The Top 7 Causes of Foundation Settlement in Alabama

foundation settlement causes cracks

Foundation settlement is a fact of life for many Alabama homeowners. Although the loamy soil that covers a large part of our state is generally good for foundation support, no home is one hundred percent immune from foundation settlement. It’s a natural occurrence even for the best designed and built structures.

Here’s why. Loamy soil is usually a mix of clay, silt and sand in proportions that vary depending on where you live. The reason loam is better than average for foundation support is that it tolerates seasonal moisture changes without a lot of differential movement. Civil engineers describe this differential movement as ground action that causes soil to either drop away from your foundation or place added pressure on more sensitive parts of the structure.

7 common signs of foundation settlement

For a variety of reasons we’ll cover in just a bit, even the most stable and weather tolerant soil can gradually erode, recede, shift or sink. When this happens, parts of your foundation can be left unsupported, causing slabs, footings, basements or crawl spaces to sink, buckle or tilt. Foundation settlement can happen gradually or suddenly, depending on the severity of differential movement, but in either case, it presents similar telltale signs:

  1. Doors and windows that used to move freely start to stick.
  2. Mineral blooms or deposits begin to appear on basement or crawlspace surfaces.
  3. Floors that were once level start to sag or give you a “downhill” feeling.
  4. New cracks appear in ceilings or drywall, especially where surfaces meet.
  5. Exterior masonry begins to show stairstep or zigzag cracks that get bigger over time.
  6. Exterior slabs or walkways start to crack, sag or separate.
  7. Basement or crawlspace walls begin to buckle or appear out of plumb.

If you notice one or more of these 7 common signs of foundation settlement, don’t be in a rush to assume the worst, but don’t ignore them either. Some settlement is a normal occurrence in just about every residential property, and may only cause light cosmetic damage that’s inexpensive to repair. A reputable inspector will give you the straight story on what you can take care of yourself and what needs professional attention. What you want to watch out for and take quick action on are persistent foundation settlement issues.

7 contributing factors that can lead to foundation settlement problems

Left to themselves, even minor settlement problems are likely to get worse over time. If you’re handy and like home improvement projects, you can correct some issues as a DIY enthusiast.

Here are 7 foundation settlement causes to watch out for:

  1. Excess water pooling around the outside of your home.
  2. Moisture accumulation or musty, moldy odors in your basement or crawl space.
  3. Faulty gutters or downspouts that don’t drain water away from your foundation.
  4. Poor grading, especially due to incomplete or incorrect building practices.
  5. Flooding events that displace soil around your property.
  6. Higher than average rainfall that causes a sudden increase in groundwater.
  7. Extended droughts that cause a sudden decrease in groundwater.

If any of these conditions persist around your property, whether it’s residential or commercial, it’s a good idea to have a trained inspector check for foundation settlement. For single family homes, the inspection is usually free, and an established, trustworthy company will often give you DIY recommendations and a complete rundown of repair options that fit your budget.

Here are just a few of the things you can do on your own to protect your foundation:

  • Do a little fine grading with a few bags of extra top soil to ensure water drains away from your foundation.
  • Inspect and replace faulty sections of gutter and install downspout extensions to direct water away from your house.
  • Check your basement or crawl space for water leaks and apply caulking around all wall penetrations.
  • Do an annual plumbing check to make sure no water is leaking around your foundation.
  • Dig french drains (small gravel-filled trenches) around areas where standing water might accumulate on your property.

Things to know before you commit to foundation settlement repairs

You might be surprised to learn how affordable it can be to restore a settled or sagging foundation. In many cases, the issue can be corrected on a spot basis to stabilize your home and bring it back into alignment. Helical pier technology is cost effective, reliable and requires far less excavation than old-school driven piles or cast-in-place supports.

Helical piers (also known as “screw piles”) such as the ones installed by SouthernDry take up minimal space, are virtually indestructible, and retain their alignment and foundation supporting strength due to the circular bearing plates welded along their length. These bearing plates safely and securely distribute foundation loads evenly across stable soil. They’re fast and simple to install and cause minimal disruption to your property.

