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cracking and bowing foundation wall problems

The 3 Most Common House Foundation Defects

Your property’s foundation is absolutely vital to its health – learning to recognize the causes of foundation defects and recognize damage is key.

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Being a homeowner comes with many benefits and a lot of responsibilities. Taking care of a property, especially an older property, can be intense, but it is incredibly rewarding, too. Your property’s foundation is arguably the most important part of your home; if it is damaged, you could see cracks, bowing walls, and dampness spreading through your home very quickly. As such, it is important that you know what causes foundation defects, what signs to look for, and why it’s crucial to fix your foundation right away. 

cracking and bowing foundation wall problems

Common Causes of Foundation Problems (and the Defects they Cause) 

Broadly speaking, foundation defects come about in one of two ways: improper planning and construction or damage as a result of environmental factors. Improper planning or construction could mean the use of substandard building materials or poorly calculated foundation depth. Damage due to environmental issues and pressures is far more common, however, and covers damage done as a result of flooding, drought, storms, and natural occurrences like earthquakes. 

The things most likely to cause foundation defects are: 

Flooding/Soil Saturation 

Excessive water in the soil around and under your home can cause a number of structural issues, especially if the level of hydrostatic pressure in the soil grows too strong. Excess hydrostatic pressure can cause your basement walls to crack, lean, and bow. 

Additionally, excess water in the soil under your home is likely to cause your foundation to slip or sink. Sinking is a serious foundation defect that has repercussions for your whole home. After all, your property is unlikely to sink on an even level; it is almost inevitable that one side will sink more quickly. 

This puts a strain on the whole structure of a building and can lead to serious problems if left untreated. 

Drought/Soil Dehydration 

Drought is recognized as a huge problem for plants, livestock, and the agriculture industry, but most homeowners don’t realize it can also cause defects in a property’s foundation. When severe drought hits, which is admittedly uncommon in Baltimore areas, you may notice large cracks opening in your yard. These unsightly defects are caused by the soil shrinking as a result of dehydration. 

While this may be an unsightly issue for your garden, it’s a much bigger problem when cracks form in the soil under your home. If these chasms get large enough, your foundation will not receive the support it requires. This can lead to a defect called settlement where chunks of a property’s foundation settle into the cracks in the earth. This allows water into the property when the drought breaks but also undermines the stability of the property as a whole. 

Repeated Freezing and Thawing 

Snap freezes can make a lot of things difficult, but they can also be dangerous for your property’s foundation. You see, when the top layer of soil freezes quickly, it can become solid before the soil further down begins to freeze. This means when the lower layers begin to expand (as a result of the water in the earth), they push the top layer up as a slab. 

This may not seem like a big issue, but when the soil doing this is under your property it can cause a unique issue known as frost heave (or foundation heave). Frost heave occurs when the soil pushes upward with such a force that it causes the foundation of a property to crack and bulge upward. This is less common than settlement and tends to affect smaller properties (the heavier the property, the more force would be needed, after all). Nonetheless, when it happens, frost heave has many of the same co-occurring issues as settlement—cracks in your basement floor, increased dampness, and structural instability are all common side effects. 

Don’t Attempt a DIY Fix – Call JES Foundation Repair Instead 

When dealing with home foundation defects it is best to call a foundation repair specialist. Taking on the task alone without experience or specialist equipment could make things much worse in the long run. If you hire a professional, however, they will identify all underlying causes and co-occurring issues to provide a comprehensive and effective solution. That’s where JES Foundation Repair comes in. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection to find out how we can help you and provide the best solutions specifically designed for your home’s repair needs.

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