OBS crew on job site with shovel

Foundation Settlement & Sinking

Signs of a settling foundation can be very subtle at first — many homeowners can go months or even years before noticing a crack in their foundation.

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The Problem:

Your home is showing signs of damage related to foundation settlement.

exterior brick wall with tape measure

Telltale Signs:

  • Stair-Step Cracks In Brick Or Concrete Block Foundation Walls
  • Leaning, Tilting Chimneys
  • Cracks Around Doors & Windows
  • Jamming, Sticking Doors & Windows
  • Cracks In A Concrete Slab Floor
  • Cracks In Drywall

How to Fix It:

We fix foundation settlement issues by installing steel foundation piers. These piers will extend beneath the foundation, contacting strong supporting soils that will permanently stabilize your structure.

Identifying Foundation Settlement Issues

Signs of a settling foundation can be very subtle at first — many homeowners can go months or even years before noticing a crack in their foundation. The long-term damage from foundation settlement, however, is ongoing and will lead to more severe foundation problems.

Signs Of Foundation Settlement

As a foundation settles, many telltale signs will become evident. What follows are some of the most common ways that foundation settlement can become visible to the homeowner.

stairstep cracking on brickstairstep cracking on brick

Stair-step cracking is one of the surest signs of foundation settlement and is very common in brick in concrete block walls.

As the settlement continues, vertical cracks may widen or become uneven as wall sections tilt away from each other, indicating more severe displacement.

Keep an eye out for cracks that are wider at the top than at the bottom, as this is a sign of advancing settlement.

Tilting chimneys that are separating from the home are one of the most intimidating and dramatic signs of a settling foundation.

Sometimes a chimney is built on a footing that is not connected to the house foundation, making it even more at risk of settlement.

Often, the soils that the crawl space supports are installed on are not strong or solid enough to support the weight being transferred from the home. Weak supporting soils will allow your existing crawl space columns to sink or settle, often creating a gap between the top of the column and the bottom of the girder it supports.

Once the column has settled, the girder above will begin to sag as well.

Gap in windowGap in window

An opening cut in any wall is a weak point, so signs of foundation settlement often show up around door and window openings located above settlement areas.

Doors and windows frames may be racked out of square. Cracks may extend from the corners above doors and windows. Doors may separate from the framing or exterior finish. Other signs of foundation settlement include sticking, jamming doors and windows and locks that stop working.

crack in slab floorcrack in slab floor

Cracks in your concrete floor slab can be a sign of foundation settlement, but they may also be a sign that the slab floor alone has settled.

There are times when your slab floor may sink or lift independently of the foundation walls, damaging the floors but not necessarily the walls.

Cracks in drywall throughout the house are reliable indicators of foundation settlement. Cracks will often be larger and more obvious in the home’s upper levels.

Typical drywall cracks during foundation settlement are commonly located at the corners of doors and windows and along drywall seams. Drywall tape can also be a good indicator, especially if it’s ripping or coming loose. Drywall cracks can also be a sign of sinking crawl space supports, sinking floors, and heaving floors.

Repairing Foundation Settlement

At Ohio Basement Systems, we recommend installing foundation piers to stabilize, repair, and restore a foundation that’s been damaged by issues related to foundation settlement and poor supporting soils.

There are several different types of foundation piers; each one is designed to address a different kind of foundation problem. We install three different kinds of foundation piers: push piers, helical piers, and slab piers.

Push piers connect the foundation to strong, stable soil or bedrock.

Foundation piers attach to the base of the foundation with special brackets and extend through settling and unstable soil layers, transferring the weight of your home to competent soils or bedrock.

Foundation Push Piers

A graphic diagram of foundation piers installed along a foundation.

Foundation push piers are straight, steel piers that attach to your foundation and extend far below the structure to strong supporting soils.

During the installation, a section of the foundation footing is exposed and cut to attach to each pier’s bracket. This is possible from either inside or outside of your foundation.

Foundation brackets are secured to the footing, and tubular pier sections are hydraulically driven through each bracket. Pier sections continue to be driven downwards until the piers meet competent strata.

When all push piers have been installed, they will work in unison to transfer the weight of the structure to the strong soils or bedrock below. If possible, the home is also lifted back to its original, level position.

Illustration of foundation helical piers stabilizing a home.

Like push piers, helical piers are attached to the foundation by mounting a bracket. Helical piers include rotating blades that are advanced (or “screwed”) into the soil.

Foundation Helical Piers

A graphic illustration of steel helical piers supporting a home foundation.

Foundation helical piers are straight, steel piers that have helical blades welded to each shaft. This installation is possible from either inside or outside of your foundation.

These piers are driven into the soils underneath your foundation, then each pier is connected to the structure’s foundation via a steel bracket.

During the installation, a section of the footing is exposed and cut for each bracket. Next, round-shaft helical piers are mechanically advanced into the soil. Once the helical pier has been advanced into the soil, a foundation bracket is secured to the footing.

When all helical piers have been installed, they will work in unison to transfer the weight of the structure to competent soil. If possible, the structure is also lifted back to a level position.

Slab piers can stabilize a settling concrete slab.

When the soil beneath a concrete slab shrinks or settles, the slab itself is also likely to settle, often cracking in the process. Slab piers restore stability by connecting the slab to competent soil at greater depth.

Slab piers are not appropriate for supporting foundation walls or repairing damage caused by foundation heave.

Slab Pier Systems

An illustration of slab piers supporting a concrete slab floor.

Foundation slab piers are straight steel piers that extend from stable soils deep below the structure to support brackets directly in contact with the underside of the slab.

These piers are meant to support a settling concrete floor and are not appropriate for foundation wall stabilization. Slab piers are also inappropriate for repairing heaving foundations.

During installation, a small hole is cored through the concrete floor. A slab bracket is assembled beneath the concrete slab, and steel tubes are hydraulically driven down through this bracket.

When the slab piers have reached competent soils, the weight of the slab is transferred through the piers to load-bearing soils below. If possible, the slab is lifted back to level position.

At the end of the installation, grout is pumped under the slab to fill any voids, and all cored holes in the slab are restored with new concrete for a clean, professional look.


We Repair Settling Foundations in OH!

At Ohio Basement Systems, we can identify and repair any issue you may be having with settling, sinking foundations. Call today for your free inspection and estimate! We proudly serve Akron, Cleveland, Strongsville, Elyria, Cuyahoga Falls, Mentor, Lorain, Youngstown, Westlake, Lakewood, and nearby areas.


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