Foundation 101: Do Slab Foundations Settle?

May 19, 2022

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Are you a homeowner asking, do slab foundations settle? This is a vital question, as knowing how foundations change over the years can help avoid costly damage. Also, it’s good to know if some settling is normal versus when to call a slab foundation repair contractor!

Additionally, note that new foundations are not immune to damage including cracks, leaks, and spalling. In turn, you’ll want to review this material no matter your home’s age. You can then discuss your property with a foundation company as needed. In the end, your home will be in good condition from top to bottom.

slab foundation repair

Do Slab Foundations Settle?

The short answer is yes, slab foundations can settle or sink over the years. In turn, that foundation might crack, leak, chip, or become uneven and out of level. Your property might also suffer secondary damage inside and out. To avoid these issues and know when to schedule slab foundation repair, check out some added information about foundation settling.

Why do slab foundations settle?

There are a few common reasons why slab foundations settle and, in turn, crack or leak. One reason is soil becoming dry and crumbly so that it can’t support the foundation. Two, overly moist soil might also get compacted, forming holes under the foundation. Also, moist soil might wash out over time so that it’s not firm enough to keep a foundation level and supported.

Additionally, it’s not unusual for builders to run plumbing pipes underneath slab foundations. If those pipes leak, foundation concrete absorbs that excess moisture. Added moisture softens concrete, risking cracks, leaks, spalling, and other damage.

Poor soil drainage works the same way! Improperly graded soil holds moisture against foundation concrete, allowing it to absorb that moisture. Floodwaters that don’t drain properly also risk overly moist soil and, as a result, a cracked and settling foundation.

Why do new slab foundations settle?

While foundations might risk settling over time due to long-term moisture exposure, new slabs can also settle. Poor-quality materials and installations can mean a weak foundation likely to settle over time. Additionally, adding weight to a foundation without strengthening it can risk damage and settling.

Note, too, that excess soil moisture risks damage no matter a foundation’s age! If soil isn’t graded toward the street or a drain, even the most durable foundation is likely to suffer damage. Plumbing pipe leaks, damaged underground sprinklers, and other issues also risk settling.

structural engineer evaluating slab foundation

Longevity of Slab Foundations

Concrete slab foundations often last 80 to 100 years or even longer, depending on quality of materials and overall upkeep. Along with this longevity, there are many other reasons to consider a home with a slab foundation:

  • As slab foundation homes sit lower to the ground, there are usually fewer steps leading into the home. This is an excellent choice for those less physically capable of using stairs.
  • Slab foundation homes are often cheaper for contractors to build. In turn, you might pay several thousand less for a comparable slab foundation versus a home with a crawl space.
  • Crawl spaces often invite pests including damaging insects and rodents. These pests might then find their way into your home! Additionally, many insects and rodents chew through wiring, insulation, and wood materials. In turn, a slab foundation can mean less cost for pest control and resultant repairs.
  • Some homeowners appreciate the lower line of a slab home, versus one sitting on a crawl space or basement. Slab homes can also mean a better view of the horizon throughout your entire neighborhood!

How Do I Know If My Foundation Is Settling?

A full-scale foundation inspection is the best choice for finding foundation settling and damage. However, a homeowner can also note secondary damage around their property, the result of a settling foundation. This includes:

  • Interior and exterior wall cracks including drywall panels separating from each other
  • Cracked ceiling tiles and sagging ceiling sections
  • Gaps in room corners and around window and door frames
  • Interior doors that don’t stay closed
  • Doors and windows that stick; struggling to lock doors and windows securely
  • Dampness along concrete floors such as in a laundry room or mudroom
  • Obviously uneven surfaces such as floors or wall shelves

Additionally, schedule a foundation inspection if your property’s soil holds excess moisture or you know it’s not graded properly. It’s also good to schedule an inspection after a flood, heavy rains, and the like. Above all, foundations more than 10 years old need regular inspections, to ensure they’re in good condition.

slab foundation waterproofing

How Much Foundation Settling Is Normal?

It’s not unusual for foundations to settle over the years as foundation concrete continues to dry and cure after installation. Also, ground conditions under that concrete risk settling and heaving. In turn, a house might settle a few inches away from its original condition long after its construction.

While this settling is normal, don’t assume that a structure won’t then need slab foundation repairs! First, settling that happens along one area and not across a structure’s span often means cracks and damage. Second, even slight settling can mean severe cracks that let in more moisture, risking greater damage.

Also, homeowners should determine the reasons for their home to keep settling over the years. If concrete is simply curing, your property might not need preventative maintenance. However, if settling is due to poor soil conditions, it might be time for better drainage options. Your foundation might also need waterproofing and underpinning, to prevent future damage.

If you’re not sure about your home’s foundation and condition overall, schedule a full-scale inspection! A slab foundation repair contractor can alert you to the risk of future damage. Also, he or she can note needed repairs and maintenance, to ensure a strong and solid foundation under your home!

Better Foundation Repair Corpus Christi is happy to help answer the question, do slab foundations settle? We hope you found this post helpful and informative! If so, please share it with friends and family who might also benefit from our advice. In the meantime, we also invite you to call our Corpus Christi slab foundation repair contractors for needed fixes on your property. We start every project with a FREE inspection, so don’t hesitate to give our customer care team a call now!


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