Even though footings are essential in modern construction, homeowners often take them for granted. Some footings are built on the wrong soil, while the dimensions of others are off. That’s not good for the health of your foundation.
In our opinion, footing construction should be done after soil conditions have been assessed and the right depth and width determined. Read on to learn more about concrete footings and what they mean for your foundation.
What Is a Concrete Footing?
A concrete footing is a structural element that’s made from poured concrete and reinforced with rebar. It’s used to support the foundation and to stop it from settling. The dimension of any footing depends on the type and size of the structure being built. When placed properly, footings can provide adequate support to the foundation and the entire house.
To build a strong footing, contractors have to consider the moisture content and bearing capacity of the soil. Weak or shifty soils will cause the foundation to settle with time. The building may eventually follow suit.
How to Build Concrete Footings
Filling the concrete footing is a seven-step process that goes like this:
- Excavate the ground for your concrete footings.
- Set up the formwork.
- Mix the concrete on a clean surface.
- Pour concrete into the wooden forms within half an hour of mixing.
- Bring the refill material or soil.
- Compact the base of the home.
- Wait for the concrete to cure.
If you fail to take care of any of these, even the best built concrete footing can fail.
Factors Impacting the Footing Construction
There’s more to building a strong concrete footing than just digging and pouring concrete on forms. Some of the factors that builders take into consideration include the following.
Footings can sit on different types of soil, which will determine their strength. Some of the soils include man-moved soil, backfill soil, and native soil layers. The condition of the underlying soil is crucial to your footing’s health.
Soil compaction is also a big part of footing construction and necessary when moving soil from one location to another to fill holes in the foundation. Failing to compact the soil can result in settlement.
Hire a structural engineer to assess the soil condition to see if the ground can bear the load of the structure. They are likely to recommend a wider footing and additional support if they discover the soil has a low bearing capacity.
Sometimes, the underlying soil has to be removed and replaced with better fill materials. Contractors can also mix the soil with aggregates to improve the bearing capacity. Remember, the denser the soil, the greater its load capacity.
Another thing that determines the density of concrete footings is soil moisture. If the soil is too dry, its grains will clump together, and this will make compaction difficult. If the soil is too wet, the particles will break apart and make it impossible for you to attain the desired density.
Before you begin constructing the footing, be sure to check the moisture content of the soil. Every soil layer has its moisture and temperature, which makes it behave differently under the weight of the structure. Water content is important for maximum soil compaction.
Here’s Why You Should Go with a Concrete Footing
Concrete footings have many purposes in a home or a building, but their primary role is to hold your house together. In other words, footings are the anchors that prevent your house from settling.
Building a house on bare earth means you’ll have to deal with cracks due to natural forces. A properly constructed footing can shield your home from environmental loads and damaging natural forces.
However, not all structures require footings. A good example is shade, which isn’t heavy or prone to structural damage.
For more information about concrete footings or how you can protect your foundation, get in touch with JES Foundation Repair. We can arrange a free foundation repair inspection and quote and recommend the best fixes for your foundation.