If you notice signs of foundation settlement around your property, consider contacting a reputable and knowledgeable foundation repair company like SouthernDry. We don’t do high pressure sales. We’ll help you identify the problem and educate you on the most cost effective solution to correct it. SouthernDry technicians treat you like they want to be treated. It’s common to get a few quotes from other contractors, but we urge you to have us out and talk to us before you make a final decision. We want to earn your business and provide you with a great experience.

We offer free inspections and estimates to homeowners and businesses in Birmingham, Hoover, Pell City, Bessemer, Anniston, Jacksonville, Cullman, Gadsden, Albertville, Jasper, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Oxford, Montgomery, and the surrounding areas. Complete a contact request form or call us today!

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Donnie Payne
Donnie Payne
2021-02-18T21:24:38+0000
These guys do a great job. They are responsive to phone calls and highly recommend.
Garland Culbreath
Garland Culbreath
2020-10-24T13:55:38+0000
Jonathan was great with our quote and answering all our questions. They were amazing working with us to get our project... underway. The crew was fantastic... very professional, super kind, and explained our system to us in great detail before wrapping up the job. Our hardwoods had started cupping from humidity. Since Southern Dry completed our project, a little over a month ago...our floors have settled back as they should and our crawl space looks pristine. We would highly recommend Southern Dry. Great service, great work, great warranties.read more
Danny Hillis
Danny Hillis
2020-03-17T05:45:04+0000
I have worked for several foundation company's in north Al afs included and I must say I like the way John does... business he goes to no limit to make sure his customers get the working system they were promised. southern dry will always be my 1st and only choice for repairs.read more
Kristy Howell
Kristy Howell
2020-01-22T19:30:16+0000
They were very prompt in coming to my home and giving me an estimate. The price was lower than other estimates. The... work was professional and completed in one day. They also provided financing options. I would highly recommend Southern Dry to anyone looking to repair their foundation.read more
Ramsay Young
Ramsay Young
2019-12-06T18:50:55+0000
Very professional group from the estimate to the installation. Kept me informed all the time. the installers were great... with no disruption. Very pleasedread more
KarlaJohnson Bullock
KarlaJohnson Bullock
2019-11-28T01:46:16+0000
Very efficient and hard working men. They go out of their way to make sure the customer is satisfied. I highly... recommend this company. KB. Glencoe, Alread more
Meredith Smildsin
Meredith Smildsin
2019-11-26T18:40:07+0000
Fantastic customer service and high quality workmanship! The team at SouthernDry was great from start to finish. Came... out for a free estimate, presented recommendations, assisted with financing, worked around my busy schedule, and got the job done QUICKLY! Work crew was professional and efficient. Highly recommend!!read more
Valerie Dawson Miles
Valerie Dawson Miles
2019-10-07T16:52:07+0000
I highly recommend Southern Dry and their crew. They are very responsive and do a great job. I truly appreciated the... way they kept me informed of when they would be arriving, the expected timeline of the job and when then when job was complete. Each person I interacted with throughout the process from beginning to end was professional and courteous. 5 Stars.read more
Daniel Hutcheson
Daniel Hutcheson
2019-09-29T21:30:42+0000
SouthernDry came by the house and answered all of the questions and concerns that we had about our house. They... presented multiple solutions and helped us choose the best one for us. The crew that installed all components were very professional and courteous. Kudos to SouthernDry also saved us a lot of money.read more
Brad Wright
Brad Wright
2019-09-10T17:01:30+0000
Everyone was great. The owner is super nice and worked with me on a lot of things. The crew was great. Definitely... treated like family. A++ all around.read more
Caleb Danley
Caleb Danley
2019-09-09T21:47:06+0000
Excellent service, excellent product, excellent people. Very reliable company with great communication. I would... recommend this company to anyone. 10/10read more
Caren Stone
Caren Stone
2019-07-05T19:51:20+0000
