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Cold Effects on Foundations | My Foundation Repairs

clock January 13, 2015 08:05 by author
Cold weather can have a huge affect on concrete foundations causing frost heave. If you notice foundation damage, hire foundation repair contractor to assess your property.

Ice Effects: How Cold Affects Concrete Foundations

cold weather affects concrete foundationsIf you live a cold climate with freezing temperatures, cold weather can have a major impact on concrete foundations. A cracked concrete foundation can result to leaks, wall cracks, and other structural damage. Uncovered foundations that are exposed to the air can freeze the ground several feet, causing frost heave under pavements, homes and buildings. The end results are destructive structures and serious foundation problems, causing you to spend money on major repairs. The best solution is to reduce frost penetration and keep water out of the soil. It is important to know what frost heaving is so you can prevent it.

Unfortunately, foundation damage can occur even before the temperature reaches the freezing point. If the temperature falls below 40 degrees for three consecutive days, the likelihood for foundation damage is high. 

So what is frost heaving and why is it destructive? Frost heaving is caused by freezing temperatures that can damage structures in two ways. 

  • Cold temperatures cause ice to freeze beneath the concrete foundation producing frost heave. Frost heaving is the movement of the soil due to the formation of ice lenses. Ice lenses are long crystals formed by layers of ice within the ground.  
  • The other way is the ground collapsing which is caused by thawing ice lenses. 

Both could affect structures causing vertical ground movement, shifting foundations, unlevel foundations, and cracks in the structure.  Foundation walls, floors, footings, retaining walls, slab pavements and other structures can be seriously affected.

So how does frost heave work? In order for frost heave to occur, there must be freezing temperatures, water and frost susceptible soil. All three conditions must be present. The process involves the following steps:

  1. When the ground freezes, it starts from the top. Since the frozen area of the ground is much harder than the unfrozen area, it locks the foundation in place. As the ground continues to freeze, the freezing process progresses downwards causing the soil below to lift the top layers. This pulls the foundation up, creating gaps and spaces beneath the foundation.
  2. The ground beneath the foundation moves, filling the gaps and spaces that have opened up. The unfrozen area under the foundation eventually freezes.
  3. As the weather warms up, the ground thaws causing the foundation to come back down. Because the space under the foundation is partially filled, it doesn't go back down to its original position.

How To Prevent Frost Heave

Frost heave is an act of nature, therefore it cannot be totally eradicated. However, it can be prevented. Frost heaving mainly occurs in low-lying areas in the ground where there are depressions or dips. In order to prevent frost heaving, reduce the amount of water in the soil to prevent freezing from occurring by combining the soil with compost. Also, apply mulch into the soil to help regulate the temperature in the ground. There are also other methods to preventing heaving such as:

  • Driving the footing deep into the soil
  • Create a 'bell' shaped fitting at the bottom of the footing to prevent the soil from moving the footing
  • Install reinforcing steel in the middle of the concrete slab

There are a variety of methods used by foundation contractors. Find the best preventative method for your property to eliminate the affects of frost heave. If you have visible damage caused by frost heaving in your concrete foundation, contact a foundation repair professional to assess your damages. They will determine the cause and provide the best repair method for the situation.



Foundation Repair for Basement or Slab Foundations

clock March 22, 2009 19:26 by author blogadmin
The solution to fixing a settling foundation, is to hire a professional engineer. An expert can provide foundation repair methods to make your home stable.

Does your basement or slab foundation need repaired?

Understanding the reasons for foundation repairs is the first step to deciding which method is best for your home. It is crucial for homeowners to not only understand the reasons for foundation repairs but also the limitations of said repairs. Homeowners must also know who to contact for these repairs. There are many different methods and solutions that must be waded through before making the correct decision for your home and family.

Foundation repair is defined as: the art of underpinning or stabilizing a structure that has moved from its originally constructed design.To underpin a home or structure one must extend the current foundation into a soil strata or layer that is deeper and more stable than the current soil that the foundation is resting upon. This is accomplished by providing additional support from the current footing or wall via piers or anchors. Methods of foundation repairs include push piers, plate anchors, helical anchors or drilled concrete piles.

The people responsible for designing and instituting these methods include foundation engineers and foundation repair contractors. A foundation engineer is responsible to evaluate the structure in question and then provide a proposal for his design. Generally the engineer will recommend a foundation repair contractor to carry out his proposed plan for repair and then sign off on this plan upon the completion of fixing your foundation problem. While it is not always legally necessary for an engineer to be involved it is highly recommended anytime structural repairs are executed.

