Understanding and Countering the 5 Leading Causes of Foundation Damage

A home’s foundation is not self-sustaining; it relies on the ground beneath it. This ground consists of natural earth that reacts to ever-changing environmental conditions. The foundation’s efficacy is directly influenced by the state of the soil below. Through a multi-step process involving structural engineering, the groundwork is adapted to ensure it provides adequate support.

The Geotechnical Foundation: Setting the Stage

geotechnical engineer starts by visiting the site and collecting soil samples. These samples inform the structural design of the foundation. While a more exhaustive soil analysis could be performed, it often is not cost-effective or yields ambiguous results. After analyzing the samples, the engineer produces a report that guides the structural engineering teams in the foundation and drainage designs.

Preventing Water-Related Foundation Failures

Water is the foundation’s nemesis, and drainage is its first line of defense. Engineering teams create grading plans to ensure water flows away from the home. Despite the best efforts of engineers and builders, sometimes water still manages to infiltrate the foundation, leading to soil changes and damage.

Two Main Categories of Building Foundations

1. Poor Drainage:

The engineering team aims to direct water away from the home, but sometimes, despite their best efforts, poor drainage can occur. This is often due to construction or inspection oversights.

2. Accidental Water Infiltration:

Even a minor plumbing leak can cause moisture to seep into the ground, altering soil properties and affecting the foundation.

3. Suboptimal Soil Conditions:

The existing soil may need to be fortified or even replaced based on the geotechnical engineer’s recommendations. Ignoring these recommendations can lead to foundation failure.

4. Design Inconsistencies:

Even a small oversight in the coordination between engineering disciplines can lead to design flaws that may later manifest as foundation issues.

5. Environmental Factors:

Extreme weather conditions and nearby vegetation can also influence soil moisture levels and subsequently the foundation’s stability.

Ensuring Long-Term Foundation Stability with SF Bay Engineering

At SF Bay Engineering, our seasoned team of engineers is committed to ensuring your foundation is constructed to weather the factors that often cause damage. Contact us at +1 (415) 801-6515 for a FREE CONSULTATION and quote.