Soil Problems – Cause of Foundation Issues

Leading causes of foundation damage are eroding soil, improperly compacted backfill, and negative slope. JSA’s solutions help protect your home for a lifetime.

The main cause of foundation damage can be traced to underlying soil conditions.

Drought or periods of heavy rain, negative slope drainage, erosion, improperly compacted backfill dirt, and even construction debris trash pits create ground voids and undermine the stability of your home’s support system.

JSA Foundation Repair of Acworth is here to help Georgia homeowners and business owners understand the root of the problem and apply the best long-term solution.

Various Soil Layers Found Beneath Foundations

The type of earth can vary significantly by region, and each layer of sediment differs in thickness. Deeper deposits tend to increase in load-bearing strength. The composition beneath your home’s underpinning will have a major impact throughout the life cycle of the structure.

Common soil types found across the United States include:

  • Clay – expands and contracts easily when wet or dry
  • Sand – allows moisture to pass through, but it can wash out
  • Silt – easily retains moisture, expands, and does not drain well
  • Gravel – allows moisture to pass through
  • Loam – combination of clay, sand, and silt for balanced moisture absorption
  • Peat – soft, unstable mixture containing decayed vegetation
  • Rock/bedrock – stable, deep layer of solid rock unaffected by moisture

Atlanta area homes are built primarily on clay. JSA has decades of proven experience in correcting foundation problems that arise from soil that wasn’t properly prepared at 95% compaction to prevent settlement.

How Moisture Negatively affects Foundation Soils

Clay soil contains minerals such as smectite, bentonite, montmorillonite, beidellite, vermiculite, attapulgite, nontronite, and chlorite. Georgia’s clay mineral properties place it in the category of an expansive, heavable soil.

Weather Impact

Changing weather cycles, varying temperatures, and insufficient drainage negatively impact footings on expansive soil:

Hydrostatic Pressure – Clay expands as it absorbs water during prolonged periods of heavy rain. This change in volume can apply enough force to weaken or shift a structure.

Fissures/Voids – Clay shrinks significantly during a drought and may develop fissures or voids beneath the homes support as the ground settles.

Tree Roots

Surface layers hold organic material that promotes growth of plant life. Unfortunately, tree roots can desiccate these layers by drying them and causing shrinkage. As the roots seek water, they can also create leaks by destroying plumbing pipes.

Negative Slope

Properties situated on a negative slope (the ground angles toward the foundation) are prone to water puddle formation around the base of the home or business. A compromised footing results in structural complications and further expense if repairs are delayed.

Hazards of Backfill Soil & Debris Pits

As contractors build new constructions such as homes, apartment complexes, or offices, they may contribute to future foundation issues.


A first step in home building is moving soil to level the site or excavate it for a basement. The hard-packed earth is often virgin soil that has never been disturbed. Excavation loosens it and makes it more permeable.

This is known as backfill or fill dirt since it will later be “back filled” into empty spaces around the new structure’s foundation. Fill dirt is vulnerable to water erosion and may cause hydrostatic pressure.

Debris Pits

Sometimes contractors don’t want to properly dispose of building refuse such as tree stumps/roots, sheetrock, wood scraps, and garbage. These trash burial pits can turn into sinkholes after many years and result in sagging and cracked foundation.

Warning Signs of Foundation Damage

Don’t ignore warning signs that your home’s footing is in in need of professional attention. Long-term neglect can lead to serious consequences such as weak support beams, sinking floors, and basement wall collapse.

Potential warning signs of structural impairment may include:

  • Stair-step cracks in/around masonry, walls, doors, windows, steps
  • Sloping chimney
  • Bowing or detached walls
  • Standing water around the base of the home
  • Sagging masonry around garage lintels
  • Warped or sloping floors

Whether due to eroding soil, trash pit voids, or tree roots that create plumbing leaks, many homes 10 years or older show signs of foundation problems that should not be allowed to progress.

Contact Us for A Free Foundation Consultation

Schedule a free expert assessment today, and JSA will help determine the extent of damage to your footing. We’ll also suggest the best option to restore your home for a lifetime.

Thanks so much for everything, it was indeed a pleasure doing business with you. Again, I am delighted with the customer service, your professionalism in identifying and explaining the cause of the potential underlying structural problem, and quality of the masonry work done to fix it. I would be happy to recommend your services to others if requested. Thanks again.

Elaine York

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