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It's the soil.
Here's the real dirt on foundation problems.
You might think your home rests on "solid ground." But, the ground beneath your home is actually made up of many different layers of soil, each with its own properties. Over time, these layers can wash out, soften as they are wetted or shrink as they dry out, causing your home's foundation to settle and crack.
While sandy soils are generally immune to moisture issues, clay soils are not. As clay soil gets wet, it retains water and becomes very soft. This soft soil can be weak, causing the home to sink down into it. Think of it like stepping onto a muddy field. Your foot "squishes" into the soil. When clay soil becomes wet and soft, your home's footing essentially does the same thing.
While too much rain can cause major problems, the lack of rain can cause its own issues. When dry periods extend for months or years, clay soil dries out and shrinks. As the amount of soil around your house shrinks, it creates an empty space for your home to settle into.
There's another issue that can affect your home and garage called "street creep." This happens when the street that runs past your home expands, putting pressure on your driveway. Over time, the joints between your street's concrete slabs fill with sand, pebbles and other incompressible material. As the weather warms and cools, the slabs expand and contract. But, because the joints between the slabs can't compress and absorb that expansion, the entire street expands or "creeps," eventually pushing against your driveway, which then pushes against your garage and home. This can cause all kinds of problems down the road.
Whatever the cause of your home's foundation issues, they can be stabilized using a combination of the right technology and expertise. Learn more about the different ways foundation problems can be addressed here.
During a heavy rainfall or a large snow melt, large amounts of water enter the soil surrounding your home. In rare cases, the speed and amount of water ingress can cause soil to wash away around or under your home, leaving empty space that cannot support the massive weight of your home and the structure above it. This can lead to part of your home's foundation cracking and settling as it sinks into these voids.
Poorly compacted fill soil
A common practice when developing neighborhoods involves removing soil from hilltops and placing it in valleys to create flat, buildable lots. When this fill soil is not well compacted, it can compress under the weight of the home, causing settlement. That means that entire neighborhoods can be prone to foundation settlement.
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