What Causes Foundation Problems

When a home is constructed, the soil plays a major role in the structural soundness of the foundation. Over time, water, heat and other acts of nature can cause a foundation to sink or shift.



  • Plumbing Leaks – Plumbing leaks sometimes go unnoticed. Over time, as water or sewage, leaks under the home, it begins to pool around the foundation on the soil. Wet soil expands, causing a foundation to settle atop of the new soil formation.
  • Improper Gutters – Gutters that do not properly divert water away from the foundation, often causes dampened soil to expand, causing the foundation to shift or sink.
  • Evaporation – After rainfall, water evaporates, often leaving soil very dry. When soil dries it shrinks, thus, causing foundations placed atop the soil to sink or settle.
  • Transpiration – Plants absorb water resting on soil. When plants absorb water that has dampened soil, it dries up soil in close proximity, and can often leave soil too dry. Soil dryness and shrinkage lead to foundation sinkage.
  • French Drain Failure



  • Poor Soil Conditions – There are many variables that can contribute to foundation failure. One of the main causes for a foundation to settle in the Southeastern region of the United States, is the soil. In this region, the soil is referred to as Ultisols. This soil is found in humid regions and is composed of many particles that form a clay like texture. Soil that is clay-like allows for movement, shrinking and expansion. Thus, when a home’s foundation is built on ever changing, clay-like soil, changes in moisture levels and other Earthly components, cause the soil to move and re-form. When a foundation is built on top of soil that has shrunk or expanded, the foundation is forced to move/settle.

Other Acts of Nature

  • Maturing Tree Roots – Tree roots grow and reach outwardly over time. Trees near a home can often wreak havoc on foundations.
  • Shrubbery Roots – While trees and shrubs often add curb appeal to homes, when planted too closely to the home, can often wreak havoc on foundations.


  • Improper Soil Preparation – When a foundation is poured, it is important that the soil is tightly compacted before slab or blocks are installed. Failure to do so, can create foundation settlement.
  • Poor Foundation Preparation – Since foundations are created using concrete, in some shape or form, improper installation of concrete (poured too thin, lack of steel or rebar, using broken blocks) can lead to improper foundation functionality.