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What Causes Soil to Pull Away From a Foundation?

The soil surrounding your home’s foundation undergoes fluctuations in temperature and moisture, which can cause the soil to pull away from the foundation, compromising your home’s structural stability.

This page explains why this soil separation causes deterioration and how to address it with solutions that actually work. 

Why Does Soil Separate from a Foundation? 

Various factors cause soil to pull away from a foundation. Here are a few of the leading causes: 

Expansive Soil Movement 

Some Northern California regions have expansive clay soil that expands when wet and shrinks when it dries. This cycle causes the ground to move, pulling soil away from foundations, creating uneven pressure, and potentially leading to cracks and structural damage to the home. 

Tree Roots 

Large, growing tree roots that extend too close to the foundation can exert significant pressure against the structure, potentially causing cracks. These shifts can cause soil to pull away from foundations. 

Soil Erosion 

Natural processes like wind and rain erode soil, reducing vegetation growth and making soil more vulnerable. Certain landscaping practices can accelerate this erosion, weakening the soil’s support system and leading to cracks and gaps as the soil pulls away from the foundation. 

Poor Drainage 

Inadequate drainage systems allow water to pool, oversaturating the soil. This creates pressure against the foundation, and when the soil dries, it can pull away from the foundation. Installing sufficient drainage systems to ensure proper water flow is crucial to prevent these occurrences. 

Hydrostatic Pressure 

Water pooling creates immense pressure against foundation walls. This stress overwhelms the supporting soil, causing uneven settlement that leads to foundation cracks, soil pulling away from the foundation, and structural problems. 

Construction Defects 

Poor initial construction practices and subpar building materials can eventually cause soil to pull away from foundations. This separation results from loose soil compaction and ground movement, leaving foundations vulnerable to cracks and other damage.   

Signs of Foundation Settlement 

Several signs indicate potential foundation settlement. These include: 

How Do You Fix Ground Separating From a Foundation? 

We do not recommend DIY foundation repair methods, as they do not solve the underlying cause of the problem. Professionals address issues like soil pulling away from foundations based on the severity and cause of the damage.

This approach may involve installing drainage systems to redirect water flow or removing problematic tree roots and trees. Experts may use foundation pier systems, steel beams, or concrete lifting methods in more severe cases.

Contact a professional for diagnosis and customized foundation repair recommendations for permanent structural safety and durability.  

Regular Foundation Inspections for Long-Term Stability 

Regular foundation inspections safeguard your home against the harmful effects of expansive soil, hydrostatic pressure, inadequate drainage, and other factors contributing to foundation settlement. These assessments help detect early signs of soil separation and other potential early signs before they cause further damage.

Bay Area Underpinning offers free foundation inspections to homeowners, ensuring permanent structural safety and stability for your peace of mind. 

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Ted Dryce

Ted Dryce

Content Writer

Ted is an SEO Content Writer who has been with Groundworks since 2021. He’s covered home repair topics ranging from crawl space encapsulation to regional soil conditions. When he’s not working, Ted is performing improv comedy and working on his own creative projects.

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