your home is a lot like a sponge. When your pier and beam foundation was first built, the ground surrounding it was compacted. This means it was tamped down (flattened) as much as possible to create a dense and level surface. The compaction can be adequate for as little as 3-4 inches or up to 2 feet, depending on the equipment used. But no matter how well compaction is done, air pockets can still be within the soil.
Once your home is built, air pockets its weight press against the ground. These little spaces in dirt shift or collapse, causing your home to settle or sink.
If water flows into the soil around your foundation, it can expand and push up against your home. This is called hydrostatic pressure, and it’s one of the leading causes of cracks and water leaks in your foundation.
Water moving around your foundation can undermine the dirt around your home. Sometimes it thoroughly erodes the soil under your home; other times, it may only soften the ground. But whether the soil is too soft to support the house or washed out significantly, the result is the same: it won’t properly support the weight of the house.
Droughts cause the soil around your home to dry out, which contracts and pulls dirt away from the foundation.
Flooding is another primary source of damage; when water freezes, it forms ice that expands in the soil below your home, pushing the foundation up and out of position. Then, when the ice melts, the lack of pressure lowers the foundation.
All this melting ice and snow combined with spring rains can create floods—which we’ve already noted as a possible cause for your sinking foundation.
But did you know that a drought can also create pier and beam foundation imbalances? When the soil around your home dries out, it begins to contract—this can pull dirt away from the foundation and undermine it, making it shift farther into the ground.
Your home is your castle, and you must take care of it. If you notice that your foundation is starting to sink or shift, there are a few signs of foundation problems that can help you identify the issue before it becomes a severe problem.
If your windows or doors start to jam, become misaligned, or don’t close properly, this could be a sign that the foundation is starting to shift or settle. You may also see cracks in your basement floors, walls in living areas of your house, and other places where there shouldn’t be any cracks. Water puddles around the base of your home may be another indicator of foundation issues. Additionally, if you notice floors becoming sloped or unevenly leveled over time, this could indicate foundation issues.
Homeowners who live in areas with unstable soils should also pay extra attention to signs of such problems.
Foundation sinking is a common problem that can be corrected by boosting the foundation up again using load-bearing piers.
One way foundation sinking can be corrected by boosting the foundation up again using load-bearing piers. A pier is a pole or support structure that gets pushed into the ground under the foundation, then positioned to level the structure and prevent further sinking foundation issues.
There are a few different types of piers that your professional might use for foundation sinking repairs depending on the severity of the problem, your house, the soil, and other variables:
These are like giant steel screws that get hydraulically driven deep into the ground, then affixed with brackets that attach to the foundation or slab to secure and lift it. They are especially useful for lighter structures or when using other piers is challenging.
This type of pier consists of thick steel poles that are driven into the ground, then affixed with brackets to secure and lift the slab or foundation back into place. These are best used on more stable ground and less affected by water, erosion, and other conditions, so it is compact enough to hold the steel piers securely.
When foundation sinking is more significant or more support is needed, hydraulic lift piers that support the entire slab may be used for foundation sinking repairs. They are strong enough for both residential and commercial use. After they are set into the ground, the pier supports are hydraulically lifted until the structure is level and secure.
At Better Foundation Repair New Orleans, we understand that your home is your most significant investment. That’s why we offer top-quality foundation repair services to homeowners in the Greater New Orleans area. We have many years of experience repairing foundations and use only the latest, most advanced techniques and equipment. We also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our work. So if you’re experiencing foundation problems, don’t wait — call us today!