Fixing Sinking/Settling Foundation Problems Near Philadelphia, Allentown, Norristown

illustration of a settling, sinking foundation structure with a tilting chimney and cracked foundation

A home may experience foundation settlement when the surrounding soils begin to weaken, causing a number of problems around the home.

The Problem:

Foundation settlement can occur when soil layers can't support the weight of the home any longer.

Common causes of foundation settlement:

  • Weak bearing soils
  • Poor compaction
  • Changes in moisture content
  • Maturing trees and vegetation
  • Soil consolidation

The solution:

Here at BQ Basement Systems, we install heavy-duty steel foundation piers along the footing of your foundation to fix foundation settlement issues. Depending on the soils surrounding your home and the structural damage received, will determine which type of piers are used.

Some of our piers are driven all the way to bedrock or a stable soil layer to permanently stabilize your structure, while other piers are driven to an exact soil depth for to reach stable soil often.

Get a FREE Quote!

No matter what foundation problem your home may be experiencing, don't let it get worse. From drywall cracks to tilting chimneys, BQ Basement Systems can solve your foundation settlement problems. Contact us today for a free foundation settlement repair quote!

We serve Lancaster, Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Allentown, and cities nearby!

Identifying problems related to foundation sinking & settlement

Structural problems that are visible on the interior or exterior of the home are generally associated with a settling foundation. It may be difficult at first to notice the early signs of settlement such as small foundation cracks because they may be hidden throughout the home and may go unnoticed for some time.

The tricky part for any homeowner is that if these early indications of foundation settlement aren't identified and or addressed these problems could turn into larger more severe foundation problems around the home.

Telltale Signs:

  • Stair-step cracks in brick or concrete block foundation walls
  • Leaning, tilting chimneys
  • Cracks around doors & windows
  • Jamming, sticking doors & windows
  • Cracks in a concrete slab floor
  • Cracks in drywall

Signs of foundation settlement

As a foundation settles, many telltale signs will become evident. What follows are some of the most common signs of foundation settlement visible to any homeowner.

Stair-step cracks showing in a home foundation

Stair-step cracking

Stair-step cracking is often a tell-tale sign of foundation settlement and is very common in brick and concrete block walls. As your home continues to settle further, vertical cracks may widen, indicating that the wall is rotating outward.

Keep an eye out for cracks that are wider at the top than at the bottom, as this is a sign of advancing settlement.


A chimney leaning away from the home on a foundation

Tilting chimneys

One of the more scary and dramatic signs of foundation settlement is a chimney separating away from the rest of the home. Sometimes chimneys are built on a foundation that is not connected to the rest of the home, making it even more at risk of settlement; especially when you consider the enormous weight of chimneys.

More information about tilting, leaning chimney repair.


A window sill cracking and separating from the foundation wall in a home.

Damaged doors & windows

Whether an opening is cut or created in a wall structure, such as a door or window, it becomes the weakest point of the wall. Because of this, doors and windows often display the first signs of settlement.

Three common observations include:

  • Doors and windows out of square
  • Cracks extending from corners of doors or windows
  • The separation of a door or window from the framing or exterior finish

Other signs of foundation settlement within the home include sticking, jamming doors and windows and locks that stop working. Windows & doors that lose functioning become one of the largest headaches for any homeowner to experience, as it makes a simple need an obstacle.

More information about sticking windows and doors.


a severely damaged cracked concrete slab floor

Slab floor cracking

One of the most noticeable signs of foundation settlement within your home are cracks in your concrete floor slab. Be careful though, foundation floor cracks may also be a sign that the slab floor alone has settled.

There are times when your slab floor may sink or lift independently of the foundation walls, damaging the floors but not necessarily the foundation walls themselves.


Drywall cracking due to foundation settlement

Drywall Cracks

Cracks in drywall throughout the house are a good indicator of settlement, and may be more obvious in the uppermost levels of your house.

Common observations of drywall cracks:

  • Drywall cracks off of the corners of doors and windows
  • Cracks that follow drywall seams
  • Drywall tape buckling, pulling or ripping

If drywall cracks aren't addressed the separation could become larger and depending on where they are located could spread. Cracks of this nature could turn into water problems within your basement and other areas of the home.

Drywall cracks can also be a sign of sinking crawl space supports, sinking floors, and heaving floors.

Repairing damage from foundation settlement

At BQ Basement Systems, we can identify and repair any issue you may be having with settling, sinking foundations. We have a wide variety of solutions for foundation repair that have been tested and proven effective throughout the United States and Canada through the Supportworks network of foundation contractors.

To stabilize and repair foundations that are failing from settlement, our company highly recommends our heavy-duty foundation piers as a solution. Depending on what structural problems your home may be experiencing and what soils surround your home, our foundation repair specialists will be able to identify the necessary solution for your residence. We install three different kinds of foundation piers: push piers, helical piers, and slab piers.

 

A graphic diagram of foundation piers installed along a foundation.

Push piers are a good option when local soil conditions are unknown because they are driven deep into the ground to connect the foundation to strong, stable soil or bedrock.

Foundation push piers

Push piers, sometimes known as resistance piers, are made of steel and are driven deep into the soil to bedrock or other stable soil layers.

First, soil is removed from the area where the pier will be driven. A heavy-duty steel foundation bracket is then installed below and against the footing of your foundation. Rugged, steel pier sections are hydraulically driven through the bracket to bedrock or a stable soil layer.

Next, the weight of the home is transferred through the piers to the competent soil below, and a lift can be attempted to bring the home back to its original position. Once the homeowner and installing contractor are satisfied with the stabilization or amount of lift, the soil can be back-filled and the home is permanently stabilized in its new position.

