Every home will experience some settlement over the years and a few inches of settlement is nothing to worry about, but the settlement must be evenly distributed. You cannot prevent natural occurrences like soil expansion and contraction. As long as you know your home had quality construction, it will likely hold up fine under normal natural variances.
What is Foundation Settlement?
Settling is used to describe the natural changes that take place in a foundation over the years due to time and weather. A new home will gradually sink; and good builders and contractors will be familiar with the local soil and can accurately predict how much a foundation will settle over time. There’s initial settlement which happens within the first few years of construction and there’s ongoing settlement due to site-specific factors; this is settlement that will continue over time and should be monitored and repaired.
When the house is built on soil with improper preparation or experiences extreme weather conditions initially, it’s possible for homes under five years old to see a substantial settlement. This generally happens when a home is built during a drought season and a rainy season occurs after the construction is completed. As the clay soil expands, the house will have some settlement and if another drought follows, the clay will retract a few inches of settlement could be seen in just a few weeks or months.
- Stair-Step Cracks In Brick/Concrete Foundation Walls
- Leaning, Tilting Chimneys
- Cracks Around Doors & Windows
- Jamming, Sticking Doors & Windows
- Cracks In A Concrete Slab Floor
- Cracks In Drywall
- Poor Supporting Soil
Stair-step cracking is one of the specific signs of a foundation settling. This type of cracking is very common in brick or concrete block walls, which most homes have. You may not notice the tiny cracks when your foundation first begins to settle but, as it continues, vertical cracks may widen or become uneven as wall sections tilt away from each other; this is an indication of more severe displacement. Keep on the lookout for cracks that have a wide top and narrow at the bottom — this is a sign of advancing settlement.
Tilting chimneys that appear to be separating from the home is a very dramatic sign that your home’s foundation is settling. Sometimes chimneys are built on a footing that’s not connected to the foundation, which makes it even more at risk of settlement.
Slab Floor Cracking
Cracks in your concrete floor slab can be a sign of foundation settlement that the slab floor alone has settled. Sometimes your slab floor may sink or lift separately from the foundation walls, damaging the floors but not always the walls.
Finding cracks in the drywall throughout your house is usually the most reliable indicator of foundation settlement. Cracks are often larger and more obvious in the home’s upper levels, at the corners of doors and windows or along drywall seams. If you see drywall tape coming loose or ripping, this is a good indicator of settlement.
Poor Supporting Soil
Occasionally, a foundation has been built on soil that is much too absorbent and loose to support and brick or concrete foundation. As the soil absorbs moisture and erodes away, not only will you have moisture problems, your foundation will continue to settle further.