In many cases, the expansion or consolidation of the soil that supports your house results in foundation movement. This, in turn, can make the entire structure gradually sink. If the movement is minimal or happens only once, there’s no need to fret. But if you spot cracks or gaps in the foundation that seem to grow over time, it could be a sign that your house is settling enough that foundation problems will occur. Depending on how much and where the settling occurs, it could cause foundation problems that you’ll need the help of a professional to fix.
But why does differential settlement occur in the first place? More often than not, the answer relates to drainage. Read on to learn about the dangers of improper drainage and how proper water drainage can protect your home’s foundation.
In general, differential settlement (sinking), occurs when soil under a footing compresses. The cause of soil compression could be due to:
But the number one cause for foundation problems in Southern California is actually inadequate drainage. Inadequate drainage of surface water, either from rain or irrigation, often contributes to subgrade soil saturation.
Inadequate drainage occurs when:
In many cases, water saturates the soil adjacent to the foundation due to inadequate surface drainage during irrigation, past torrential rains, or an excessive use of the hose along the backyard wall. One of the most prevalent scenarios we see is rain gutters draining directly adjacent to the foundation, and often into a planter. This leads to pooling.
Homes that sit on clay soils are most at risk of settlement caused by inadequate drainage. Clay soils have a high expansion and contraction rate. Upon moistening, these soils expand. Upon drying, these soils shrink more than they previously expanded, which leads to differential settlement. Clay soil causes more yearly damage to residential structures across the U.S. than Hurricane Katrina and Sandy did combined!
Proper water drainage protects your home’s foundation by keeping water away from perimeter foundations and preventing foundation movement. There are multiple ways to improve your home’s drainage situation, including constructing drains, pipes, rain gardens or creeks, and leveling the landscape.
If improper drainage has badly damaged your home’s foundation, don’t wait to get it fixed. Foundation Tech will work with you to find a permanent, affordable solution to the damage, such as foundation anchors or piers. Contact us today to discuss your foundation problems and needs. You’ll be glad you did!