Foundation Problems: How Do They Happen and How Do I Fix Them?

For most people, a house is not only the most expensive investment they make but a once-in-a-lifetime one. The foundation is the most critical part of the house. The walls, roof, paint, porch, rooms, etc. play a major role in the aesthetic beauty and comfort element of the house. The truth is that the foundation is what the house is built upon. If there are problems with the foundation, your house can fall off.

Most people assume that foundation repairs and maintenance mean tending to the cracks here and there. This is not the case. Moisture (water) is the main reason for foundation problems. Foundations can sink, shift or rise as the water content of the soil changes. Today, we will talk about the signs, reasons, and solutions to your foundation problems.

Major Signs of Foundation Problems

You can’t treat a problem if you are not even aware that you HAVE a problem, right? Similarly, it is important to know that you have a foundation problem before trying to solve it. Following are the major indicators that you have a foundation problem.

  • Cracks: Cracks inside and outside the house are the most prominent and common sign of foundation problems.
  • Change in house structure: Ever felt that your house was shrinking or rising? Did you feel a tilt in the house or a change in the structure? If you do, get it checked out as soon as possible. Your foundation might be sinking or settling
  • Problems with closing doors: Doors can become uneven. This causes problems in closing and opening the doors properly.
  • Gaps around doors and window frames: This is another sign of foundation problems.
  • Moisture around: Does the basement feel wet? Do you feel the moisture in the crawl space?
  • Cabinets coming out: If you feel that the cabinets are coming out or tilting to one sight, beware; it can be an issue in the foundation.

How Do Foundation Problems Happen?

Water is the major source of foundation problems. The change in moisture can cause the soil to change. When the soil takes in water, it swells. On the other hand, when there is not enough water in the soil, it will shrink. This causes movement of the foundation of your home. Some other reasons for foundation problems occur are discussed below.

Soil Dries and Shrinks

When it is very hot, water evaporates. Soil also dries out. When soil loses its water content and shrinks. The foundation is built in the soil and when the soil shrinks out, the foundation becomes unstable. This leads to shifting and cracks in the foundation. Another way the soil loses water is when the trees suck water.

Pro Tip: The trick is to water your trees and plants in the summers. When they get water from above, the roots will not take water from the ground.

Soil Swells by Absorbing too Much Water

Too much water can cause the soil to expand and swell. If the soil under the foundation absorbs excessive water, it will expand by swelling. When it swells, it will move upwards. The foundation of the home will also shift with the shifting sand. Hence, causing cracks in the floor, walls, and ceilings. At times, the house even feels like it is tilting to one side because of this.

Soil erosion can occur for several reasons. People wonder why the water content in the soil can rise by itself. This happens when there are floods, heavy rains of the snowmelt. It also occurs because of broken sewerage lines or plumbing leaks.

Improper Construction

Sometimes, your house is built in the wrong place. This is why it is important and required by law to carry out a soil test before construction. Clay sand absorbs a lot of water and can cause damage quickly. If there is a mixture of sand beneath your house, it can also be problematic. It can be possible that one type of soil holds water well and the other doesn’t. This will lead to differential settlement and eventually damage to the house structure.


Sinkholes are holes made in the ground because of the water draining from below. When there is no external drainage system, soil erosion occurs from where the water drains. This leads to caverns underground. So, it is important to keep an eye out for them.

How Do You Avoid Foundation Issues?

Now that you know how and why foundation problems can occur, it is time to know how you can avoid them. With a few simple steps and you can save your house from foundation problems.

Keep Spouts and Gutters Clean

Your drainage spouts and gutters should be clean all the time. Do it frequently. When gutters clog, it can lead to leaks. This water leaks and is absorbed by the soil.

Drain Water Away

The best thing is to avoid water collection on your soil. If you have frequent rainfall, drain the water away from your house. This can easily be done by building downspouts on the building. Ground drains should also be installed.

Sloped Landscape

Water tends to run downhill. To ensure water collection does not occur, you can construct a very slightly tilted landscape.

Drain Installation

If your garden tends towards marshy areas or puddles, you can’t do anything about it. In this situation, it is best to get French drains installed.

Avoid Root Plants

Root plants can take up a lot of water from the soil. Try avoiding having those near the foundation.

Repair the Cracks

The first thing you should do is to repair cracks and fissures in the structure. Other things can and should be done later.

Annual Inspections

Get your plumbing checked annually for any leaks or breakages

Your house’s structural integrity is very important. This is based on how good your foundation is. If the foundation is weak, the house will lose its structural integrity. Hence, it is important to know how and why foundation problems can happen and how you can avoid them!