If you don’t take steps to protect your home, you may have more than a bit of water or other damage to deal with. Excessive exposure to hydrostatic pressure and shifting soil can cause your foundation to settle and sink.
What Is Foundation Settling?
Your foundation doesn’t settle at random. The process doesn’t just describe the strange sounds your home makes in the middle of the night, either. Instead, the settling process can be attributed to the shifting of soil beneath your home.
Consider this: Whenever it rains in the Florida area, your soil expands and contracts. As it does so, the structure of the soil beneath your home starts to shift. Sometimes, that shifting leaves behind vacuums. If water doesn’t immediately fill those vacuums up, gravity encourages your foundation to sink a little deeper into the ground. If this happens too frequently, either due to hydrostatic pressure or an unstable foundation, you may rapidly find your home not just settling but sinking.
Unfortunately, settling may not be your only problem. The longer you let your home sink without doing anything, the more likely it is that you’ll have to deal with foundation damage in the long run. The same hydrostatic pressure that can cause settling to begin with can also cause your foundation to crack or spring a leak. With that in mind, it’s important to keep an eye on your home’s health so you can react accordingly.
Signs of Foundation Settling
Most settling foundations do give themselves away. There are several signs of sinking you can look out for if you suspect something’s wrong in your home. Some of the most common signs of settling include:
- Bowing walls
- Shifting floors
- Gaps near the joints of your foundation
- Sticking doors
- Foggy windows
- Water damage that’s impacted your belongings, carpet, or furniture
Unfortunately, some homeowners may not catch these signs quickly enough. The longer you let your foundation sink without checking on its overall structural integrity, the more likely it is that you’ll start to see signs of damage outside of your home. The most common types of external damage to your foundation that home sinking can cause include:
- Vertical wall cracks
- Horizontal foundation cracks
- Disrupted landscaping
If you notice any of these issues, you’ll want to get in touch with one of the professionals in the Orlando, FL, area to determine what precisely is going on with your foundation and how best you can deal with the problem at hand.
How to Prevent Foundation Settling
Luckily, you can take steps to keep your home from settling before damage starts to settle in. Ideally, you’ll want a professional to inspect your home to determine what your weak points are and what repair measures may suit you best. There are different types of foundation repair such as piers, crawl space supports, and wall repair solutions that you’ll be able to take advantage of.
That said, there are some steps that benefit all homes. These include:
- Dampen your lawn – You might think that watering your lawn would make the hydrostatic pressure in the area worse. This isn’t actually the case. If your lawn goes too long without water, the dirt particles around your home will start to shrink. These smaller particles won’t be able to take in as much water when it rains as they otherwise would. As a result, more rainwater will reach your foundation. Your foundation will also be more likely to shift, given the unstable nature of your soil. If you water your lawn, comparatively, your soil will stay healthy and will be able to take in rainwater at a reasonable rate.
- Keep an eye on your landscaping – The trees and hedges you plant near your home may look beautiful, but they’re not always foundation-friendly. Many species of trees and hedges, in fact, have invasive root systems. While these root systems won’t physically dig away at your foundation, they will cause the soil around your home to shift more frequently. In most cases, you’ll want to plant larger trees and hedges at least 20 feet away from the perimeter of your home.
- Clean your gutters – Your gutters and downspouts work together to keep water away from the perimeter of your home. If you don’t clean your gutters regularly, that rainwater can plummet straight down the sides of your home. It’s much easier for that runoff to reach your foundation and cause hydrostatic pressure to build up, thus all the more reason to try and keep your gutters clean.
- Waterproofing your foundation – Finally, you always have the option of waterproofing your home. Most waterproofing measures help you create a hydrophobic barrier between your home and your yard. Others, like dehumidifiers, draw moisture out of the air before it can start to negatively impact your foundation. When you have these measures in place prior to signs of sinking, you’ll guarantee your home a healthier life than the one it would lead without them.
Want to protect your foundation from settling and sinking? Reach out to Alpha Foundations for a home inspection and a free quote.