Settling houses often have cracks in the drywall above doors, ceilings, and bricks. To fix the foundation requires a strong understanding of the building construction, the causes of the settlement, and foundation repair options.
When a house is settling, cracks begin to form because voids are created. One part of the house is staying still, while another part of the house is dropping. Most homes in the United States are constructed with hundreds of wooden boards fastened together with nails, screws, and wall materials to support several thousand pounds of structure. Diagonal cracks in the drywall and stair-step cracks in the brick are usually a definite sign of settlement.
The challenge with diagnosing houses with settlement is to determine exactly what is settling because there are multiple building components that could be the source of the settling. Since many things could be going wrong, a professional assessment is recommended.
Here are the main causes of a house settling with cracks in the drywall or brick:
- Floor supports, aka piers, are settling
- The exterior foundation has cracks and is settling
- Floor joists are sagging
- Support beams, aka girders, are bowing
- The heaviest weight in a home is not supported on top of the proper supports
- Joists or beams are moist and crushing under the weight of the home
- Walls were installed in between floor joists
- Partition walls were installed ‘Mid-Span’ between beams
- The house is shrinking due to a decrease in moisture
- The house is swelling due to an increase in moisture
While this list may seem long, a building expert trained in foundation repair should be able to identify the specific causes of the house settling and construct a plan that will halt future settlement.
Since there are so many causes of houses settling, there are many repairs. The main focus should be to permanently stabilize the house in the areas that are settling and control moisture.
Some of the main repairs we recommend for settling houses include:
- Add floor supports, aka Titan Crawl Jacks
- Add new beams as needed
- Sister floor joists
- Replace beams
- Reinforce beams
- Foundation push piers for cracked exterior footings
- Custom structural repairs, including removal and replacement of floors
- Control the moisture from crawl space flooding
- Control the moisture from the damp earth
- Control the moisture from outside humidity
These are only a few of the most common repairs we recommend but we do not condone a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Every house and crack should be diagnosed and assigned a repair solution based on the unique circumstances of that individual home, along with the homeowners preferences.