The torrid summer seems to be coming to an end. You may have survived the heat without major foundation problems but don’t become too complacent. Those who have good drainage and managed to keep the soil from pulling away from the foundation should be in good shape.
Those who have allowed the soil to pull away from the foundation may be in for a shock when the rain arrives. Sudden heavy rains may allow large amounts of water to be pulled under your foundation and become trapped under the slab or in crawl space on Pier and Beams.
The water becomes trapped in the soil and the clay soil will expand, likely lifting areas of the slab, causing the very signs that most attribute to settlement. With P and B constructions the soil around the piers becomes moist pushing the piers up and causing unlevel floors.
No matter what your foundation, slab or pier and beam, the signs of distress are the same as with settlement, however the correct treatment is not the same as settlement.
Settlement is the result of support being removed from beneath a portion of either a slab foundation or from the perimeter beam, or a pier, or piers of a pier and beam foundation.
Upheaval is the result of a portion of either a slab foundation or the perimeter beam, or a pier, or piers of a pier and beam foundation being lifted.
When settlement occurs, the low area should be lifted, when upheaval occurs the raised area should be allowed to dry out and return, down, to near as built.
Foundation companies sell piers, which lift structures, and foundation repair companies would like for all foundation movement to be corrected by piers. My observations over the last 30 years have shown me that the majority of foundation movement includes upheaval and does not need piers. Be sure you home has settled before installing piers. Elevations will not tell you whether settlement or upheaval has occurred. Elevations will only tell you that the foundation is not level.
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