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Foundation Heave

Foundation heave can present serious problems for homeowners, their safety, and their property.

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Foundation heave is usually characterized by the ground beneath the foundation suddenly rising. That surge can be quite substantial, causing several problems with the foundation. 

Unfortunately, resolving the issue is not as simple as dealing with minor cracks, and you certainly can’t ignore it either. Instead, it’s best to identify and address the underlying issues. Here is everything to know about foundation heave, the potential causes and risks, and how a professional can help. 

What Is Foundation Heave?

Foundation heave is usually characterized by the ground beneath the foundation suddenly rising. That surge can be quite substantial, causing several problems with the foundation. 

Unfortunately, resolving the issue is not as simple as dealing with minor cracks, and you certainly can’t ignore it either. Instead, it’s best to identify and address the underlying issues. Here is everything to know about foundation heave, the potential causes and risks, and how a professional can help. 

What Is Foundation Heave?

Foundation heave involves the foundation or slab floor moving upwards. It can lift the entire structure of the house. However, in most cases, only some parts of the foundation are forced upwards, while other sections remain stationary. It proves to be a remarkably awful experience for homeowners with unsightly cracks riddled into the walls, swelling floors, and doors that require brute force to move. 

At the end of the day, foundation heave is unpleasant and poses several safety threats. It also damages the foundation and structural integrity of the house. Therefore, it is important to call in the professionals for an assessment once you notice the first signs of foundation heave. They can help narrow down what caused the problem and help you avoid it in the future. 

What Causes Foundation Heave? 

Foundation heave is more common in Grand Junction, CO, then most of us realize. But you can limit or reverse the damage caused by foundation heave by reaching the root of the problem.  Here are some of the most common causes for foundation heave underneath your home: 

  • Increased Moisture 

In most cases, moisture is the biggest culprit behind foundation heaves. A sudden increase in moisture underneath the foundation of your home can cause the foundation to shift. It can happen for just about any reason, including leaking internal pipes, rain, floods, significant precipitation, or aquifers. 

So, how can an increase in moisture lead to foundation heave? Well, most types of dirt, particularly clay soil, tend to dry out during hot or dry weather. A sudden increase in moisture allows the dry dirt and soil to absorb extra moisture. As a result, it starts expanding. Some common expansive soils that you may encounter in Colorado include kaolinite, illite, and montmorillonite. 

Since soil underneath the foundation is tightly packed on all sides with the ground, the only way it can adjust the expansion due to additional moisture is by moving upwards. . Many times, only some parts of the home is lifted to adjust the shift in the soil underneath the house. It is estimated that expansive soils cause more economic loss in the United States than earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined! 

  • Frozen Water Underneath the Foundation 

Frozen water under the foundation can lead to foundation heave, more commonly known as frost heave. It is a natural phenomenon that occurs when snow and ice melt into the soil and then refreeze, causing the earth to rise and fall in response to the freezing/thawing cycle, creating an unstable, unlevel surface for your home’s foundation. 

Generally, a sudden change in weather can also lead to frost heave. For example, a snap freeze can cause the water in the soil, and thus the ground, to expand, putting pressure on your foundation. Snowmelt also works the same way, saturating the soil and causing it to expand. As a result, frost heave due to frozen water  is one of the leading causes behind foundation damage.  

It can exert enough strain on foundation walls to make them fail. Did you know that frozen water can expand by up to 9%? When water under your house freezes, it expands. Much like expansive soil, the only direction this expansion can adjust is upwards. 

Hence, you experience a foundation heave and related issues. The wedging or heaving force that follows from a deep freeze on wet soil can be exceedingly forceful. Frost heaving can cause cracks and swells in your foundation walls by exerting hundreds of pounds of stress. 

Even a small amount of water freezing under the house is enough to move the ground beneath your feet – quite literally. It may accumulate under the house due to a leaking pipe, plumbing issues, consistent rain, floods, water run-off from construction, etc. In any case, if the temperature drops low enough, you may end up with a variety of serious foundation problems, including a foundation heave. 

  • Removing Plants, Trees, and Shrubs 

Vegetation removal is rarely the leading cause behind foundation heave. But it can contribute to the heave indirectly by allowing excess moisture to accumulate under the house. 

