If your homebuilder knew what they were doing, they took great care to flatten and level the earth before they poured your foundation. Despite the best efforts of homebuilders, sometimes the soil underneath your foundation can shift over time. This can cause problems in your home from cracks in the concrete to a shift in the walls that lead to cracks in your drywall and worse.
How It Happens
Sometimes when there is an extreme weather change, this can lead to a much larger – or much smaller – amount of rain that can cause soil to greatly expand or contract. Or perhaps your builders didn’t do a good enough job of compacting down the earth under your foundation prior to beginning construction. This step is critical to your foundation being firmly supported for the life of the home. Or maybe the soil under your home is too rich with decaying organic matter. As this material rots, the shape and structure under your foundation can fall away, leading to part or all of your foundation sinking, cracking, or crumbling.
What to do next
As with most maintenance, preventive measures to avoid further damage in the future are always a good idea. Retaining walls and/or a series of terraces can be a good way to prevent further soil erosion. Sometimes installing specially designed meshes into the soil can be necessary, but that is only in the most extreme situations. Most of the time, landscaping with hearty plants that put down large root systems, like most trees and shrubs, will do the job of preventing soil erosion.
If your home is damaged because your foundation is sinking, all is not lost! One possible method of repair is to install a specially designed support under the foundation to reach down past gaps in soil to deeper, more stable soil. These are called helical anchors. If this method is right for your home, you can rest assured that it is fairly cost-effective and requires minimal equipment to install.
A shifting foundation is high on the list of a homeowners’ worst nightmares. It can wreak havoc on your home, letting in water, letting in pests, cracking your walls, and worse. This situation is not to be taken lightly, but don’t panic. If adequate steps are taken at the first signs of soil shifting, serious damage from a sinking foundation can be easily repaired or even avoided.