Concrete Foundation Failure

Updated March 23, 2017

Concrete is often a component in home foundations to create a stable base for the house above. If the concrete in the foundation starts to fail, however, a number of problems can result. You can repair a failing foundation, and the sooner you notice the warning signs and symptoms of foundation failure, the easier it will be to repair.

Causes of Failure

Water is one of the leading causes of concrete foundation failure. Evaporation causes soil to pull away from the foundation while excess moisture from leaks or drainage problems washes soil away. Trees and other plants can cause water shortages as well when their roots draw moisture from the soil beneath the foundation. Other causes of foundation failure include improperly prepared soil that settles or shifts after the house construction is complete, poor workmanship or poor-quality concrete in the foundation.

Warning Signs

You can see the warning signs of foundation failure both inside and outside your house. Diagonal cracks from the corners of interior walls, doors and windows that don't open or close correctly, and warped or cracked floors are internal signs that the foundation is failing. External signs include cracked bricks, a shifting or rotating of walls, visible cracks in the concrete foundation and separations around doors and windows or garage doors.

Repairing the Foundation

Use a repair procedure appropriate for the cause and extent of the foundation failure. Eliminate drainage problems through landscaping to correct the drainage. Underpin of the foundation with deep, steel-reinforced concrete piers to stabilise foundations that have shifted due to improperly prepared soil or soil that has washed away. You may also need steel or helical piers depending on the weight of the house.

Preventing Failure

Preventing concrete foundation failure can start before you've poured the foundation. Make sure that the contractor you hired to pour your foundation prepares the soil properly and doesn't rush the pouring and finishing of the concrete. Once the foundation and house are in place, you can prevent damage by being aware of the potential causes of foundation problems. Hire a landscaper if you notice water refusing to drain from around your house or if trees and other large plants have roots too near the foundation. Keep an eye out for warning signs of problems, and get a foundation specialist to inspect your home if you believe there's a problem.

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About the Author

Born in West Virginia, Jack Gerard now lives in Kentucky. A writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience, he has written both articles and poetry for publication in magazines and online. A former nationally ranked sport fencer, Gerard also spent several years as a fencing coach and trainer.