Push piers can be installed from the exterior or interior of your home and can provide an opportunity to close cracks and improve the operation of doors and windows.

More about installing foundation push piers.

Read about our push pier system.

A graphic illustration of steel helical piers supporting a home foundation.

When knowledge of local soil conditions is known, helical piers are an ideal for the home because the exact depth of installation will ease the installation process.

Foundation helical piers

Foundation helical piers are straight, steel piers that have helical blades welded to each shaft.

These piers are driven into the soils underneath your foundation, then each pier is connected to the structure's foundation via a steel bracket. Additional sections, or extensions, do not have bearing plates and are used to extend the pier to the necessary installation depth.

Helical piers are mechanically advanced into the soil and can be installed from the exterior or interior of your home - providing an opportunity to lift your home back to its original position. Once the helical pier has been advanced into the soil, a foundation bracket is secured to the footing.

Helical piers can also be effective at closing cracks caused by settlement and improving the operation of doors and windows.

More about installing foundation helical piers.

Read about our helical pier system.

An illustration of slab piers supporting a concrete slab floor.

Slab piers can stabilize a settling concrete slab and restore stability by connecting the slab to the competent soil at greater depth.

Slab pier systems

Foundation slab piers are steel piers which are driven or advanced deep below your floor slab to a stable soil layer. These piers are driven or advanced deep into the ground, past any troubled soil, so that your slab is supported by a strong competent material.

There are two types of slab piers: hydraulically-driven slab piers and helical slab piers. Both types can be effective, and both use small installation equipment, so installations can be completed in tight-access areas such as bathrooms or laundry rooms. Slab piers also provide an opportunity to lift your concrete slab back to its original position, oftentimes closing cracks and eliminating trip hazards.

Grout is then carefully pumped at a low pressure under the slab to fill the void created by the soil settlement and slab lifting process. Finally, concrete is placed back in the cored holes, and the floor is permanently stabilized in its new position.

This installation is possible year-round and provides a permanent solution for your home.

Read about our slab pier system.

What not to do for settlement sinking

Like all home improvements and repairs for your home, some methods work better than others. That's why it's important to have one of our professional foundation repair specialists visit your home to identify the cause of your foundation issue and what the most effective solution is for your home. In fact, at BQ Basement Systems, we find that many of our foundation repair jobs are actually just fixing the unsuccessful repairs of other contractors.

Based on our experiences throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, here are three "fixes" that we do NOT recommend:

Total foundation replacement

A severely damaged home foundation that is undergoing replacement.

The house is placed on temporary supports while the foundation is excavated and replaced.

With total foundation replacement, the soil is first excavated from around your foundation walls. Then, the house is jacked up and the slab floor and foundation walls are removed. Next, your foundation walls are completely removed, and a new set of walls are constructed. Finally, the foundation is rebuilt and the soil is replaced.

Some homeowners think that removing and replacing the slab is the solution to fix the problem, without realizing how costly, messy and disruptive it is to your home. Because the real problem is with the compaction of the soil rather than with the slab itself, the same problem is likely to occur again.

Contact BQ Basement Systems today for a professional service and our warrantied foundation repairs. We make sure that your home is permanently stabilized so that you and your loved ones can once again enjoy living at home.

Failed concrete underpinning meant to repair a foundation issue.

This illustration demonstrates how this repair of concrete underpinning failed to stabilize this house.

Concrete Underpinning

To install concrete underpinning, the soils must be excavated from around the foundation. Then Larger concrete footings are poured beneath the existing footings and waited for until the concrete is cured, and the soil is then back-filled.

Most of the time, concrete underpinning does not extend past the 'active zone' and beyond the troubled soils. In other words, the soil beneath these newly beefed-up footings may still be moving, causing the home above to continue to move. Additionally, concrete shrinks as it cures, potentially creating small gaps between the new footing and the old one. Open gaps beneath a home are never a good thing.

When concrete underpinning is used as a solution and the problem continues, it is much more expensive to repair as all of the added concrete will need to be removed and re-supported by a new, more substantial foundation system.

 

A cutaway image of concrete piers string along a wire, intended for foundation repairs.

Concrete piers are too big and blunt to be driven deep into foundation soils, so they usually don't extend to competent supporting soils.

Concrete Piers

Concrete piers are short, blunt cylinders that are pushed into the soil on top of one another and are held together by a wire. Shims are then placed on top of the uppermost concrete cylinder, and the soil is then back-filled.

The blunt concrete cylinders are wide in diameter (about 6"-8"), making it difficult to push the sections deep into the ground and past the troubled soil. There is also nothing to guide the direction of the pier, so they may not be installed straight. Finally, although concrete is a strong material, we've all seen the concrete crack and break under pressure and during changes in temperature.

Concrete can crack and break when under pressure, and even in response to temperature changes, making concrete piers a flimsy repair method.

Additionally, there is nothing to guide the direction for the pier, and no guarantee that they will be installed straight.

BQ Basement Systems can restore your sinking foundation in PA and NJ

At BQ Basement Systems, we recommend installing foundation piers to stabilize, repair, and restore a foundation that's been damaged by issues related to foundation settlement and poor supporting soils.

Don't let your foundation become a sinking nightmare! Contact us today for a free settlement sinking quote in your home. One of our trained foundation repair specialists will visit your home and identify the cause of your sinking settlement as well as the necessary repairs for the issue.

We proudly serve Allentown, Bethlehem, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Quakertown, King of Prussia, Newtown, Reading, Levittown, Birdsboro, Ephrata, Kutztown, Lititz, and nearby.

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Our Locations:

BQ Basement Systems
525 Bethlehem Pike
Erdenheim, PA 19038
1-215-987-6515