HELP! Why is The Ground Sinking Around My House?

June 7, 2021

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If you’re a homeowner asking, why is the ground sinking around my house, it’s vital that you get this issue under control as quickly as possible! Foundations rely on strong, stable dirt around them, and sinking soil can allow a foundation to eventually crack and crumble, or might indicate current foundation damage.

Crumbling soil often results from too much moisture in the ground, usually because of drainage issues. A foundation already bowing and bulging can also push out on the soil around it, leading to sinkholes or crumbling dirt.

Even if your property’s soil or the structure’s foundation is sinking, you can typically treat the property with additives for proper compaction, and take other corrective measures to ensure proper drainage and stability. Foundation damage can also be addressed, even if the concrete is currently showing severe cracks, chips, and sinking sections.

house sinking foundation damage

The sooner you address these issues the better it is for you, as ignoring foundation damage only allows it to get more extensive, resulting in even costlier repairs! If you’re concerned about your structure’s foundation, note a few added details about sinking or crumbling soil on your property, and then call a foundation repair contractor near you as needed.

Why Is the Ground Sinking Around My House?

While a foundation inspector is the best source of information for why the ground might be sinking around your house, and can also note a foundation’s condition overall, check out some added information about sinking soil around a home. This will help you better understand their suggestions for improving your property’s condition and protecting foundation concrete!

  • Soil often expands when wet and then contracts when dry; this cycle can put pressure on a foundation and create pockets where the soil doesn’t offer proper support. These pockets can lead to weak areas and eventual cracks or a bowing foundation.
  • Overly moist or very dry soil doesn’t stay compacted so as to provide a foundation with needed support, which can then allow a foundation to crack and crumble in various areas.
  • Foundation concrete also absorbs moisture from overly moist soil which then weakens its cement binders, allowing that concrete to crack and crumble.
  • In some cases, excessive vibration in the ground or large-scale excavation can loosen soil, so it’s not as compact as needed to provide foundation support.

How Do You Stop Ground Sinking?

ways to stop a sinking foundation

Since poor drainage or overly dry soil are common reasons for ground sinking, you might note some helpful tips for improving your property’s soil moisture levels. A landscaping engineer or foundation repair contractor can offer added tips for your property as well.

  • A French drain installation is a series of pipes installed just a few inches underground. These pipes capture moisture at various points along the property and then direct that water to a nearby drain or even a landscaping feature that needs a bit of extra watering!
  • Retaining walls block moisture in the soil before it can reach the home’s perimeter.
  • Landscaping helps prevent soil erosion while also keeping layers below the topsoil firm and hydrated properly. Consider adding landscaping shrubs around your home, for better soil conditions overall.
  • You might not associate clogged gutters with moist soil, but gutters are designed to direct rainwater and melting snow to downspouts, which then also direct that water away from the home. Keep gutters clean and clog-free and ensure they’re sized properly and in good condition to protect your home from foundation damage.
  • If the gutters are clean and clog-free but rainwater still pools around a home’s foundation, you might invest in downspout extensions or splash blocks. Extensions attach to the end of downspouts, helping direct water far from the home, while splash blocks sit under the downspout, also preventing water from collecting near the foundation.
  • Plumbing leaks inside or outside the home can allow that leaked water to pool around the foundation, leading to heaving and eventual sinking. It’s vital you schedule needed plumbing repairs and keep those pipes in good condition, to prevent foundation damage.

Cost to Fix a Sinking Foundation

foundation inspection

House leveling, also called slab jacking, is often the best option for fixing a sinking foundation. House leveling uses a specialty slurry or grout mixture, pumped underneath a sinking or settling foundation section. Hydraulic equipment lifts the foundation section back into place.

That grout mixture then dries and hardens, helping to keep the foundation strong and stable. This prevents more sinking and foundation crumbling. Along with house leveling, a foundation repair contractor might attach steel pins to the foundation, which also helps to keep it in place.

House leveling itself can cost anywhere from $500 to $1300, according to Home Advisor. However, those steel pins also typically cost anywhere from $500 to $1000 or more each, so your total cost will depend on how many pins are needed to keep your home level and even.

