Skip to Main Content
stairstep cracked brick before image

Settling Foundations: The Whys and Hows

Foundations settle for several reasons. But what does a settling foundation look like, and how can you protect your home from the side effects?


As a homeowner, you don’t just have to take care of the parts of your home you can see. You also have to take steps to ensure that your foundation is stable. If you don’t try to get ahead of foundation settling, you may find yourself facing unexpected foundation damage much sooner than anticipated.

All About Foundation Settling

stairstep cracked brick before image

It’s not a home’s age that causes its foundation to start settling. Rather, a home becomes more likely to settle if the soil beneath its foundation is unstable. Excessive rains or roots that otherwise disturb the soil can leave behind gaps beneath your foundation. If those gaps remain unfilled for too long, or if too many of them form, your foundation can succumb to gravity and other external pressures and begin to sink.

A sinking or settling foundation can result in uneven floors and a higher chance of foundation fractures, depending on the amount of hydrostatic pressure you find yourself dealing with.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to determine whether or not your foundation is secure if you don’t have the work experience to back you up. If you let your foundation go unchecked or unsecured, you may find yourself paying more for eventual repairs than you would have for the preventative measures that could have stopped the damage in the first place.

Signs of a Settling Foundation

Even if you don’t have the professional experience to back you up, you can still keep a wary eye out for signs of settling or damage throughout your home. The clearest signs of foundation settling and subsequent damage include:

Note that the above symptoms will appear inside of your home even when your foundation damage is minor. If you let that damage go unattended for too long, you may start to see signs of damage outside of your home. Examples of external damage related to foundation settling include:

  • Vertical wall cracks
  • Broken chimney

Unfortunately, these signs can also indicate damage to your basement or other structural supports. You will want to work with a foundation and basement repair professional in the Raleigh, NC, area to determine what has gone wrong in your home. This way, you can start exploring solutions that will reduce the amount of hydrostatic pressure your home has to endure.

Preventing Foundation Settling

It’s best to try and get ahead of foundation damage before it can start to appear in your home. As mentioned, you’ll want to try and take steps to reduce the amount of hydrostatic pressure that can impact the structural integrity of your home. The best ways to do this include:

watering your lawn
  • Moisten your lawn – Contrary to popular belief, watering your lawn and perimeter won’t increase the speed at which water can damage your home. Instead, if you work to keep the soil around your home moist, that soil will remain healthy and will shift less than it would when dry. As such, fewer gaps will appear beneath your home. It’ll be more difficult for rain to reach your foundation, as your soil will be healthy enough to absorb most of the rainwater that comes your way.
  • Trust your landscaping – Your landscaping will often tell you if your foundation starts to take on damage. You’ll want to keep an eye on the plants and hedges you have close to your home. If these plants start dying off, it’s possible that excessive amounts of water near your perimeter may be rotting their roots and negatively impacting your home.
  • Establish distance – You’ll also want to take steps to keep larger trees and hedges at least 20 feet away from your home. Tree roots can have a significant impact on the structural integrity of your home if they’re allowed to grow too close to your perimeter.
  • Clear out your gutters – Cleaning out your gutters can be a pain, but when you do, you protect your foundation. Rainwater that runs through clogged gutters can spill out onto your perimeter and reach your foundation, adding to the hydrostatic pressure your foundation has to endure.
  • Waterproofing your foundation – Last but not least, it’s never a bad idea to waterproof your foundation. When you give your foundation the support it needs to drive off water on its own, you can get ahead of any potential damage and save yourself a lot of money in the long run.

Fix Your Foundation with Expert Help

The foundation and basement repair professionals in Raleigh, NC, can help you protect your foundation. You can reach out for a home inspection and a free quote on any repair or waterproofing services you may need.

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

TarHeel Basement Systems Service Map

Our Locations

Fayetteville Location

3400 Walsh Pky, Suite 220
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Greensboro Location

611 Summit Ave, Suite 5
Greensboro, NC 27405

North Raleigh

208 Millbrook Rd. Suite C
Raleigh, NC 27609

Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill Location

3333 Air Park Road
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

Wilmington Location

1209 Culbreth Dr., Ste 205
Wilmington, NC 28405

Winston-salem / High Point Location

2910 Griffith Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27103