The home is, for most people, an investment that they make once in a lifetime. If there are any problems with the structural integrity of the home, like foundation settling, it can be, as they say, unsettling. Homes go through normal wear and tear over time, and it is necessary to differentiate between this and problems that call for immediate attention.
The foundation of a home is the one that takes on all the load of a home and helps in its structural integrity. Most homes have foundations made of concrete, reinforced by steel. Over time, concrete does harden, shrink and crack and it is the job of the steel reinforcement to hold it together. Natural changes also take place in soils on which the foundations are based and this can be because of time and weather. This can cause foundation settling which makes the home sink further into the ground.
Foundation settling can also happen when the soil is not prepared adequately before the foundation is placed on it. If the foundation is on clay, the soil can swell up and in case of drought, the clay can shrink and cause foundation settling that can be as high as five inches, even where proper care has been taken during the construction of foundations. It is this expansion and contraction of soils that is the main contributor to foundation settling problems in homes.
Foundation settling can be non-threatening, even where cracks are seen in foundations, but it is always necessary to be on the lookout for any telltale signs that indicate other foundation problems that many need immediate attention. A jagged crack in walls that run at forty five degrees indicated that the material has sheared, and that the foundation is shifting and causing the crack. When doors and windows do not close properly, or get jammed, it is a sure indication that their alignments are disturbed. Do check problems with hinges and hardware before rushing to any conclusion.
Monitor the sizes of any cracks that you notice. Lightly paper them over. The paper will tear if the crack is expanding. If this happens at very short time intervals, it is high time you called in the experts to look at your foundations and suggest remedies that can help you deal with the foundation settling. When such problems are addressed well in time, the damage will be minimal as will the expense. Fortunately, it is possible nowadays to carry out foundation repair, without disturbing the home and its residents in any major way. Neglect on the other hand may force you to even vacate the home for major surgery on the foundations of your home.
Related: Settling of a foundation