Stoop or Stair Settlement is a Common Foundation Problem

Do you have a front stoop, set of stairs or porch that seems to be settling? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, front stoops, stairs and porches are among the top three issues we see in foundation settlement (the other two being chimneys leaning and garage column settlement).

What Causes Stoops to Settle?

Stoop or stair settlement

So why do these structures settle so often? Well, typically they are built on the front of homes within the first few feet of the foundation. When a house has a basement or deep crawlspace, the soils on the front of the home are disturbed during construction. When a builder pours the foundation walls, he then pushes the soil back against his new wall.

In both a block or concrete poured wall, the builder has to be careful not to apply too much lateral pressure on the exterior while back filling for fear of “blowing” the wall in or causing damage. For this reason, the soils typically are poorly compacted or only slightly compacted. What does this mean?

Uncompacted or poorly compacted soils are a major reason for foundation settlement. In this case, the porch, stoop or stairs are placed on this soil. As the soil consolidates (compacts over time), the stoop will settle as well.

In many cases, a stoop will be removed and rebuilt only to settle again as the new stoop is sitting on top of the same poorly compacted soils (or worse, the builder of the new stoop poured concrete thinking he would go deep enough to stop future settlement).

How to Repair A Sunken Stoop

If your stoop or stairs are failing, one option to consider is installing a helical pier to support your front porch. These piers can penetrate through the fill material and into dense soil, providing the necessary support and stability. In many cases, they can even lift the stoop or stairs. However, it’s important to note that foundation repair is a complex process and should be assessed by a qualified professional before deciding on a repair method.