What Causes Foundation Problems?

Foundation problems are often caused by unstable soil or erosion. Some houses are not built firmly on bedrock or high-load compacted dirt. Instead, they are built on looser fill dirt. Fill dirt is soil that has been moved or disturbed during the building process. The fill dirt under a house settles over time. Unfortunately, fill dirt under different parts of the same house often settles at different rates. If one area below the house settles faster than another, stresses in the foundation and structure develop. These stresses lead to cracks in the foundation, cracks in internal walls, and sinking, buckling, or leaning foundations.

Excessive ground or storm water entering the fill dirt near the house will exacerbate these problems by causing erosion below the foundation. Additionally, bulky organic matter left in the fill dirt during original construction, such as scraps of wood, decomposes over time. As it decomposes, it takes up less physical space, and the fill dirt sinks into the space that the matter used to occupy.