Houses and buildings settle a few years after construction. The rate of settlement depends on the soil type a structure is built on and prevailing weather conditions. In the past, builders had problems diagnosing foundation shifts and repairing the structural base of buildings. Transitional design and wet landscapes aren’t making things easier today.
But it is relatively easy to have your settling foundation repaired and protected with the help of foundation repair experts and foundation piers. How will these contractors know how to protect your home and sure its long-term stability? Read on to find out the answer to this question and other concerns about foundation repairs.
Whether built on natural soil layers or man-moved soil, the foundation has the potential to sink. This is known as foundation settlement. The rate of settlement depends on soil moisture and prevailing temperatures.
Here are three things that might lead to unstable soil underneath the foundation.
- Drying and shrinking soil – When soils lose moisture, they’ll shrink and leave voids that your home settles into. This tends to happen during dry summer months or periods of drought.
- Wetting and softening – After a drought, cracks, and crevices are likely to form below your foundation. These will let water through when there’s a huge downpour, and lead to wetting and softening of the soil. Soggy soil is usually soft and weak to support the weight of your home.
- Poor compaction – Another possible reason why you are experiencing settlement is poorly compacted soil. If the foundation contractor fails to tamp the soil down, it will compress under the weight of your home, leading to foundation failure.
Signs of Foundation Settlement
Sticking doors, sloping or uneven floors, cracks on brick or stucco or drywall, and chimneys pulling away are all indications that your foundation is shifting downwards. If you notice gaps around your windows and doors or find that your kitchen cabinets or countertops are tilting and pulling away from the wall, you need to take action as settlement could be underway.
Best Solution for Settling Foundation
While there are many options for repairing a settling foundation, only one of them works great – push piers. They are basically steel tubes that are driven into the ground until they reach the stable bedrock. What makes it exceptional is that it doesn’t have the limitations of the other systems, and it goes past the unstable soil to permanently stabilize the foundation.
A typical installation for manufactured piers goes like this:
- Dirt is dug up around your foundation to expose the footing.
- The footing is carefully notched to allow the pier bracket to rest below the foundation.
- Next a heavy-duty steel bracket is secured to the footing to allow for a straight and vertical installation of piers.
- Starter tubes and external sleeves are driven into the bracket in readiness for drive assembly.
- Pier sections are pressed through the external sleeve and their pressures are gauged every few feet.
- The piers are driven deeper into the ground until they reach the bedrock.
Each pier is installed one at a time, and in the same way, until your home is stabilized. Our push piers come with life-long warranties that are transferable.
How Is Benchmarking Done?
Most homeowners worry about the structural integrity of their home, which is a genuine concern considering the foundation provides a base for the entire building.
After piers have been installed, it’s important to make sure they continue to properly support the structure. But how can that be done without digging all the way down to check on them?
That’s where benchmarking comes in. Typical benchmarking goes like this:
Piers are installed beneath your settling foundation. Once all piers have been installed, the installation crew starts benchmarking above each one of the piers. A laser level is set up, and small rivets are installed into the foundation wall. This allows the contractor to perform future inspection to ensure your piers continue to work in stabilizing the home.
Once the benchmarking is complete, the foundation soil is replaced and tamped down, which allows landscaping to be replaced. Your home is finally stabilized for good.
Determining Foundational Movement
While structural engineers have different ways of analyzing the foundation for movement, most follow the guidelines set by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The guidelines are useful as they standardize the way foundations are examined. Typical evaluations factor the overall foundation deflection, localized foundation deflection, and the overall tilt.
Think about how many hours local foundation repair contractors would waste trying to figure the amount of load each pier should support and where they should be placed under your home. This is something that benchmarking addresses.
Can I Benchmark the Foundation by Myself?
Foundation benchmarking isn’t your typical DIY project. A lot goes into stabilizing a sinking foundation than just driving piers into the bedrock. Structural engineers must determine where supporting structures will be located and how much load underpinning solutions can bear. They must install piers and then benchmark them so that any installation provides the best support. If you don’t have the requisite training or experience, you won’t set benchmarks properly. Get in touch with the experts at JES Foundation Repair if you need help stabilizing your settling foundation. Our crew will benchmark the foundation so they can have a reference point to check piers whenever they perform repairs, ensuring your warranty stays valid.