Why Is Your House Sinking in the Middle? Causes and Fixes

August 15, 2023

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Help! My house is sinking in the middle! If you’re a homeowner in this predicament, it’s vital to consider needed fixes. Any sinking and settling tends to get worse and costlier to fix the longer it’s ignored. However, there is a difference between damaged flooring and foundation cracks and resultant sinking.

Common causes for a house sinking in the middle include:

  • Foundation settlement
  • Soil erosion
  • Weak or expansive soil
  • Improper construction
  • Water issues
  • Underground voids

To ensure your home is in good condition, note these causes in added detail. Also, this information can alert you to when it’s time to call a foundation repair contractor. Their expert opinion and fixes can ensure your structure is in good condition.

My house is sinking in the middle

My House Is Sinking In the Middle! Common Causes

A house sinking in the middle can be attributed to various factors, often related to foundation and soil issues. Ultimately, the house will most likely require some form of house leveling services to rectify the issues. Here are some potential causes in added detail:

Foundation Settlement

One of the primary reasons for a house sinking is foundation settlement. This occurs when the soil beneath the foundation compresses, causing the foundation to sink unevenly. This issue is often due to poorly compacted soil during construction or changes in soil moisture content.

Soil moisture can change due to natural occurrences such as flooding. Also, property owners might overwater their grass or vegetation. Poor drainage, plumbing or irrigation leaks, and other such issues can also risk overly moist soil that risks foundation settlement.

Soil Erosion

If the soil underneath the foundation erodes, it creates voids that lead to uneven settlement. Water runoff, poor drainage, and improper grading can contribute to soil erosion. This often happens in the middle of the house where water might accumulate.

Weak or Expansive Soil

Soil with poor load-bearing capacity or expansive properties can lead to differential settlement. This causes the middle of the house to sink. Expansive soils, like clay, swell when wet and shrink when dry. This process leads to ground movement and foundation issues.

Improper Construction

Insufficient or improperly placed supports, footings, or pilings during construction risk uneven settlement. This often happens in the middle of the house where the weight is the heaviest. Also, homeowners might neglect to waterproof the foundation middle or otherwise maintain that area. In turn, it weakens even more over the years, risking settling and sinking.

Water Issues

Water leaks, poor drainage, or plumbing problems near the center of the house can soften the soil. Consequently, the soil becomes weak and unable to support the home’s weight. This can then contribute to uneven settlement.

Underground Voids

Buried objects, debris, or old construction materials that decompose over time can create voids under the foundation. These voids can lead to subsidence in the middle of the house. This is also why it’s vital that a builder prepare soil properly before construction.

the underside of a damaged foundation

What’s the Difference Between a Sinking Foundation and Sagging Floors?

In some cases, a home sinking in the middle might simply be sagging floors. Distinguishing between these two issues requires a careful assessment of the home’s structure. Check out some signs of sagging floors so you know the best professional to call for needed fixes:

  • Notice if the floors appear to sag or slope in certain areas. This can lead to an uneven and bumpy feel when walking.
  • Look for noticeable dips or bows in the floors, particularly in the center of the room or near load-bearing walls.
  • Cracks or separations in tiles, hardwood flooring, or other floor coverings can indicate sagging floors.
  • In basements or crawl spaces, inspect the condition of floor joists. If they are visibly bowed or sagging, it's a sign of sagging floors.
  • Sometimes, sagging floors can lead to cracks forming in the ceilings below the affected areas.

How Do You Lift a Sinking House?

If you’ve determined that a house sinking in the middle is a damaged foundation, consider how a contractor might address this issue:

  • Before lifting, any underlying soil issues need to be addressed. This might involve improving drainage, compacting the soil, or injecting grout to stabilize the foundation soil.
  • Hydraulic jacks, lifting beams, and other specialized equipment are used to gradually and evenly lift the house. The lifting process is controlled to avoid causing additional damage.
  • Once the house is lifted to the desired level, temporary supports or piers are installed. These hold it in place while repairs are made to the foundation.
  • In most cases, contractors use underpinning to keep the house stable. These include helical piers, push piers, or concrete pilings. Contractors drive these deep into stable soil layers to support the foundation.
  • After the foundation is repaired, the house is gradually lowered onto the new support systems.

What Is Underpinning for a Sinking House?

A contractor might also use underpinning to lift a sinking house and keep it stable and level. Underpinning involves extending the depth or breadth of the foundation to provide additional support and prevent further settlement or structural issues.

There are several methods of underpinning, each tailored to the specific needs of the building and site conditions. Common underpinning methods include:

  • Mass concrete underpinning involves excavating sections of the foundation in a sequence and pouring concrete to create new foundation footings or piers below the existing ones.
  • Piles, which can be made of steel, concrete, or other materials, are driven deep into the ground below the existing foundation. The building's weight is transferred to these piles, providing additional support.
  • Grouting uses high-pressure jets to inject grout (a mixture of cement, water, and sometimes other additives) into the soil to strengthen it and create a stabilizing column beneath the foundation.
  • Screw pile underpinning uses screws inserted into the ground to create stable support for the foundation. This method is suitable for various soil types and can be used for new foundations as well.

All these methods provide excellent support for a sinking foundation. They can keep your structure level and stable for years to come!

A Word From Our Crew

Help! My house is sinking in the middle! New Braunfels Foundation Repair Experts is happy to help homeowners finding themselves in this situation. Also, if you’re in the area, call our New Braunfels foundation repair contractors for a FREE inspection and price quote. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

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