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How Does Structural Foundation Damage Happen?

Sep 28, 2012 • By Matthew Stock with Barry Schilling.

How Does Structural Foundation Damage Happen?

The very word “foundation” sounds solid.  It’s used widely to describe a solid basis for an idea, a business, a relationship.  It’s something to build upon.

The foundation of your home should be no less solid.  A competent builder will make it level and square and it will support your home for a long, long time.  Things can go wrong with foundations, though, and when they do, the damage can spread quickly throughout your house.

How Does Structural Foundation Damage Occur?

It’s all about movement.  Foundations are meant to stay in one place without shifting or settling.  When they move, they get damaged.  But what causes something so solid to move?

You’re probably not surprised when I tell you that the culprit is water.  When the soil surrounding foundation walls absorbs a lot of water, it swells and can cause walls to bow or tilt inward.

When the water goes away, as in our current drought, the soil shrinks.  When the soil under the foundation shrinks away from the footings, the foundation, and the home it supports, will settle.  When the soil surrounding the walls shrinks, it creates pathways for water to enter the basement.

How Does the Soil Become Saturated?

The water table, often the villain in basement horror stories, beats the rap here.  It’s rain that does the dirty work, with poor water management around the home as its accomplice.  If your gutters are overflowing, your downspouts discharging right next to the foundation and the grade of your yard slopes toward the house, you’re asking for foundation problems.

If your foundation walls are constructed of concrete block, they’re likely to bow in when the mortar joints crack from all the pressure being exerted by the saturated soil.  If they’re poured concrete, they can crack at the corners and tilt inward, separating from the house.  In either case, repairs are required.

If your foundation settles, most of the evidence will be found above ground.  Cracked and bowed drywall, jammed windows, balky doors and slanting floors are all signs that your foundation has dropped.  Again, repairs are in order.

So, what can you do?  Well, if you haven’t (yet) seen the signs of foundation damage, head it off at the pass by making sure that you have the proper yard drainage and addressing other water management issues around your home.  If you’re seeing cracked or bowing walls in your basement or just can’t get the back door open anymore, your foundation needs work.  In either case, you need the help of an expert.

At U.S. Waterproofing, we have not only the expertise to keep water away from your foundation and out of your basement but also to repair the damage it may have done.  There are thousands among our 300,000 satisfied customers for whom we’ve done structural repair with a minimum of disruption and at a fair price, so why not ask for our free advice?

Tags: foundation cracks, foundation repair, foundation damage

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