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Fact Sheet: Why Home Foundations Settle Over Time


Fact Sheet: Why Home Foundations Settle Over Time - Image 1

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Home foundations serve as the base upon which houses and structures are built. Over time, it is not uncommon for foundations to settle, meaning they gradually sink or shift in position. Several factors contribute to foundation settlement, which can result in various issues for homeowners. This fact sheet aims to provide an overview of why home foundations settle over time, focusing on key causes and potential consequences.

Soil Composition:

The type of soil upon which a home's foundation rests plays a significant role in its settlement. Different soil types have varying abilities to support structures. Expansive clay soils, for example, have a tendency to shrink and expand with changes in moisture content, leading to foundation movement. Sandy soils, on the other hand, may have poor load-bearing capacity, causing gradual settling over time.


Moisture Changes:

Moisture fluctuations in the soil around a foundation can lead to settlement. When soil becomes saturated with water, it can lose its strength, causing the foundation to sink. Conversely, during periods of drought or excessive dryness, the soil may shrink, creating voids beneath the foundation that result in settlement.

Poor Compaction:

In some cases, inadequate soil compaction during the construction process can lead to future foundation settlement. If the soil is not adequately compacted before the foundation is poured, it may compress under the weight of the structure, causing the foundation to sink over time.


Improper Drainage:

Inadequate drainage around a home can contribute to foundation settlement. When water is not effectively directed away from the foundation, it can accumulate and saturate the surrounding soil, leading to soil instability and settlement. Poorly designed or malfunctioning gutters, improper grading, and improper surface drainage can all contribute to this issue.


Structural Loads:

The weight and load-bearing capacity of a home can impact foundation settlement. Over time, changes in the structural integrity or load distribution due to renovations, additions, or poor construction practices can cause uneven settlement of the foundation. This can lead to visible cracks in walls, uneven floors, and other structural issues.

Consequences of Foundation Settlement:

  • Cracks in walls, floors, or ceilings
  • Misaligned doors and windows
  • Uneven or sloping floors
  • Sticking or jamming doors
  • Plumbing and drainage issues
  • Structural damage to the home

Prevention and Remediation:

While some degree of foundation settlement is inevitable, several measures can be taken to minimize the extent of settlement and address existing issues:

  • Proper site preparation and soil compaction during construction.
  • Implementing proper drainage systems, including gutters, downspouts, and slope grading away from the foundation.
  • Regular maintenance of existing drainage systems to ensure functionality.
  • Installing foundation underpinning methods such as steel piers, helical piers, or concrete pilings to stabilize the foundation.
  • Seeking professional assistance to evaluate and address foundation settlement issues.


Foundation settlement is a common occurrence that can affect homes over time. Understanding the causes and consequences of foundation settlement is crucial for homeowners to identify and address potential issues. By implementing preventative measures and seeking professional help when needed, homeowners can minimize the impact of foundation settlement and maintain the structural integrity of their homes. Remember! Foundation issues never get better (or less expensive) with time, they get better with us! If you have noticed any of the issues above, please contact us for a free, no-obligation estimate

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