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The Home Depot

Why is My House Settling?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > General Contracting > Why is My House Settling?
Why is My House Settling?

As your home ages, you may notice specific signs of settling that can be cause for concern. The rate and amount of settling you see in a home depends on a variety of factors, including building techniques, materials and the soil in which your foundation sits.


If the subsoil surrounding your foundation is firm and the building practices were sound, any settling you notice should be nominal and within normal parameters. On the other hand, if settling begins almost immediately and you discern alarming shifts in the foundation of your home, you may have a serious problem.

  1. 1.Age of the Home

    A home’s foundation must withstand pressure from many different sources. The soil around the foundation presses in on the foundation – if the soil is settling unevenly, this can exacerbate the pressure on the foundation. The weight of the house itself also presses down on the foundation, creating even more pressure.


    Eventually, over time, a foundation may begin failing and you will notice indications of settling. The older the home, the more likely that the foundation is fatiguing at various places. This may result in signs of settling throughout the house and in the foundation walls itself.


    If your home was built on substandard soil, you may notice uneven floor joists and ceiling beams. You may also see cracks in the foundation, with foundation walls shifting inward.


    Incorrect soil moisture levels during construction can also cause settling because the foundation will either regain moisture too quickly from the overly moist soil, or moisture will seep out from the foundation into the surrounding dry soil.

  2. 2.Structural Issues

    You may notice vertical cracks along the foundation, which can create water problems in the basement.


    Bowed walls are another symptom of house settling, with foundation walls leaning or buckling under the pressure from the surrounding soil. You may also see wide cracks and even a tilted or uneven foundation due to the pressure and resulting weakening.


    It’s also possible that the entire foundation will begin sinking deeper into the soil, which can be a serious problem. Indications of sinking include strange tilting or slanting which creates skewed levels in the home. You could notice doors and windows not operating correctly if your house foundation is sinking.


    Floors can be another area where house settling becomes obvious. With heavy amounts of moisture, soil surrounding your foundation may begin expanding, which shifts the foundation. After the moisture dissipates and the soil contracts once again, it leaves a space between the shrunken soil and the foundation. The result could be cracked floor tiles and uneven flooring.

  3. 3.Stories Added to the Home

    Although you can drastically increase your living space by renovating to add another story to your home, you may pay for the extra living area with some foundational settling issues. If your current foundation is not strong enough to support the increased weight of the home, you may cause significant damage to the foundation. In addition, it’s also important for the taller home to have enough strength for wind resistance or you could experience more settling issues.


    Prior to adding another story onto your home, investigate the existing foundation and the subsoil around it to determine whether you can safely proceed. With a soil boring test, you will receive information and details about the soil to determine soil compressibility.


    If your foundation is already showing signs of settling and instability, it’s not wise to increase the load on it by adding another story.

  4. 4.Water Damage

    Seasonal moisture and a fluctuation of temperatures throughout the year can result in water moving through the soil around a foundation at a high rate of speed. This might also happen during drought conditions if heavy rainfalls saturate the soil quickly. As the water moves through the soil, it may permeate a foundation wall, which can cause settlement and cracking. The heavy pressure of the water can even cause the foundation to sink because it does not have adequate support in the soil.

  5. 5.Potential Problems

    With a settling home, you may experience several different problems that have the potential to impact your home, its value and your quality of life.


    If cracks in the foundation allow water to seep through, you will have a wet basement. The moisture in the basement may cause property damage to furniture, carpeting and flooring. The moisture may also create unhealthy mold and mildew problems.


    Sagging floors usually occur because the beams or posts that support them become damaged from the settling. Significant structural damage can occur from this level of settling.


    Bowed walls also indicate settling that is progressing to the point of cracking. Foundation walls will bow or bulge for a period of time until they eventually crack under the pressure.

  6. 6.Benefits of Repairing Potential Problems by Hiring a Professional

    When you notice significant house settling, it’s imperative that you repair these progressing problems before they become more serious. Because the issues involved with foundation damage and repair can be major, it’s generally best to hire a professional to perform the repairs. With a professional, you know that the work will resolve the issues safely, you will restore the curb appeal of your home, and you can increase the property value of your home as well.


    Drop by the Redbeacon website for help in hiring a professional who can resolve these settling issues for you. With the submission of a work request, you will receive a list of professionals who you might hire. Choose the contractor who fits your style and budget and Redbeacon will take charge from there, contracting with the professional, overseeing the work, collecting your payment and paying the contractor. You even have a satisfaction guarantee that will ensure you’re satisfied with the work.


    Stop the damage in its tracks before it takes a heavy toll on your home. House settling is not a symptom you should ignore.

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