Serving Mid, Western and Northern Michigan,
Kalamazoo, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Traverse City
Thursday, November 15th, 2018 by Amanda Waldmann
Maybe your doors and windows are a little harder to close. Maybe your desk chair keeps rolling across the room. Maybe you’ve noticed cracks in your door frames. Whatever the first sign of your home sinking was, it probably stressed you out and made you start Googling things like “IS MY HOUSE GOING TO COLLAPSE.”
The answer is probably “no.” If you leave the problem unattended for too long, that answer could turn into “yes,” which is where we come in. The best first step to address your home sinking or settling is to set up a free inspection and let us determine the problems and solution. But today, I’m going to talk about a few main reasons why it might be happening.
1. Soil Washout
Some types of soil - like those with a high clay content - are more prone to erosion. A naturally high water table can also affect soil stability. Even encroaching tree roots or nearby construction can cause soil to shift and disperse. And when the soil under the footer of your home’s foundation erodes, it leaves your foundation vulnerable. With empty air below and the weight of a house above, the footer can sink, settle, or even crack.
This sudden shift is what leads to the symptoms mentioned in the first paragraph. As the foundation goes off-kilter, it creates a chain reaction until every floor of the house isn’t level.
Our helical pier system transfers the weight of the home from the unstable soil to steel piers anchored in deeper, solid soil. This prevents further settling and has the potential to lift the home to its original position.
2. Frost Heave
It’s fitting that we talk about frost heave as we enter the closing weeks of fall and the temperatures start swinging past the freezing mark. Late fall and early spring are the times when frost heave is most prevalent, as temperatures fluctuate and the ground freezes and thaws. Each time the temperatures drop, water in the ground freezes and contracts. Then, as temperatures rise, the groundwater thaws again and expands. This puts pressure on your foundation walls and can cause them to lean and bow.
Much like soil erosion causes trouble for your footer, frost heave creates issues for your walls. As walls bow, the weight of the house on top of them can cause them to crack and shift more. This, again, causes a chain reaction up through the home.
We have a variety of wall stabilization systems to prevent further bowing and, in some cases, straighten bowing walls. Carbon armor straps, Powerbraces, and GeoLock wall anchors are all possibilities, depending on your basement’s unique needs and space requirements.
3. Crawl Space Issues
If your floors feel like they’re sinking - maybe there’s a slant in just one room, or there’s an overall squishy, spongy feeling - the problem might lie within your crawl space. In a humid crawl space, the support joists can be overtaken by mold and start to lose structural integrity. As the joists break down, they stop supporting the subfloor and the floor above them - that is, your now spongy kitchen (or bedroom, or bathroom) floor.
Our SmartJack crawl space support posts are anchored in the ground and used to stabilize joists. In the event of severely rotting beams, we can sister new wooden or even steel beams for extra protection. We also recommend encapsulation with our CleanSpace system and the installation of a SaniDry dehumidifier to prevent further moisture related problems.
No matter what the cause, it’s always stressful when your home has structural problems. This is one of those things you can’t tackle yourself, so call us to set up your free inspection and estimate.