Plants and grass absorb a substantial amount of water from the soil. The more vegetation you have around the house, the less water you will have under the house. In a way, your lawn plays a leading role in keeping a balance of moisture in the soil. However, once this vegetation is removed or dies off naturally, a source of water absorption from the soil extinguishes. 

However, there’s another side to this: Tree roots under your foundation or too close to your foundation can result in foundation damage. They can damage the foundation directly and even cause excessive dryness leading to uneven ground moisture which causes the foundation to crack, shift, or develop other problems. 

In other words, while vegetation, such as lawn grass and small plants helps maintain the moisture level in the ground, strong and massive tree roots penetrating the ground can have a countereffect. In such a case, tree removal may be a good idea to avoid foundation damage. It is advisable to consult with your local foundation heave expert to figure out if tree roots are causing foundation heave in your home.   

  • Hydrostatic Pressure Under the House 

Another issue you may encounter in your home is residual hydrostatic pressure from the construction process. Hydrostatic pressure is the pressure exerted by the weight of the fluid. Consider how dirt becomes heavier when it is saturated with water. In other words, when the weight of water is added to the weight of the earth, the pressure on a foundation increases dramatically. 

When the foundation wall’s capacity to withstand pressure is exceeded, it begins to bend, buckle, tilt inward at the top, or shift inward at the bottom. Lingering hydrostatic pressure can have such an impact on the structural integrity of your home. 

The building process involves digging deep holes for the foundation. These holes are often left exposed to elements like rain and heavy precipitation. In many cases, the holes dry out on the surface, but not underneath. When the rest of the house is built, the walls eventually start to sink into the ground. 

The water moves up into the middle level of the foundation floor and causes serious damage to the foundation. Sometimes, it leads to a massive foundation heave. If you experience foundation heave during the first year or two of owning your home, hydrostatic pressure is likely the cause.  

The Risks And Issues of Foundation Heave 

Foundation heave is more than just an inconvenience. It can pose serious safety threats. 

It could also have a major influence on your property. Hence, it’s critical to address foundation heave as early as possible in the formation process. Here are some of the issues that may arise as a result of foundation heave. 

Moving And Settling Walls 

As the foundation heave causes the middle of the foundation to rise, the external walls may lower. You may notice that the walls along the outside of your home appear to be “sinking,” particularly when viewed from the street. 

During the foundation heaving process, water and dirt migrate from the areas around the perimeter to the center of the structure, resulting in the settling and shifting of walls. It happens due to hydrostatic pressure, soil shrinking or compacting, and other factors pushing the soil in against the foundation. This can lead to cracks or strain on the foundation, which in turn affects the walls that rely on it, sometimes making them crack or sink too. 

At the same time, the core of the house rises as the soil washout occurs on the outside of the house. This can lead to a double dilemma, with the home’s external edges sinking while the interior rises. 

Foundation Cracks 

Cracks appear when there is a lot of force traveling up into the center of the foundation floor. One of the more dangerous indicators of foundation heave is foundation cracks. When you notice foundation cracks, it means the strain on the foundation floor is high enough to crack and release some of the pressure. But it doesn’t end there. 

Foundation cracks are not only unsightly, but they can also result in several serious issues for your home. After all, if your foundation slab is cracked, you’ll have a lot less structural support. This form of foundation crack does not require concrete lifting; it is a different problem that demands a different approach. 

Water Issues 

Have you been experiencing water problems in your home? It may be a sign of a sneaky foundation heave. While existing water problems outside the foundation can induce foundation heave, once the heaving process begins, water problems can occur inside the foundation. It is mainly because foundation heave often generates concrete cracks, allowing water to enter the foundation. 

However, as soon as cracks appear that go all the way to the foundation slab, the waterproofing effect is gone. It is easy for water to seep through fractured concrete and cause a foundation heave that wreaks havoc in your home.

Contact The Leading Foundation Heave Management And Repair Service in Colorado 

Have you been experiencing the signs of a looming foundation heave in Grand Junction, CO? If yes, the team of experts at Foundation Repair of Western Colorado can help you out. Equipped with years of experience and state-of-the-art equipment, we can resolve foundation issues and reverse the damage associated with foundation heave. Your safety and wellbeing are always our top priorities. 

We offer a free inspection and work closely with all our clients to understand your individual needs and come up with tailored solutions. . Schedule an appointment today or contact us for more information to take care of this problem. 

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Grand Junction, CO 81501