Inadequate soil conditions are caused by several factors. With suitable building sites becoming more scarce many home builders have been building houses on less than ideal lots. These subpar lots have less than suitable soil conditions to support many structures. There are also homes built on expansive soils that shrink and swell as rainfall and moisture levels change. Due to these conditions foundation support products must be utilized to supply support from deeper layers that are not as affected by fluctuating moisture levels. This underpinning provides a way to lift the home to an acceptable level and prevent additional settlement.

Slab on grade or pier and beam foundations are the most susceptible to weak or expanding soils. Due to the nature of having a large surface area resting on the uppermost soil layers these foundations have a tendency to move as the soil moves. Most slab on grade homes are monolithically poured with the slab and beams cast together creating a rigid foundation. This rigid foundation becomes susceptible to differential settlement when moisture levels under the slab do not remain consistent. This can result from broken water lines, poor drainage or even inadequate guttering. Trees can also affect soils by their roots drying out areas under these slabs while the rest of the slab has normal moisture content.

Differential settlement causes slab on grade foundations to rise on the perimeter (dish) or fall around the perimeter (dome). Steel push piers and helical piers are generally an engineer’s recommended solution for these conditions. These piers penetrate through unstable soils down to a more consistent soil layer that has adequate strength to support the structure. These piering systems provide a deep foundation that can now be lifted off of to regain an adequate elevation.

In the case of homes with basements, expansive clay soils that have been over saturated with water can cause hydrostatic pressure on walls. This newly imposed pressure can cause wall bowing and concrete cracking. In extreme cases, catastrophic failure can occur from these wall stresses. When basement homes are originally designed it is with normal moisture content. Poor drainage often causes undue pressure to build behind basement walls exerting forces on the basement foundation. This is often the source of concrete cracking and water to infiltrate the space. Once again it is generally the differential movement that causes the foundation repair problem.

There are two common fixes to bowing basement walls. Plate Anchors (wall anchors) are an effective solution for many homes. These wall anchors are embedded into competent soils beyond a zone of influence surrounding the structure. Threaded rods are then connected to these anchors on one end with the opposite end being attached to a wall plate inside the basement. With this system total excavation is not required and because of this additional soil load, wall recovery is accomplished over time with continued tightening of the anchor rods.

Next, there are helical tiebacks. This system of basement or retaining wall anchoring involves the complete excavation of the affected area. Helical anchors are screwed into the soil hydraulically, and then attached with a wall plate situated inside the basement wall. With the full excavation the wall can be instantaneously pulled back to plumb. The helical anchor can resist very heavy loads due to their design and the fact of their installation force equates to their resisting force.

Whatever the solution to your concrete cracks knowing the cause of your foundation problem is the first step to fixing your foundation. Hiring a professional engineer is always the first step to making your home structurally sound. Now go out and check your foundation for a concrete crack or settlement.



Concrete Foundation Repair

clock February 26, 2009 19:44 by author blogadmin
Our concrete foundation repair solutions include quality hydraulic piers. Our piers are designed to lift, support, and stabilize your sinking concrete.

Hydraulic piering can be used to lift and stabilize sinking concrete. Whether you have cracks, water problems or settling basement walls hydraulic push piers may be the best solution for your foundation repairs. Foundation settlement and movement requiring foundation repair can be caused by building on expansive clay or improperly compacted fill soils, or the lack of maintenance around foundations. Whatever the reason, understanding steel hydraulic push piers is the first step to fixing your concrete foundation problem.

Hydraulic push piers are driven pier systems consisting of sections of galvanized steel pipe supporting steel foundation brackets. The piers are a point bearing pile that are driven with a hydraulic ram through unstable soils to a load bearing strata. Sufficient hydraulic pressure is required to make sure that the pier material is able to reach this load bearing stratum or bedrock. Pressures of 4,000 to 8,000psi are very common on average homes.

Each pier is then individually load tested, and the structure is either stabilized or lifted with a synchronized hydraulic manifold system to insure maximum practical recovery. The manifold system is generally required by foundations engineers to lift or effectively stabilize a home. This system has been shown to successfully support structures in virtually all soil conditions, and can be used for stabilizing foundations and slabs built on questionable soil, as well as seismic protection, and commercial applications.

For more detailed information on the steps of repairing a failed foundation visit http://www.earthcontactproducts.com/PierInstallationSequence.asp

 



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