Foundation Heaving Repair

We think about our home’s foundation infrequently, if at all. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But threats are lurking below the surface that can damage your foundation over time without you even realizing it. One of these silent menaces is foundation heaving, which can cause severe problems if left unaddressed. Foundation heaving is when the soil underneath and around your foundation shifts and settles unevenly, causing the foundation to tilt and crack. While any foundation can experience heaving, concrete slab foundations, like many homes, are particularly prone to it. Keep reading to learn what causes foundation heaving, how to spot the warning signs in your own home, and what you can do to help prevent and repair the damage. Forewarned is forearmed, so let’s dig in!

Contact FCS Foundation Repair today for your Foundation Heaving Repair.

What Is Foundation Heaving?

Regarding foundation issues, one problem that many people need to recognize by name is heaving. But what exactly is foundation heaving? Although heaving can happen to any foundation, it’s much more familiar with concrete slab foundations.

As homeowners, we’ve seen the damage foundation heaving can cause firsthand. The soil underneath a foundation can expand and contract based on the ground’s moisture. When the soil swells, it causes the foundation to lift unevenly. This results in cracks in walls and floors, doors and windows that stick or won’t open, and uneven or sloping floors.

The excellent news is foundation heaving is often repairable. By eliminating the source of excess moisture and stabilizing the soil, contractors can lift, re-level, and reinforce foundations to return walls and floors to their original position. The key is catching it early before significant structural damage occurs. Staying on the lookout for warning signs like sticking doors or the appearance of cracks wider than 1⁄4 inch is essential for any homeowner.

Causes of Foundation Heaving

Regarding foundation issues, we’re all familiar with settlement or cracks, but heaving is another problem many homeowners don’t recognize. What exactly is foundation heaving? Although any foundation can heave, concrete slabs are particularly prone to this issue.

Heaving happens when the soil underneath a foundation swells, pushing up on the foundation. This swelling is often caused by increased moisture in the soil. There are a few common culprits:

•Poor drainage – The soil can become saturated if water can’t correctly drain away from the foundation. This excess moisture causes the soil particles to expand, lifting the foundation.

•Tree roots – As trees grow, their roots expand in search of water and nutrients. These roots can make their way under foundations; as they thicken, they lift from below.

•Frost heave – In colder climates, the soil expands and contracts as the ground freezes and thaws. This movement can raise foundations, especially along the edges.

•Expansive clay soils – Certain types of clay soils are prone to swelling when wet and shrinking when dry. Foundations built on these unstable soils are at high risk of heaving.

The effects of heaving can range from minor cosmetic issues to significant structural damage. Doors and windows may stick or no longer open properly. Cracks can form in walls and floors. Heaving can severely undermine the foundation, causing portions to collapse.

The key to preventing and repairing heaving is controlling moisture and promoting drainage. Installing gutters, downspouts, and proper grading are reasonable first steps. For existing heave, foundation piers or helical piers are often used to stabilize and lift foundations back to level. The moral of the story? Don’t take your foundation for granted!

Signs You May Have a Foundation Heaving Problem

Cracks in Walls and Ceilings

If you start noticing cracks in your walls and ceilings, your foundation could be heaving. We know cracks happen in houses, but foundation heaving causes cracks that get progressively larger over time. Check if the cracks follow the lines of windows and doors or run diagonally. Foundation issues are more likely to cause diagonal cracks. Measure the cracks to see if they’re getting bigger, which is a sign of ongoing movement.

Doors and Windows Sticking

When your foundation moves unevenly, it can cause the frames of doors and windows to bend, making them hard to open or close. We had a stuck sliding glass door that we could barely pry open. If doors and windows that used to open smoothly are now sticking or won’t close all the way, it’s time to inspect the foundation.

Uneven Floors

Foundation heaving can make floors uneven, causing them to slope or become bumpy. Check if the floor feels spongy or unstable underfoot. Look for areas where floors used to be level but now slope visibly. Uneven floors often mean the foundation has settled in some spots more than others, signaling foundation problems that will worsen if left unaddressed.

