Differential Settlement of Foundations

When the support foundation of a structure settles unevenly, structural damage may result. This phenomenon is known as "differential settlement" in structural engineering. If the settling is consistent over the building's foundation or all of its pier supports, this natural phenomenon is usually not a concern and does not need to be addressed. However, if a piece of the foundation settles quicker than the rest, the structure may suffer significant structural damage.

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Causes of Differntial Settlement

Following are a few reasons of differential settlement:

  • Insufficiently compacted soil-  Commercial and residential construction sites often include area that has been artificially leveled and filled in order to facilitate the building process. While this fill material may offer a rock-solid footing for sustaining foundations if compacted correctly, it can settle and compress unevenly beneath a foundation, causing harm to the structure.
  • Changes in the soil's moisture- Foundation settling may occur if the soil is either too dry or too damp. When soils get saturated, they lose their ability to support heavy loads. Soil volume decreases as it becomes dry. Uneven settlement of the foundation might result from either scenario
  • Soils with weak bearing capacity-  Some soils are weak and easily compressed, requiring particular footings to distribute the strain. 
foundation stabilization and settlement

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