Is Your House Foundation Sinking? [and how to fix it]

July 3, 2023

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The foundation is one of the most essential parts of the home. It stabilizes the walls, the floors, and the roof of the house. But of all the home maintenance work that homeowners get done to their homes regularly, this is probably one that gets overlooked repeatedly. Unless there is something wrong with the foundation, such as a leak or cracks that show, homeowners probably don't spend much time seeking out problems with the foundation. Unfortunately, this could be why your house is sinking, and you don't know it. How do you know you're experiencing a house foundation sinking, and what can you do about it?

Importance of a Stable House Foundation

A stable foundation is critical to keeping your home structure intact. Whether you have a slab foundation, basement, or crawl space foundation, it is critical that it be structurally sound so that other parts of your home won't deteriorate. A solid foundation not only protects the overall structure of the house but also prevents damage to walls, floors, ceilings, and more.

If something is wrong with your foundation, You could experience leaks in your home. These leaks could become a source of mold or pest infestations. Additionally, cracks in the foundation and severe damage to your foundation could lead to partial or total collapse of the home's structure.

Foundation repair may not be high on your list of priorities, but it is a good idea to start getting regular inspections annually. This will allow contractors to detect problems early to address them before they become costly. Keeping your foundation solid not only protects your home but also preserves the property value of your home.

Signs of a Sinking Foundation

Ultimately, the best way to know that your foundation is sinking is to have a structural contractor examine your foundation. Some foundation companies provide free inspections, while others charge for inspection services. A contractor can determine if your foundation is sinking, even if it doesn't seem obvious.

Although a contractor is the best way to determine the state of your foundation, there are some ways that you will know that your foundation could be sinking.

One of the most obvious signs that your foundation could be sinking is that you will start to see cracks in the walls or ceilings. Some cracks may be cosmetic, while others could be more severe. Serious cracks are usually larger than 1/8 inch. If you are starting to notice damages of any kind in your home, it is a good idea to call a foundation expo.

Another sign your foundation may be singing is that you noticed that the floors seem uneven. If you experience vertigo when walking back and forth across the floors, chances are your foundation is sinking and requires leveling. Another way to check if your floors are uneven is to place a marble at the center of the floor and see if it rolls in any direction. If the marble rolls, this could indicate uneven floors related to a foundation problem.

Still, another significant sign indicating that you could have problems with your foundation is that you have doors and windows that don't close properly. Remember that this problem could be strictly related to the windows and doors if they are old or have been painted shut. So don't assume all window and door problems are related to a foundation issue. But to be sure, having a foundation contractor check your foundation is a good idea to ensure that problems with your windows and doors aren't related to foundation issues. 

One more sign that may not be as obvious as the previous ones could be that your chimney is detaching from the house or cracking. While this could be a problem with the chimney, this could also be an indicator that something is going wrong with your foundation. 

Understanding House Foundation Issues

house foundation sinking

There could be several reasons why your foundation may be having issues. One of the most common reasons your foundation may have poor issues is that it wasn't constructed properly. The development company may have cut corners with the foundation to meet timelines and budgets. As a result, this could be the reason your foundation is sinking or settling. 

Sometimes no matter how well-built your own foundation is, the soil type under your home could be the source of problems. If your soil has too much sand in it, there's a possibility that water moves it too quickly from underneath your home's foundation, causing it to sink. If your house is situated on expansive clay soil, it may cause your foundation to lift upwards, known as foundation heaving.

Another common problem with your foundation may result from underground pipes that have burst, causing issues with the foundation. Water could wash away the soil underneath your home, which could cause the house to sink. The water from burst pipes could mix with clay soil and create hydrostatic pressure. This could cause the foundation to collapse. 

Assessing Your Foundation 

As mentioned before, there are some ways for you to determine that you have foundation problems by observing issues in your home. These include problems with the windows, unlevel floors, and other apparent signs like cracks. But the best way to know the state of your foundation is to hire a professional inspector. 

