My front porch is sinking! I've stumbled over the steps a couple of times and you can see that there's a 1 1/2-inch difference between the landing and the steps. How do I fix this?
Doug W. -Chester, VA
It looks like you have a settlement problem. This could be caused by shrink-swell or problem soils.
Shrink-swell is soil movement caused by the amount of water in the soil. A lot of rain or a very dry season can change how your soil acts around your foundation.
Soil shrinkage occurs when the water is removed from the ground. This can be caused by a drought, heat wave or just an extended dry period. When your soil shrinks it can cause settlement, like you see with your porch. Shrink-swell is a big problem when you have expansive or consolidating soils like clay.
Problem soils like clay -which is an expansive soil - can react more to shrink-swell or other moisture problems. Expansive soils behave like a sponge. As the soil absorbs water, it expands. As the soil expands it pushes against anything that's in its way. This can lead to a variety of foundation problems.
When the moisture's removed from the soil, it shrinks just like a sponge. As the soil shrinks away from your foundation it leaves a gap. This extra space can lead to settlement problems, like you see with your front porch.
This is a problem that's best to have repaired by the experts. Depending on the soil type and severity, push piers may need to be installed to permanently stabilize your sinking porch.
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