Concrete foundations can be laid in more ways than one. There are T shaped, Slab on Grade foundations, and frost protected types. While all of them have their own advantages and disadvantages, some are more suitable than others depending on the geography of the area. Foundation slabs are popular as they are relatively cheap and are known for their simplicity in design. It is worth noting that just because it costs less, does not mean it is a low quality option.
Why do they sink?
Sinking is basically settlement. When the house is built on top of the foundation, it may sink by a few inches. It may seem normal, but if taken care and built well, sinking should not be an issue. Unless the soil below it is clay based and it expands or moves. Such cases are hard to predict, and there is little that can be done as a precaution. If the sink is too deep, it may even render the house or structure unsafe. Foundation repair can save most settlements if they are caught early.
Water is the main cause for sinking and settlement. If the soil holds a lot of water and it dries out, or if dry soil suddenly gets a good supply of water, it will change. The change can be drastic enough to sink the foundation. Soils that are high in clay are more vulnerable to settlement than others. Another issue with soil is that movement is rarely uniform over the house. Weight distribution is never uniform, so the movement will be higher on side in comparison to other points.
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What can you do?
Not all sinking is immediately apparent. Also, not all sinking is immediate. Your home can be fine for many years, even decades before it begins to settle. If the swell or sink is uniform, then your slab will be fine, foundation repair may not even be necessary. Your role is to be watchful. If there is a lot of rain, make sure water drains away from the foundation and not toward it. Fix leaks and broken pipes immediately. If you have sprinklers or pools, always slope them away from your structure. If you notice cracks or shifts in the slabs, call in the experts.
The issue of sinking will affect both slab and beam styled foundations. Slab foundations are more affected by the shift in comparison, but if the sink is severe, both are likely to give out.