Structural settlement or uplift is caused by lateral and/or vertical soil movement which can be induced by a variety of factors includings flood plane locations, stability of hillside, topography, subsidence areas, and location of faults. Structural settlement or uplift can be the result of several things, some being quality of fill materials, expansive soils, soft compressible soils, poor site drainage, poor bearing materials, poor compaction, vegetation, soil consolidation, poorly designed foundation and earthqukaes.

Site Drainage
Adequate site drainage is very important for foundation stability. The rainwater from the roof should be collected by gutters and drained through the downspouts into a drain system that take water away from the foundation system. It is very important that all the water coming from the downspouts is drained away from the structure to prevent excessive foundation settlement or uplift.
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Expansive Soil
  Expansive soils do present challenges. First, you need to determine if the soils are expansive type soils. If they are, consider the moisture level at the time of the inspection. Look at rainfall records in that area and determine is if it is unusually wet or dry. Does the structure have good drainage control? If possible, find out whether the foundation was constructed during a dry season or wet season. Structures on expansive soils that are built during a dry season may be more prone to experiencing heave during extreme wet conditions. Alternately, structures built on expansive soil during a wet period may be more prone to drought settlement.  
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Due to their nature, clay soils swell when absorbing moisture and shrink as they dry out. The illustration below shows a tree on the left side of the structure that absorbs moisture from the soil and consequently the soil will consolidate or shrink as it dries. If moisture is being added to other clay soil, then it will swell and heave as it absorbs the moisture.
Foundation Cracks
Identifying the difference between settlement and heaving can be challenging. The illutrations below demonstrate typical settlement and heaving crack patterns. It is recommended that a professional foundation contractor like us is contacted to inspect current condition of site and structure in order to rule out excessive settlement or heaving before any repairs are performed.
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