Common Causes of Foundation Failure and Foundation Movement
- Season weather patterns: During dry, hot months, soils shrink allowing foundation settlement. During wet, cool months, the soils swell allowing foundations to rebound and often heave.
- Expansive clay soils.
- Improperly compacted fill will consolidate or "pack down" under the load of a home or building.
- Poor construction – some foundations are simply not adequate for the loads they carry.
- Tree roots.
- Plumbing leaks – whether they are in the supply lines or the waste lines, they usually cause foundation and/or floor movement.
- Poor site drainage is a common cause of foundation movement. Surface and subsurface moisture should be diverted away from the home.
The most common cause of foundation movement is the seasonal shrinking and swelling of expansive soils. During dryer months when moisture decreases, soils shrink allowing foundations to settle. During wetter months as moisture increases, soils expand and push up on foundations. At times, the soil will swell enough to raise foundations higher than their original elevation; this is referred to as heaving.
Poor site drainage is a common cause of foundation movement. Surface and subsurface moisture should be diverted away from the home or building in order to preserve the strength and desired elevation of the foundation system. Good site drainage is very important to prolong the life of a structure. Another cause of foundation movement is building on improperly compacted fill. Improperly compacted fill will consolidate or pack down under the load of a home or building. Moisture problems will contribute to consolidation of non-compacted fill.
Plumbing leaks are another common cause of foundation movement. These problems are often created during the initial construction of a home or building; however, leaks may not occur for many years. Our experience has been that plumbing leaks, whether they are in supply lines or in waste lines, always cause foundation and/or floor movement. If major foundation movement exists, plumbing tests are often recommended to check for plumbing leaks.
Poor construction is also a major cause of foundation movement. This problem often begins during the initial design of a home or building. Some foundation systems simply are not adequate for the areas and soil conditions in which they are used.