A foundation inspector will start by checking for leaks in the foundation. If there are leaks present, this means that there are cracks or holes within the foundation. Some cracks and holes may be easily fixed by a sealant or waterproofing paint. However, some cracks and holes may be so severe that they will have to use a specific type of foundation repair to close them.

The foundation inspector will also check for unusual smells or mold, which could indicate water is getting into the foundation. Upon completing the inspection, a structural contractor will create a detailed assessment report outline what the problems with the foundation and the best solution for the problem.

Fixing a Sinking Foundation

A foundation inspector will recommend the best solution for fixing your foundation problem. However, here are a few common fixes that they may recommend.


Slab jacking is one of the simple fixes for a foundation issue. If the soil has shifted underneath a slab foundation, a foundation team may drill a small hole. They will then pump a concrete mix into a small hole to lift the foundation back into place. This fix could last upwards of 10 years or more.

Steel Pier Installation

Another common way foundation contractors may fix a sinking foundation is by installing steel piers. With this process, they will lift the house and drive down steel piers into the ground as far as possible. What's the piers are firmly planted, the house will lie on top of the pier, which lifts the house back into place. This will close off the cracks in the home. They will then seal the cracks with epoxy or some other sort of seal to ensure that the small remaining cracks do not allow in air, water, or pests. 

Preventing Future Foundation Problems

You may be wondering how to prevent foundation problems in the future. Here are some of the best ways to keep costly foundation repairs to a minimum.

Regular maintenance and inspections

One of the absolute best ways to make sure that you avoid major foundation problems is to get regular inspections and maintenance annually. Waiting too long between inspections can result in significant damages that could lead to costly repairs. Minor foundation repairs could be a couple of hundred dollars. In contrast, major foundation repairs could cost tens of thousands of dollars. It is ideal to catch these issues while they are small to avoid significant damage to your entire home's structure.

Keep Gutters Clean and Maintained

One of the significant sources of foundation problems may not even be related to the foundation. You'll be surprised that some foundation problems arise from the home's roof. This is because gutters aren't properly channeling water away from the house. Clogged gutters could cause water to leak over the sides of the gutter into the foundation of the home. Also, if the base of the gutters isn't pointing far enough away from the foundation, this could cause water to seep into the foundation and cause damage. Gutter extenders can help channel water properly farther away from the house and keep the foundation safe.


waterproofing and crawl space encapsulation

Waterproofing is another option for keeping water out of your foundation and causing costly problems. Although many foundations are made of concrete and concrete is a hard surface, it is still porous. This means that water can seep through the pores of the foundation, creating leaks and mold problems. Sealing your foundation can help keep moisture out of your foundation.

Another way to waterproof your foundation, particularly if you have a crawl space, is to get crawl space encapsulation. This involves installing plastic vapor barriers on the floor and walls of the foundation to keep moisture at a minimum. If your crawl spaces suffer from major moisture problems, it is a good idea also to install a dehumidifier. This will reduce the amount of moisture in the crawl space. 

Proper Drainage and Grading

Another way to prevent problems with your foundation is to ensure that your yard has proper drainage. If your landscaping isn't properly graded, pools of water can form in your yard, seeping into your home's foundation. A landscaping company can help ensure that your yard has proper grading. This will allow rainwater to drain off it properly and not leave pools of water that last several days after it rains. Another option is to install a French drain that can help channel water off the property.

Installing a Sump Pump

sump pump installation and repair

Another way to avoid foundation problems is to install a sump pump. One major foundation problem that could arise over time is bowing, particularly if you have a basement foundation. This happens when the hydrostatic pressure of the water and the soil outside your basement walls mix. Then it puts pressure on the walls, which causes them to bow inward. Over time this could cause your foundation to collapse and destroy the structural integrity of your home. To avoid this phenomenon, a foundation contractor will install a sump pump. This will help remove water from the soil and redistribute it back outside so that it can drain off the property. A sump pump relieves pressure on the basement walls and minimizes the chances of hydrostatic pressure destroying the basement foundation.

This information is presented by our team at Champaign Foundation Repair Experts. If you'd like to get in contact with us, please reach out to our team.

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