I am so pleased with the waterproofing Southern Dry did for my basement and den area. When I asked the team to cover a... large portion of sheeting of the wall that was not covered in their quote, they did it free of charge. upon completing the work, the crew cleaned up the construction debris meticulously. All the crew men were professional and pleasant and answered all the questions I posed during the process. Definitely 5 stars earned.read more
Nelden Smith
Nelden Smith
2019-05-25T13:52:06+0000
Very fast, very good--and they were very willing to work with me to find a solution that met all my needs without going... over my budget! Thanks John, Calvin, and Russ, for your customer service and offering such a nice quality product.read more
Kathy Morris Ryan
Kathy Morris Ryan
2019-04-23T01:21:20+0000
I am very satisfied with the work these guys did with the foundation of my house. It was a great experience from... Calvin's inspection and quote to the guys that did all the work. Great group and I highly recommend them.read more
Kennedy Todd Davis
Kennedy Todd Davis
2019-04-16T20:06:14+0000
Very professional! They got the job done quick and cleaned up and didn’t leave anything behind!
Bob Curry
Bob Curry
2019-04-09T21:29:13+0000
Very professional company and the work performed was first rate. I would highly recommend this company and I highly... recommend having your crawl space properly sealed and a dehumidifier installed. I had check pricing from several different companies in my area that do this kind of work and they were the most reasonable. I live in Alexandria AL which is in the deep South with very humid weather. I had some serious moisture damage this fall with mold forming from a clogged HVAC unit under my house. Water was puddling onto the plastic under my house, I was not aware of this and it had been going on for several months. By the time I discovered it the damage had already been done to my house flooring. Thank goodness the homeowners insurance covered the floor repair to the tune of $30,000. I wanted to make sure this would never be an issue again even if I had some kind of water leak. They completely clean out all the old plastic, vacuumed the under side of the flooring and removed any construction trash from under the house and then properly sealed my crawl space. My dehumidifier has an app that I can check anywhere in the world and see my temp and humidity levels under my house. There is also a water sensor installed so if water is detected, it will send me a message.I could not be happier and it was worth every penny!read more
Eddie Wendy Akers
Eddie Wendy Akers
2019-03-19T14:56:33+0000
Great company. Good communications. Gteat job. No problems
Dona Warnick Jones
Dona Warnick Jones
2019-03-15T15:58:28+0000
Southern Dry was very easy to work with during the encapsulation process. Luckily I did not have foundation damage but... my house needed french drains, sump pump, dehumidifier and the crawl space encapsulated. The job was completed as promised and I am very satisfied with the end product. The entire crew was professional and efficient. I recommend Southern Dry.read more
Rita Murphy Lueth
Rita Murphy Lueth
2019-03-15T01:52:12+0000
Southern Dry was responsive an professional from start to finish, from the moment I phoned them, through the... installation process, and through follow-up phone calls. The workers showed up on time on the scheduled day, completed the work efficiently, cleaned up, and left. I would definitely recommend them.read more
John King
John King
2018-08-15T11:29:36+0000
Very courteous and professional. They were 50% less than a estimate I received from a competitor. Great communication... and speedy installation!!!!!read more
Jay Watts
Jay Watts
2018-08-13T12:56:16+0000
Very professional.
Amy Lambrecht
Amy Lambrecht
2018-08-08T17:13:46+0000
From start to finish, Southern Dry treated me as a customer with courteous responsiveness. They answered all my... questions, made practical recommendations (without the up-sale in mind) gave references that had glowing praises all around. The workers were neat and efficient with their time. It made the whole process smooth and pain free.read more
David Johnson
David Johnson
2018-06-16T13:16:45+0000
