When your house starts looking like a fairy tale cottage because of its leaning chimney, it’s time to take action. A leaning chimney is never a good sign, and it means that your foundation is settling. A settling foundation can be harmless, or cause lots of problems. The good news is that Foundation Systems of West Virginia can help you understand what’s happening with your foundation.
The most likely, and common, cause of a settling foundation is just an average occurrence. If your home was built soundly and seems to have “settled” with some hairline cracks in your walls, this is completely normal and you most likely do not need to worry about it. All houses settle over time. The degree to which they settle, or if they settle and cause problems, is due to other factors.
Improper compaction of soil upon the initial build is a big reason that you may encounter a settling foundation that causes problems for you. The foundation will press evenly on the soil, but since it was not compacted correctly, it could sink greatly in some areas and stay in the original position in others. This is obviously a problem because it leaves your foundation with an uneven place to stand and that can cause cracks and worse.
Settling foundations can also be caused by the weather. In the winter or colder times of the year, the ground will freeze and thaw repeatedly. This frozen soil presses against the sides and bottom of the foundation unevenly and causes the same sort of damage that an unevenly compacted soil under the foundation would. It can lead to cracks, broken slabs, and possible eventual collapse. Additionally, the large cracks can let in water and pests–neither of which are welcome in your home.
Now that you know how it’s caused, how do you know that your house is settling? More importantly, how do you know that it’s something you should be worried about? There are a few answers to these questions.
As you look over your home, if you notice a leaning chimney, large cracks that seem to get bigger over time, sinking stairs or deck, cracks in the foundation floor, doors or windows that stick, or stair step cracks up the wall, you may have a settling foundation that needs to be resolved by a professional like those at Foundation Systems of West Virginia. We will provide you with a free estimate so that you can be sure that you’re getting the best price and the best service. If you don’t want to call right away for a crack, you can monitor the crack yourself by placing tape in the same spot on either side of the crack and checking it each day to see if it has moved. This will tell you, for something less obvious than a precariously tilting chimney or sunken stairs, that you should call in right away.
The best solution to the problem of a settling foundation is to use underpinning products. We use Earth Contact Products (ECP) underpinning because they’re well-known and trusted in the industry. They also help us to deliver a great service that’s still affordable and done well. Some of the products that would be used for a settling foundation could be: plate anchors, helical piers, foundation piers, or helical tiebacks. The choice would be dependent on your individual situation.
If your house is starting to look like a fairy tale cottage, it’s time to call Foundation Systems of West Virginia today. We can help you make your house safe and attractive once more. A settling foundation should be taken seriously, and we’re here to make it a less stressful experience.