Phoenix Foundations & Settling
Foundation settling is always one of the most popular topics we cover. Just the words "foundation settling" are scary to hear, especially if it's in regards to our own home. But there is good news; we've yet been able to find an instance where a foundation couldn't be repaired by experienced professionals. If your home is in need of foundation repairs rest easy knowing the licensed foundation repairmen on the Rosie on the House referral network are just such professionals.
What causes a home's foundation to settle?In a word: moisture. It seems ironic that water would cause a problem in a state that’s sometimes called the Great American Desert. Learn more about the cause of foundation settling
Is it possible to fix a foundation that is settling?You can fix a foundation problem caused by settling or heaving by calling a foundation specialist. Repairing a damaged foundation is in no way, shape or form a job for a do-it-yourselfer. This is a job for a pro, and it’s going to cost you plenty. The remedy to a cracked foundation that has settled unevenly can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $100,000, depending on the size of the house and the severity of the problem.
How can I tell if the soil under a home will cause problems?If you’re shopping for a home, it’s a good practice to find out how “expansive” the soil is under the one you hope to buy. Expansive soil is usually full of clay, and it swells when it gets wet and shrinks when it gets dry. Ask the sellers to tell you if the home is built on expansive soil. If they don’t know, consult with an engineer.
What are the Soils Maps I've heard you talk about on air?Phoenix & Tucson Metro area Expansive Soil maps provided by The United States Department of Agriculture.
How do I know if a crack in my wall is serious?Is your home getting “spider veins” in the drywall or ceiling? They could be a sign that your house is settling. Every home settles, so tiny, hairline cracks usually are nothing to worry about. But sometimes, cracks are indicators that your home may have serious foundation problems. To determine if the cracks in your walls are warning you of a structural issue, try these two simple tests:
See full lists of FAQs
Catch Rosie and Romey Saturday mornings on their call-in home improvement radio show on all things related to your house, home, castle or cabin. Below are a few clips from shows that covered foundations and the soils underneath them.
Guest Interview with soils engineer Curt Peterson, October 1st, 2009.
Part 1. Soil Conditions
Part 2. importance of surface water drainage
Radio show archives and show times.
Protect foundation, keep water away from houseWe’re lucky to live in a state where we don’t have to worry about tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes—at least not too often. In Arizona, our most worrisome natural disaster is our soil, which can cause problems with the foundations of our homes.
We’re also lucky that most of the problems caused by bad soil can be repaired. Still, avoiding the costly problems is easier than fixing them, so it’s a good idea to know what you’re dealing with if you own or plan to buy a home.
My friend Curt Peterson, a geotechnical engineer in Chandler, says a lot of soil-related problems arise because homeowners assume living in a dry climate means the soil is dry, sandy and stable—so they don’t think twice about planting and watering near the house. But in many areas of the state, the soil has lots of clay in it, which means it’s neither sandy nor stable. In fact, clay-based soil expands when it gets wet and shrinks when it dries out again.
Read the full article on protecting your foundation.
FissuresA horse died in Chandler Heights last summer when a tiny crack in the earth opened up during a monsoon thunderstorm and swallowed its corral. State Geologist Lee Allison says nearby homeowners are lucky the crack—called an earth fissure—didn’t open up under their homes and swallow them, too.
Hundreds of earth fissures—cracks at or near the soil surface caused by decades of removing more groundwater than the rain and snow can replenish—are scattered around Arizona’s valleys, and there’s no telling when they will transform from harmless cracks to huge gullies. Dr. Allison warns people to stay away from them, yet more homes and subdivisions are springing up too close for comfort.
The state Legislature has taken steps to protect would-be homeowners from unknowingly building or buying a home on a fissure: Sellers must disclose the presence of a fissure on the property, and the Arizona Geological Survey is set to release the most comprehensive map ever of the state’s known fissures.
Read the full article on fissures.