Everyone I spoke with from Southern Dry was top notch. I prefer doing business with people who are average, regular,... down-home folks trying to make an honest living. If you're like me and want someone straight up to give you a reasonable quote on your repairs, call Calvin. They were fast, gave me a date to begin, started that morning early and did a fantastic job. Juan was the foreman on my project and if I had a question he had an answer for me. He was extremely nice and knowledgeable about what was being fixed and done. I was never left in the dark about anything. I had some pretty major foundation issues on one side of my newest house. The back sill plate was rotten and the floor was sagging from no support in the rear. Juan and the crew installed 6 piers, replaced the sill plate, cleaned the crawlspace completely, installed 5 jack supports, encapsulated it all and installed a dehumidifier and battery back up, and made me a 2 new doors in 3 days! So Calvin, Russ, John, Juan, and the other crew, thank you for a job well done. The house looks a million times better! I really appreciate it!read more
Dustin Hughes
Dustin Hughes
2018-05-30T17:49:10+0000
Very fast, very good--and they were very willing to work with me to find a solution that met all my needs without going... over my budget! Thanks John, Calvin, and Russ, for your customer service and offering such a nice quality product.read more
Rob Mackintosh
Rob Mackintosh
2018-05-24T21:44:39+0000
Entire team was very professional. They were excellent at communicating what needed to be done. They were always on... time and let you know every step of the process. There was no high pressure sales techniques. They give you the quote and you can start on your timeline. Just call them when you are ready. I got quotes from the more widely advertised foundation repair companies as well and SouthernDry gives you the same product and same warranty at a great price. They worked hard to work around the landscaping. They also did an excellent job of cleaning up. I highly recommend them.read more
Stephanie Stephens
Stephanie Stephens
2018-05-13T14:54:49+0000
Great customer service. Guys that came out to complete the job worked fast and communicated each step of the process.
Nadder Fawaz
Nadder Fawaz
2018-03-21T02:23:50+0000
Forgive me for the long review, but great service is hard to find these days. When it’s found, it should be... celebrated. John and his crew were incredible from day 1. Water was pooling in our crawl space on a new construction and we were eager to have it resolved quickly to avoid the formation of mold and spores and potential health hazards for our family. John came out immediately and assessed the situation, explained all the issues, and developed a plan. We had a guaranteed price in our hands within minutes; fair middle road pricing for extremely high quality work. Many estimates came in 2x higher, just fyi. There was plenty of trash and construction debris left under the house from the contractors; SouthernDry crew removed every piece of debris and leveled out the ground before installing the drains and pumps and encapsulation material. John and his crew returned a week later because they wanted to make a modification to the system that they believed would be more efficient. I would have never known the difference, but because they care about the quality of their work, they made the modifications to ensure the efficiency and longevity of the system. After a month, I finally made it back to the far corner under the house and noticed water pooling under the encapsulation in one area. One phone call and 24 hours later, the crew showed up, assessed the situation and implemented the necessary modifications, installing additional drainage at no additional cost to me. Using SouthernDry was the easiest and best decision we made!read more
Sable Mayfield
Sable Mayfield
2018-03-15T18:52:46+0000
Denise Patty Etter-Collins
Denise Patty Etter-Collins
2018-02-20T23:02:51+0000
They were prompt, thorough and curteous. Prices were the best. I would highly recommend a conversation and inspection,... at the very least.read more
Jerry Wayne Rich
Jerry Wayne Rich
2018-01-22T20:42:59+0000
The initial estimate was entirely too high. they wanted more money than afs. then, after review the owner came out... himself and gave me a second estimate that was reasonable. im looking forward to doing business with this company.read more
Clyde Mills
Clyde Mills
2017-07-06T00:18:24+0000
I have had the total encapsulation for one week now, I am proud to say my relative humidity in my house now stays... around 38-40%, I have actually had to raise my thermostat due to it feeling so much cooler and comfortable in my house with the lower humidity levels. I called around and compared prices and Southern Dry was by far the least expensive and the personable and easy to work with. And my crawlspace is dry as a bone. If you have moisture problems or high humidity in your home I would definitely recommend giving John Kabel with Southern Dry a callread more
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