Stair step cracks on walls are a common sign of foundation problems caused by settlement and soil issues.
If you’ve seen cracks in your foundation walls or floors, have bowing or buckling walls, or are dealing with uneven floors, your first instinct is to blame the foundation and the way it was built. However, the real cause of the issue may not actually be your foundation, but the soils around it.
When a foundation is dug out and poured, the removed soil is replaced as backfill. Unfortunately, this process can weaken the soil around the foundation and eventually lead to problems. For many homeowners, this is an unknown source of trouble. At Ohio Basement Authority, we can identify soil issues around your home and prevent them from causing further issues with your foundation.
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Understanding foundation soils is the key to understanding foundation repair problems. The type of soil your home sits on plays a huge role in the risk of foundation damage you have. Sand and sandy loam soils allow water to pass through, making them more stable and less likely to expand and cause foundation problems. On the other hand, clay soils absorb water, expand, and put pressure on the foundation. This pressure can lead to floor cracks, wall cracks, and other foundation problems.
There are several layers of soil under your foundation, including bedrock, untouched “virgin” soils, and the active zone, which is where foundation problems can happen. The active zone is the area that is affected by moisture and climate change, causing the soil to expand and contract. These soil movements can severely impact your foundation, causing bowing walls, wall and floor cracks, and lessening stability. Depending on where you live, the active zone can be a few feet below grade or as much as 30 feet below the surface. Our foundation repair services can solve a wide variety of foundation soil problems.
The soil under your foundation is comprised of several different layers, some of which were disturbed when your foundation was originally dug out. When one of these layers can’t support the weight of your foundation, it will begin to sink and settle. This is a slow process that will not be immediately obvious, but over time it can have serious effects on your home.
Common signs of foundation settlement include floor cracks, stair-step cracks in walls, cracks in interior drywall, and windows and doors that are difficult to open and close. Foundations usually settle unevenly, causing damage to walls and floors that can eventually lead to failure if not addressed. We use foundation piers to stabilize settling foundations and provide a long-lasting solution.
Foundation heave occurs when soils under your home expand and force the foundation upwards. This process is generally caused by over-saturation of soil. Underground water, prolonged or heavy precipitation, poor drainage, and frost heave can all be causes of foundation heave. Foundation heave will cause cracks in floors, bowing walls, and sticking windows and doors.
It’s important to note that although the symptoms of foundation heave and foundation settlement are very similar, the causes are very different and the solution for one won’t work for the other. One easy way to spot heave is to examine floor cracks and see if they form an enclosed loop. The area inside that loop is where the greatest pressure is being exerted. In order to fix foundation heave, we use solutions such as improved drainage, soil stabilization with polymer injections, and mechanical foundation repair.
When your foundation is dug out, the removed soil is backfilled into the empty space once the foundation is poured. Backfill behaves differently than “virgin” soil because it no longer has the tightly packed, watertight properties that undisturbed soil develops over decades and decades. When excess moisture enters backfilled soil, it expands and exerts pressure on your foundation walls. This is known as hydrostatic pressure, and it can cause serious damage to your foundation walls.
Foundation walls that are subject to pressure from expansive soils will bow inwards and develop cracks. If too much pressure builds up over time, the foundation walls could eventually fail. We can repair this problem with our wall anchor system, which will stabilize the wall by tying it to stronger soils and preventing inward movement.
If your foundation soils are causing cracks in your foundation, bowing or buckling walls, sticking windows and doors, or any other foundation issues, call the local experts at Ohio Basement Authority today. We can solve all types of foundation repair problems caused by foundation soils.
Contact us online to get your free foundation repair estimate! We offer all our services in Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton Springfield, Mansfield and throughout southern Ohio.