Underpinning A House: The Main Causes Of Foundation Failure

Aaron - Search - September 27, 2022 - 0 comments

Underpinning A House: The Main Causes Of Foundation Failure

To ensure the health and longevity of your home or property, the foundations must perform correctly, always keeping you and other occupants safe. Foundation failure refers to the inability of a footing or foundation to support the weight of the structure above. This includes the piles, beams, piers or footings, as well as the failure of the soil beneath, causing the foundation to sink. There are many reasons your foundations may be at risk, and understanding the cause of the problem could act as a preventative, saving time and money in the future. 

Here’s what you need to know.

Symptoms of Foundation Failure

There are three foundation problems to look for to determine if you’re at risk of foundation failure.

  1. Concrete slabs are sinking or subsiding. 
  2. Cracks in the walls.
  3. Difficulty in opening or closing windows and doors.

If you are experiencing any of these, you should consider having a professional take a look.


What Causes Foundation Failure?

Poor Drainage

This is caused by short downpipes, full gutters, broken services or a lack of waterproofing. 

If there isn’t enough drainage around your foundation, the soil can become too wet, which makes the ground around the footings unstable.

Soil Condition

Clay soils can absorb large amounts of water; however, the pressure of this swelling can lift houses, or conversely, a deficiency of water will cause the clay to shrink, and the house position can drop. Not only that, but the poor quality of soil, organic materials in the soil, and debris can also cause the ground to expand or contract.

The Weather

Australian weather is always unpredictable, and while it can be hot one day, it might be pouring rain the next. This can also impact the foundations of a property. If the soil is hot and dry, such as in a drought, it can shrink, pulling the ground away from the foundation. On the other hand, if there’s a flood, it can become saturated, leading to the same result.

Plumbing Problems

If you have a problem with your plumbing that’s causing pipes to leak or drains to overflow, this can also create issues with the foundations. Too much water in the soil erodes or undermines it, causing the building to move. Cracks are a common sign of this occurring.

Slope Failure

Slope failure generally occurs in a landslide or a slow creeping of the soil around a property. In the case of creeping, it generally occurs over a long period, and even the most substantial underpinnings fail to stop it.

Poor Site Preparation

Before building construction, the soil must first be stabilised, with the suitable fill material compacted tightly down underneath the foundation. If this hasn’t been completed correctly or the soil is too soft or low-density, the building could start to sink into the ground.

Tree Roots

If trees or bushes are near a building, the tree roots could dry out the soil, causing the soil to shrink and the house to sink. As the trees get bigger, they pull water from the soil under a house’s foundation.

Heavy Vehicles

If a property is susceptible to high levels of heavy traffic, such as a construction site, or if you simply live on the main road, your slabs may experience slight movement. Over time, this small movement can create cracks leading to foundation failures.


How To Prevent Damage

You can prevent foundation problems by adequately analysing the ground soil and building the foundation on a hard soil layer. This is imperative to ensure a building is safe and secure. However, it may not stop all damage from occurring.

Other things you can do to prevent damage include:

  • Keep your gutters and downpipes clean to ensure the water runs where it needs to go
  • Have a gentle slope in your landscape, so any water runs downhill rather than pooling under the house
  • Put in drains where they are required, for example, if your yard has a lot of puddles or swampy areas
  • Reduce the amount of water in your yard by using a water-efficient sprinkler system
  • Keep plant roots away from home – make sure trees are by the boundary, not near the buildings
  • Fix any cracks right away. If you find any minor issues, contact a professional before they become big problems.


What Can Be Done About Foundational Failure?

While foundation problems are common, their repair isn’t something you should be attempting yourself, and you must have them taken care of at the first sign – before they get any worse. Raise + Relevel have the experience and skills you need for quality underpinning to reinforce the building’s foundations. 

At Raise + Relevel, we offer quality workmanship for an affordable price. Our team have over 50 years of experience in re-levelling buildings, and we offer a 75-year warranty on our resin products and a 10-year warranty on our work, which means that if the problem comes back, we’ll fix it again free of charge. 

Get in touch today to find out more.

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