Foundation Problems: The Warning Signs

Often a distressed or settling foundation will display observable warning signs. These include: cracked drywall and bulk heads; misaligned windows, doors and moldings; cracks in the foundation; water leaks from the basement wall or floor; cracked or misaligned brick; tilted chimneys; bowed foundation walls; and flashing or siding pulling away from the home.

Cause of Structural Foundation Issues?

There are many ways a foundation can be damaged. While there are some causes you wouldn’t expect such as overly acidic soil, the usual culprits are trees, especially willows whose roots can penetrate and separate blocks or even compromise poured concrete. Another thing that damages a foundation over time and may push it in, is substandard backfill containing big stones that exert lateral pressure on a foundation wall. It is common for older homes to have concrete steps attached to a foundation and the simple weight of these make them lean forward. This exerts a lot of strain on the foundation as well as creating an unsightly entrance. Having a driveway adjacent to a foundation can also damage it. With the weight of vehicles and frost being driven down below the footing, the resulting heave can crack the foundation and lateral pressure can push it in. A worst case scenario for foundation damage happens when a home is built on disturbed soil or on soil that contains large boulders. While the weight of the foundation and home will compress the soil, the boulders remain intact and create stresses that will crack a foundation. In such cases, underpinning is often the only solution.

Preventing and Detecting Foundation Damage

If you want to detect or prevent foundation damage, consider the following:

  • Look for leaky plumbing — it is one of the main culprits that can lead to wet basements.
  • Make sure the area around your home has a proper drainage system. Improper drainage leads to excess water and moisture build up, which affects the soil and could result in foundation damage and erosion.
  • Ensure that trees are planted far enough from the house because tree roots can absorb moisture from the soil nearby and beneath the foundation, causing soil shrinkage and uneven settlement of the home.
  • When prepping a building site in cut-and-fill situations (where soil is taken from one part of the site and stacked in another part), ensure proper soil stabilization before the build.  Otherwise unexpected movement of the soil underneath the foundation can occur. Improperly compacted soil in cut-and-fill situations can also cause uneven settlement, which could eventually lead to structural damage.
  • Ensure the soil conditions at the site are ideal for a build. Poor soil conditions (poor soil, organics, debris, etc.) can cause unexpected soil expansion or consolidation, which contributes to structural foundation problems.

If you suspect you have foundation damage and need an assessment to see what repair or restoration work might be required we serve the Ottawa region.  Our services including waterproofing, interior water control systems and structural repairs for foundations as well as basement lowering.  All our foundation repair jobs carry up to a 25-year guarantee. Our goal is to set things right and put your mind at ease!