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What are the Causes of House Sinking?

Last modified: 2021-12-01 | Approximate reading time 3 mins

Between freeze and thaw cycles and bad weather, your house may show signs of sinking. Since this could cause major damages to the foundation, this article explains how it can be fixed.

Different signs could indicate that your house is currently settling. It is important that you watch out for them in order to quickly solve the situation if such an intervention is necessary.


The signs that you need to watch out for house settlement

As stated by LandMark Information Group,  house settlement (also known as house sinking or subsidence) happens due to the “vertical downward movement of a building foundation caused by the loss of support of the ground beneath the foundations". Such a house will be recognized through distinctive features such as:

  • Doors are hard to close even after many attempts to repair them;
  • Windows are also hard to open and to close;
  • Cracks forming on the foundation and on the walls, both interior and exterior;
  • Water infiltrations are happening;
  • Floors might start sloping;
  • Roof might show deformations;
  • Certain walls are curving;
  • The chimney is cracked;
  • Cracks are appearing on interior or exterior brick walls.

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What are the causes of house sinking?

Subsidence, or house settling, is often spawned by natural causes that are outside of our control as humans. It can also be the result of the soils around the building drying out, of trees with deep roots, of rapid urbanization in your neighbourhood or constant vibrations in the soil (especially if you live near a busy road). 

There could also be a problem with the building's foundation. If you have any doubts whatsoever, contact a general contractor or a building inspector to get a better diagnosis.

Tree root

The ideal solution: foundation stakes

Only a true specialist will be able to help you solve a foundation settling problem. This is a major task that will have a strong impact on the structural integrity of your home. Therefore, if it is not well done, other serious problems could occur, requiring extra repairs. Thankfully, there are possible solutions that rely on interesting and useful technologies.

The expert that you will call upon will visit your home to get a clear picture of the current state of things. Following their analysis, they will be able to present solutions that are best adapted to your situation. 

They will take into account the weight of the building, the dimensions and the ideal positioning of the steel stakes, as in most cases, the building will need to be stabilized and evened out using a system that uses said stakes. 

The stakes are installed in the ground to make it stable and to support the home. Most of the time, the work will be executed outside the house but it may happen that certain stages will need to be completed indoors. Of course, it must be noted that this is a permanent solution. 

In that regard, don't forget to ask the contractor whether they offer a warranty in terms of results. As a general rule, they should guarantee the stability of the stakes and the waterproofing of the foundations. 

In some cases, other actions will need to be completed, such as removing a tree that is harming the building's structural integrity.

Cracked cement

Doing things in the right order

House settling is a problem that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. This being said, it is important to make sure that things are done as they should be. 

Once a solution has been determined, you will have to apply for a permit with your local authorities, in order to validate the work. In general, the company with whom you are doing business will be there to help you with the formalities or will even do it for you. 

How to avoid house sinking problems in the future

Is the situation currently under control? Surely you don't want to relive this type of problem! To avoid being faced with it again, it's important that you devote a proper amount of time to maintenance. Of course, although certain causes of house settling cannot be controlled, certain actions on your part can help reduce risks. 

For example, we can act to prevent erosion by making sure that the soil around the house is very compact. In addition, it is recommended that you repair all the cracks that appear as soon as they are determined as active and potentially dangerous. 

Also make sure that you fix damaged pipes, that you clean your gutters and make sure that your home is properly weatherproofed. 

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