In many cases, the expansion or consolidation of the soil that supports your house results in foundation movement. This can cause the entire structure to sink gradually. While minimal or one-time movement isn't a cause for concern, consistent changes such as growing cracks or gaps in the foundation can indicate significant settling, potentially leading to foundation problems. The extent and location of this settling are crucial in determining whether professional help is needed. But why does this happen?
Differential settlement, or sinking, occurs when the soil under a footing compresses due to several factors, including:
• Water infiltration moistening the subgrade soil.
• Clay-like soils drying up.
• Crumbling or decomposition of organic materials in a subterranean layer.
• Inadequate or non-uniform compaction of the soil prior to construction of the foundation.
• Additional load on an existing foundation due to structural additions/expansions/modifications.
• Hillside slope creep due to an adjacent slope slowly shifting.
Soil Matters: Understanding Foundation Challenges
Inadequate drainage of surface water, whether from rain or irrigation, often leads to saturation of the subgrade soil, the layer beneath your home. This is a prime factor behind foundation problems in Southern California. This inadequate drainage can occur when the topography is flat, slopes towards the house, the volume of irrigation is excessively high, or torrential rains create ponding conditions. In some cases, water may have no escape route, resembling a 'bathtub scenario', or the drains could be blocked.
Particularly problematic are situations where adjacent yards or planter areas are flat or sloping towards the house. This can lead to soil adjacent to the foundation becoming saturated due to inadequate surface drainage during irrigation, past heavy rains, or excessive hose use along the backyard wall.
One commonly encountered scenario is rain gutters that drain directly adjacent to the foundation, often into a planter, which then creates pooling. Ensuring proper drainage is crucial to keep water away from perimeter foundations and prevent foundation movement. As water seeps through the topsoil, it can saturate the subgrade soil under the foundation, rendering the soil under the foundation more compressible and potentially problematic.
A Sinking Foundation
Pay attention to the outside of your home. If one side appears higher than the other, or your home seems to be buckling in the middle, it could be a sign of a sinking foundation. A sinking porch is another indication.
A foundation disturbance, the opposite of a sinking foundation, can occur when a slab foundation moves significantly over time. This can cause upheaval of your foundation, impacting the interior of your home and the perimeter.
If you're seeing signs of soil consolidation or differential settlement, or if you want to ensure your property's foundation is on solid ground, feel free to call us at (661) 215-6681 or fill-up and submit the Contact Us form below.
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