Preventing And Fighting Settlement Of Structure

Preventing and Fighting Settlement of Structure


Jerry March

The decrease of soil volume, either through water loss or compression, is called settlement. Settlement can cause major problems in building construction. Some negative effects of settlement are inclination of the structure and eventual sinking of the foundation.

Most cases of settlement are caused by inaccurate results of soil sampling before the start of construction or natural geological events such as minor and major earthquakes. If weight of the structure is too much for the capacity of the soil, the structure will sink until the soil is compact enough to support the structure s weight. This is why it is important to wait for the soil sampling results and consider several options before starting the project.

Soil sampling helps determine the type of soil within the area where construction will take place. The results will show if there is a possibility of settlement or how much weight the soil can bear. By comparing the results with the load computations of the structure, proper construction procedure can be done to avoid future problems.


If the soil in the area is too soft to carry the structure without settlement, there are several options to consider. Piles can be hammered to the ground until they reach firm soil before placing the foundations. Piles are precast concrete or metal designed to support the foundations of a structure on a weak soil. This will prevent any incidence of settlement that will require

structural repair


However, if piles cannot be used, a mechanical drill or compactor can be used to make the soil firm enough. After the soil has been well compacted, more soil is added to restore elevation lost during the compacting process. In cases of natural disasters, when the soil has been saturated with water for weeks and has become too soft, there is a good

structural repair

method applicable.

Grouting is the best

structural repair

method used to restore the soil density, keeping the soil from further settlement. With the use of high pressure pumps, every foundation is grouted with the hardest concrete mixture to replace the voids, pushing the structure up. This way, the grout serves as a pile after it hardens.

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