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The 3 Different Types of Home Settlement & the Cracks They Exhibit

House settlement is a subject that encompasses various other related subjects, such as house issues and the emergence of cracks in the brick veneer. This subject could lead to a lot of things when you dig into it, and the different types of house settlement are rarely discussed. The type of settlement a house is experiencing is the most important thing you can discover because the type always dictates the repair. Each type either has the absence or the appearance of house settling cracks.

Settlement cracks are important to mention for a couple of reasons:

  1. Easy indicators – When cracks appear in the brick veneer of the home, it can be due to various reasons. However, the focus should be on the width and length of the crack that appears. Depending on those factors, it can indicate the seriousness of the foundation issue.
  1. They go hand in hand with settlement – There may be different causes of settlement that vary in severity. Cracks are the most common signs a homeowner sees when their house is settling. Likewise, when cracks appear without noticeable settling, chances are, settlement is the root cause.

This article will discuss the different types of house settlement and the cracks that are typically found on the home as a result.

#1: Uniform Settlement

uniform settlement graphic

Figure 1: Uniform Settlement where the entire structure settles at the same rate and to the same depth.

We included this on our list because it shows one important type of settlement that a homeowner may experience. Uniform settlement occurs when the entire structure settles at a uniform rate, this happens when the soil supporting the structure is one layer that moves as a cohesive unit. With this type of settlement, there typically aren’t any settlement cracks, but that may not always be the case. Foundation cracks due to settlement can happen even if the type of settlement is smooth as can be. The home is always under pressure from surrounding soils, and as those soils move and shift around, so does the structure above. Settlement cracks can form due to this movement. At this stage, though, the cracks would not indicate damage or significantly needed repairs. If anything, the cracks present would be minuscule and pose more of an aesthetic issue than a structural one.

The best course of action in this situation is to let the settlement runs its course while at the same time monitoring its progress. If at any point you feel that the settlement has gone beyond normal levels, you may need to contact a trusted foundation repair company immediately. Carolina Foundation Solutions, LLC, will send out an expert to inspect your home, locate the issue, and provide solutions that are tailored to your needs. What sets us apart is when we arrive and see no foundation issues, and the cracks or settlement only indicate an aesthetic issue, we will be honest and transparent.

#2: Tipping Settlement

tipping settlement graphic

Figure 2: Tipping settlement where one side of the structure settles to a certain depth causing it to tilt or lean

We included this type of settlement on our list because it showcases what typically happens when settlement occurs. It is classified as tipping settlement, which is when one portion of the structure settles down to a certain depth. This type of settlement results in settlement cracks on the exterior of the foundation and oftentimes the interior of the home. Usually, these cracks are a little wider than a hairline crack and could be a sign of structural issues. Inside the home, these cracks can be found in the floor, over the top of doors and windows, and in the seams of the drywall.

When this type of settlement occurs, procrastination may be the worst thing to do. The best course of action is to contact a trusted foundation repair company like Carolina Foundation Solutions. Your home is in a unique situation in which the cause of the settlement and cracks could be either structural or a severe case of settlement without the foundation issues. An expert from Carolina Foundation Solutions will be able to inspect your home and tell you just that. If the problem is deemed a structural one or you want the settlement to stop, we will address the issue as safely and effectively as we can.

#3: Differential Settlement

differential settlement graphic

Figure 3: Differential settlement where different sections of the structure settle to different depths

This type of settlement is included because it illustrates how a home built on different layers of soil, with various levels of strength, settles to different extremes. When this occurs, the home tends to shift and slide causing stair-stepping and severe cracks to form. These settlement cracks signify a serious structural issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Once a problem like this is noticed, the worst thing to do is to monitor its progress to see if it gets worse. Short of a full collapse, it is hard to get any worse than this depending on the depth of settlement. Refer to Figure 4 for an accurate cost over time representation.

cost over time graphic

As you may be able to deduce from this graph, after one month of monitoring the issue from its first instance of settlement, the price to fix the foundation is roughly normal. After three months, the problem progresses and more drastic measures may have to be taken to correct the settlement (more manpower, more materials, etc.). After six months, the structure will typically show signs of weakness and possible areas of failure, and the entire foundation is affected as well. Lastly, after a year of letting the issue persist, there is a chance of complete structural failure, when the home is no longer safe to live in, as the correction process is extensive and expensive.

In closing, the type of settlement, whether it be uniform, tipping, or differential, dictates how proactive you should be in correcting it. These different types of settlement bring with them different kinds and degrees of signs, such as cracks that range from hairline to severe stair-stepping. When faced with a settlement issue that persists past the norm, calling a reputable foundation repair company is the best course of action. Carolina Foundation Solutions has been serving all corners of North and South Carolina for the last 20 years, and we are proud to be known as one of the premier choices for foundation repair in the Carolinas. 

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