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Common Foundation Defects That Could Affect Your Home

Foundation defects are surprisingly common, but they are also dangerous to your home. It’s important you understand how to spot them.

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Foundation defects can occur at any time. Whether they are caused by improper construction or damage at a later stage in a property’s life, foundation problems are serious and warrant your immediate attention. These are the most common foundation defects and problems that homes in Cleveland, OH, are likely to face as well as what causes them and what you can do to deal with them. 

uneven slab floor

The Most Common Causes of House Foundation Defects 

Foundation defects can be hard to spot, expensive to fix, and potentially disastrous for the property that they occur within. If left untreated they can cause structural instability, dampness, mold formation, and even collapse. So, as you can see, it pays to know your stuff and, thankfully, there are many recognizable signs of foundation damage you can look out for. 

Broadly speaking, there are two main causes of foundation defects: improper construction and damage. Improper construction includes properties where substandard materials were used or where planning errors were made. A good example of a planning error would be an architect not allowing for the weight of the property or type of soil when calculating the required foundation proportions. 

Damage, on the other hand, could be caused in many ways. The most common are: 

  • Soil saturation 
  • Excess hydrostatic pressure 
  • Soil dehydration/shrinkage 
  • Frost heave 
  • Flooding 
  • Natural disaster damage, e.g., as the result of an earthquake. 

The weather in Cleveland, OH, can be very wet and cold in winter, but summer often sees dry, hot weather. As a result, the soil in this area expands and contracts multiple times per year. Of course, properties are designed with this in mind, but if you do not have appropriate drainage and moisture management solutions in place this will be exacerbated. When the soil under your home moves dramatically, it does not support your home, which is the main cause of many foundation defects. 

Hydrostatic pressure can also cause damage to your foundation, but it is likely to also cause damage to your basement walls, if you have a basement, because of the way in which the soil presses on them. If your foundation defects have been caused by hydrostatic pressure, you may also notice cracks or bowing in your basement walls. 

3 Common Foundation Defects 

Without a doubt, the three most common foundation defects are settlement, sinking, and heaving. Each of these issues is caused by a unique set of circumstances and requires a unique solution. 


Settlement occurs when parts of a property’s foundation sink into gaps in the soil underneath it. This usually happens when drought and extreme soil dehydration cause the earth to shrink and crack. Your foundation can settle into these cracks if they become large enough. This is bad enough, of course, but when spring comes, these cracks will also let water into your home. 


Sinking is generally the result of excessive soil saturation or general unstable soil. When the soil under your property foundation is incapable of providing the required support your property can begin to sink. This is a serious issue, especially because properties rarely sink evenly, and when one end of your home sinks at an accelerated rate, it puts a strain on the whole structure. 


Foundation heave tends to affect smaller, lighter homes or properties with a foundation that is too thin and occurs most often in winter. This is because it is generally caused by snap freezes that cause the soil under the property to heave upward. This happens under every home, of course, but it can sometimes result in the foundation and floor of a property heaving or bulging upward. Like settlement, foundation heave can cause large cracks that let water into your home in the future. 

While there are many issues you can solve alone, foundation defects are not something you should take a DIY approach to. The repercussions of not addressing the issue properly can be too dangerous. 

If you are worried that you have foundation defects in your property, do not hesitate to call Ohio Basement Systems today! We offer free estimates with no obligation to book through us as well as flexible payment plans and transparent pricing systems. 

With decades of collective experience, we are one of the most reputable and skilled foundation repair firms in Cleveland. When you come to Ohio Basement Systems, you can rest easy knowing your home is in good hands.

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