The foundation settlement problem in Houston
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
If you have lived in Houston, TX, more than a few years, you should have seen or heard of a home foundation malfunction of someone you know. This can be determined when some cracks are observed at some walls or foundation locations, or even some multitude of signs that suggest there has been a settlement, and you may want to know why this happens so frequently in Houston.
Well, to answer that questions, we first need to discuss the soil underneath the foundation. It is because, no matter how strong your foundation is, eventually, all the loads must transfer from the foundation to the soil, and if the soil is not strong enough to take all those loads, this simply can create an imbalance in force distributions that can lead to a foundation settlement. The key information we need to consider about the soil is that, nearly always, it is weaker than your typically reinforced concrete foundation system. Other factors like wetting and drying, penetration of flood or rain water into the soil, and even uneven distribution of loads on the soil can all cause general or nonuniform settlements. In other words, some settlement of the foundation is just natural and cannot be avoided. So the key question during a foundation inspection is if the settlements exceed acceptable limits and cause a threat to the structure, as opposed to just checking if there is a settlement, because nearly always there is one!