'Unprecedented' problems with house foundations

Posted at 6:30 PM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 20:30:22-04

It's a homeowner's nightmare: cracks in your foundation. But it's becoming more common than ever this year in Denver. It turns out that Mother Nature is to blame.

The rain, rain has gone away, but the problems are just beginning for some area homeowners.

"It's not like anything we've ever seen. There's always been structural movement in Denver but this year it's been unprecedented," structural engineer Michael Coyle said.

There's so much precipitation in the soil that house foundations are settling or moving around.

"When the moisture content in the soil changes, then the bearing characteristics of the soil changes. And the foundations might experience movement or distress as a result of this," Coyle added.

One homeowner showed 7NEWS reporter Jason Gruenauer what it looks like firsthand. A crack in the foundation actually pulling away from the rest of the house that it supports.

Inside that house, the picture is just as bad. A half-inch crack runs from the ceiling nearly to the floor, with so much shifting you can see daylight through the gap next to the window.

"This year is probably the biggest year we've ever had," Rod Martin of Complete Basement Systems said.

Calls are up three times the norm at Martin's foundation repair company. Repairs that include putting in steel pillars to stabilize and correct a settling foundation.

"Our average job, and we do about 120 jobs a month, is about $6,000," Martin said.

Keep in mind, most home insurance policies don't cover shifting or settling of the soil.

Experts say the best way to avoid a problem with foundation settling is to make sure there is adequate drainage around your foundation. That includes fixing gutters and keeping standing water away from the base of your home.