Windows or doors sticking
If your windows or doors are sticking or jammed and you have cracks appearing on walls, it can be the first signs of foundation damage. If doors and/or windows are sticking and difficult to operate, swing open on their own or have gaps around them, the cause of these problems should be investigated. At worst, these minor issues may turn into serious structural problems, if they are ignored.
The cause behind these problems could be a sinking or otherwise unstable foundations. When the soil underneath a building can no longer support the load, the foundation starts to settle. This can happen due to a change in the soil conditions, so buildings of all ages are susceptible to foundation settlement. If you notice problems with doors and windows or cracks, you should start monitoring the extent of the problems and call us for a professional survey.
In order to choose the best solution, the cause of the problem must first be determined. The most common causes of foundation movement/settlement are:
Declining groundwater level
The presence of groundwater provides an upward force known as buoyancy, which also affects soil particles. When the groundwater level drops, the underlying soil layers are subjected to higher loading, which can cause a compression and, thus, a settlement of the foundation.
Flowing water, in particular, can erode soils that are located beneath a foundation. This causes a voiding of the soil layer and a loss of bearing capacity, leading to a settlement. The source of water can be rainfall or broken water pipes, among others.
Improperly compacted soil
If the coarse soil layer under load-bearing structures or floors was not properly compacted during construction, a settlement will occur.
A nearby construction activity, especially piling and excavations or heavy road/rail traffic, can cause a significant vibration in the underlying soil. This may cause a further compaction or liquefaction of sensitive soils, leading to a settlement.
In certain cohesive soils, variations in water content may cause volumetric changes. Very dry seasons or vegetation may cause the soil to lose moisture to an extent that it shrinks, causing cracks and even voids in the ground.
Inadequate foundation design
In the design phase of a building, the information on soil conditions may be insufficient, leading to design errors. Soil compressibility may be underestimated, which may cause a settlement
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