Additional repairs also add to your costs. These repairs include patching up foundation cracks and interior and exterior wall cracks. You might also need to repair or replace damaged ceiling tiles and flooring and cracked roofing materials. Foundation cracks also let in moisture that can lead to mold growth, which also needs cleanup and removal.

House Sinking vs. House Settling

Homes tend to settle naturally over the years, as foundations shift in the soil and under the weight of that structure. You might even hear some creaks and groans in the home as framing materials rub against each other or you put weight on the home’s subflooring, and this is typically normal.

While minor settling is not worrisome, a sinking home will usually need foundation repair and other intervention, to keep damage to a minimum! If you notice horizontal cracks along foundation surfaces or on interior and exterior walls, this is often a sign that the home is settling and needs foundation repair.

As a home settles, other surfaces and building materials also show cracks and damage. Baseboards and crown molding might pull away from the wall, while drywall nails tend to pop out of place. Window and door frames become crooked, so doors and windows tend to stick.

In some cases, a homeowner might also notice that their home’s surfaces are no longer level. Items might tend to slide along shelves, or balls and other objects might start rolling on the floor without help! Artwork might also remain crooked no matter how many times you straighten it. If you notice any of these signs in your home, it’s time to schedule foundation repair and house leveling.

sinking foundation problems

Does a House Ever Stop Settling?

A house might settle slightly over the years or stop settling in time if the foundation is strong and stable. However, a home rarely stops sinking on a weak foundation, and cracks, chips, and other damage will only get worse the longer it’s ignored.

Along with foundation damage, secondary damage such as wall cracks and buckled floors also tend to get more pronounced and severe the longer you ignore foundation issues. While a home might not outright collapse, basement walls and ceiling tiles can crumble, causing costly damage and risking injury to anyone in the vicinity.

When Should I Worry About My House Settling?

Hairline cracks in foundation concrete are not always unusual and don’t necessarily need repairs. This is especially true for new concrete, as it tends to expand and contract during the curing process, resulting in tiny surface cracks.

However, a homeowner should never assume that all concrete cracks are normal! Horizontal cracks and especially those deep enough to insert a coin or fingernail need immediate patching. Cracks running in a zigzag pattern along concrete blocks, such as those used to make basement walls, also indicate a weak foundation needing repairs.

Homeowners also do well to be alert to other signs of severe foundation damage, such as interior and exterior wall cracks, crumbling chimney stacks, buckling floors or floor tiles pulling away from the subflooring, and gaps around window and door frames. You might also notice gaps in the corners of rooms where wall panels should meet seamlessly. These indicators all mean it’s time to schedule a foundation inspection for potential repairs!

foundation repair contractors

Ignoring Foundation Problems

Foundation cracks, chips, and other damage only tend to get worse over time, as said. A settling home will then continue to sink so that secondary damage such as interior wall cracks and damaged flooring also gets more extensive!

While a home might not collapse due to a weak foundation, this doesn’t mean that it’s safe to live in a home with foundation issues. Bowing basement walls can crumble and cracked ceiling tiles can collapse, risking injury to anyone in the vicinity. Buckled floors and dislodged tiles also risk tripping hazards and resultant injuries.

Moisture seeping in through those foundation cracks also risks unhealthy, damaging mold growth, which also gets worse the longer it’s ignored! Mold holds moisture against wood framing, leading to rot and cracking. Insects and other pests are also attracted to that moisture, which can then mean an unpleasant and unhealthy infestation in the home.

Homeowners should also remember that a damaged foundation can affect property values! Homebuyers are less likely to pay full price for a home with a damaged foundation if they submit a bid on that home at all. Correcting a sinking foundation and the cause of that damage quickly protects your home’s value and protects it from secondary damage over the years.

repairing settling foundation

Dallas Foundation Repair Specialists is happy to bring this information to our readers and hopefully, it helped you answer the question, why is the ground sinking around my house? If you’re in the area and need foundation crack repair or house leveling services, turn to our trusted Dallas foundation repair contractors. We offer convenient appointments and stand behind all our work with a full guarantee! For more information, give us a call today.

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