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Three Forces That Crack Foundation Walls

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 by Jacques Bouchard


Laying Out The Fundamentals Of Failing Foundations

When it comes to pressure, nothing takes it from all sites quite like a foundation.  Along with holding the weight of your entire home, your foundation also has to hold strong against bearing pressures from the soil outside the home, and is expected to hold together when voids form underneath the structure.

With all these forces at work, there are countless ways that a foundation can begin to crack, bulge, or otherwise break apart.  However, the three causes that follow are most notable:

1.  Foundation Settlement Damage To Foundation Walls Or Slabs

The strength of your foundation is only one factor in how sound your home is at its base.  For true strength, you'll need both the foundation and the soil supporting it to be strong.

If the soil under the home compacts unevenly, the foundation will be unevenly supported, and may break into pieces as it settles.  One telltale sign of  a settling foundation is a crack that is wider along the top than the bottom.  If you have a brick or concrete block wall, you may also see stair-step cracks along the block, where the mortar broke apart.

2.  Expansive Soil Damage To Foundation Walls

If your home is surrounded by clay soils, then you already have immense pressure pushing against your foundation walls.  Add a little water, and those soils will swell up, adding thousands of pounds of weight and pressure against those walls.

If that pressure exceeds your foundation walls' ability to withstand it, something's going to give.  This can manifest itself as the walls sliding inwards along the bottom, leaning in along the top, or simply bulging and cracking in the middle.

3.  Street Creep Damage To Foundation Walls

If you live at the end of an intersection or cul-de-sac with roadways constructed from concrete, your foundation may become the victim of potentially serious damage.  The natural expansion and contraction of this roadway starts a chain reaction:  the road pushes against the driveway, the driveway against your garage, and the garage against your foundation walls.  Over time, this pressure will crack your foundation walls and cause a variety of related issues.

This begs the question:  Why doesn't the builder of your home design accommodations for this?  The answer is that they did.  However, the expansion joints that were created can fill with gravel and debris over time, causing them to fail and opening the way for future issues.

Rebuilding Versus Repairing Your Foundation

In most scenarios, there is no reason to tear down your damaged foundation and rebuild it.  Doing so is a very invasive process – one that includes excavating around the foundation, and putting your home on temporary supports as the foundation is removed and replaced.  This is time-consuming and expensive, and because the soil issues that cause the first foundation to fail are not addressed, the new foundation may experience similar damage.

Instead, we recommend repairing the foundation in a way that addresses the underlying soil issue that's causing the problem in the first place.  Solutions include foundation wall anchors, I-Beams, foundation piers, crawl space jacks, shotcrete, and other options that a certified foundation contractor can suggest.  These install quickly, cost much less, and can provide a permanent solution for your home.

This article provided by Southeast Foundation Repair, providing foundation and crawl space repair in Fayetteville, Jacksonville, Lumberton, and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Contact us by phone or e-mail today for a free on-site inspection and quote!

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