Plumbing Issues

As the foundation shifts, it can put stress on plumbing pipes that run under and through it. This may lead to leaks, clogs, or water pressure problems. We started noticing our toilets were flushing slowly, and drains were gurgling. If you experience plumbing issues that have arisen out of the blue, foundation heaving could be the culprit. Having a plumber and foundation expert evaluate what’s happening is best.

The warning signs of foundation heaving are often subtle initially but become more apparent over time. Paying attention to changes in your home and addressing issues early on can help minimize damage from foundation heaving. It’s always a good idea to consult an expert if you suspect problems with your foundation.

The Dangers of Ignoring Foundation Heave

As homeowners, we have to consider foundation heaving seriously. If left unaddressed, the damage can be severe, and the repair costs substantial.

Structural Damage

The most dangerous aspect of foundation heave is the potential for structural damage to our home. As the foundation shifts and settles unevenly, cracks begin to form in walls and floors. Doors and windows may start to stick or need to be fixed. In severe cases, heaving can cause entire sections of the foundation to break apart, compromising the stability of the whole house.

Plumbing and Electrical Issues

Foundation movement also frequently causes damage to plumbing and electrical systems. As pipes twist and bend, they can start to leak or break. Electrical wiring may become detached or torn, creating fire hazards. These types of damage often remain hidden within walls and floors until significant problems arise.

Health and Safety Risks

Heaving foundations pose risks beyond just structural damage. Uneven floors can lead to trips and falls, especially for older adults or small children. Exposure to mold from water damage threatens respiratory health. And damage to natural gas lines or furnaces caused by foundation shifting creates risks of gas leaks, fire, or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Costly Repairs

The costs to repair damage from foundation heave can be staggering, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on the severity. The longer we ignore the signs of foundation movement, the more substantial the damage will likely become and the higher the repair costs. We must address any issues with foundation heave as soon as possible to minimize future expenditures and risks.

In summary, we can’t afford to ignore the dangers of foundation heaving. Our homes, health, and safety depend on stable, solid foundations—and maintaining them should be a top priority for all of us.

How to Repair a Heaved Foundation

Identifying the Problem

The first step in repairing a heaved foundation is determining how severe the damage is. We’ll evaluate the foundation by conducting a visual inspection. We check for cracks in walls, sloping or buckling floors, doors, and windows that don’t open properly. These are signs that your foundation has moved unevenly, damaging the structure above.

Stabilizing the Foundation

Once we’ve assessed the problem, we develop a repair plan to stabilize and lift the foundation. This typically involves installing steel piers along the perimeter of the foundation and hydraulic jacks to lift and level the foundation slowly. As the jacks lift the foundation, we fill the void beneath with concrete to permanently stabilize the soil.

Leveling and Securing the Structure

Lifting the foundation is only half the battle. Next, we ensure the walls and floors above are level and structurally sound. We may need to install wall braces, anchors, and beams to secure the structure before lifting begins appropriately. Floor joists and supports are also reinforced to prevent buckling.

A Permanent Solution

Foundation heaving repair takes a lot of work. Our goal is to provide a permanent solution to prevent future movement and damage. Steel piers are driven deep into stable soil below the frost line, anchored in bedrock when possible. Concrete fill beneath the foundation helps prevent washout. With the foundation stabilized, secured, and lifted, cracks in walls and floors can then be repaired to restore structural integrity.

While heaving foundation repair is complex, choosing an experienced contractor is the most critical first step. We have the expertise, equipment, and capabilities to assess the damage, develop a comprehensive repair plan, and permanently stabilize your foundation. With the problem solved at its source, you can feel at ease in your home again.


It’s clear that foundation heaving can be serious business. While many of us have never even heard the term before, it’s a problem that can threaten the stability and safety of our homes if left unaddressed. Now that you know what to look for and understand the causes, you’ll be better equipped to spot the early signs of foundation heaving and take action. Don’t wait until doors stop closing or cracks start spreading – check in on your foundation regularly and call for professional help immediately if needed. Our homes are too essential to ignore, so stay vigilant and don’t let the silent menace of foundation heaving sneak up on you!

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