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Expansive Soils in Texas

clock August 2, 2010 14:32 by author blogadmin
Expansive soils can cause foundation cracks in driveways and homes. Hire a professional to inspect your damages and install a helical steel pier system.

Damage to homes and commercial structures in the US is commonly related to soil characteristics, with expansive (shrink/swell) soils and collapsing soils causing the most problems. Cracking of foundations, walls, driveways, swimming pools, and roads costs us millions of dollars each year in repairs. Severe or recurring damage can lower the value of a house or property. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, about half of the houses built in the United States each year are situated on unstable soil, and about half of these will eventually suffer some soil related damage.  This damage causes greater financial loss to property than earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes and tornados combined. 

Each spring and summer homeowners in Texas are reminded of this, as the moisture content of their expansive clay soils dramatically increases and decreases with the seasons.  The causes of soil expansion or collapse are related to the type of clay minerals in the soil and original soil density. A change in soil moisture content can cause clay minerals to swell like a sponge or to collapse as it dries.  Expansive clay soils can cause walls and foundations to crack and roads and sidewalks to warp.  

The first sign of expansive soils causing a need for foundation repairs is when you notice a misalignment of doors and windows. Another indication of soil expansion is when your patio or driveway slabs buckle or move away from the house. Non-load-bearing walls, which do not have enough weight to resist the pressure produced by expansion, typically crack before load-bearing walls do. Upon drying, expansive soil shrinks, forming large, deep cracks or "popcorn" texture in surface exposures. 

Decreasing the effects of expansive clay soils can be accomplished several ways. The application of hydrated lime to swelling soils is a common treatment that is usually effective in reducing expansion. Another effective method is to replace the expansive soils with non-expansive fill. This can only be accomplished in new construction projects. The application of protective barriers, such as geo-membranes, that surround the homes foundation help keep soil moisture levels constant and prevent the infiltration of surface water. 

For larger problems caused by expansive soils, helical piers or steel piers can be an effective solution. These piers extend the foundation below the active soil layers to a non expansive stratum of soil. The key to these types of foundation repair techniques is depth. One must bear these piers on deep soils at least three times their diameter below the expansive layers.

Poor drainage can result in ponding of water, which allows clays to absorb water, expand and cause problems. Gutters and downspouts should direct water at least 10’ away from the foundation to help maintain consistent soil moisture. Deep watering of landscaping plants and lawns by drip irrigation systems also can trigger soil expansion.

 



Foundation Repairs and Summer Heat

clock May 30, 2010 11:00 by author blogadmin
The summer heat and dry weather causes foundation cracks, basement wall cracks and the need for foundation repairs.

 

As the outside temperatures start to rise and the rains slow down our focus needs to be on our foundations. Foundations are very susceptible to fluctuations in moisture level of soils. Spring brings moderate temperatures and steady rains. Summer brings high temperatures and fewer rains. These fluctuations cause movement in your homes foundation which can result in cracks in walls and sticky doors and windows.

During the spring the weather is mild and moist, which causes the soil to become saturated and swollen. These wet soils expand and become very dense around and under your foundation. Often you will notice new cracks in basement floors, drywall and foundations. These rigid surfaces show these signs of stress because of the expanding soils surrounding them.

As summer starts soils begin to dry out and shrink. Generally you will notice cracks to develop in your yard and the soil pulling away from the foundation. Over time this process happens deeper and deeper in your yard causing your foundation to settle. As the foundation starts to settle, new cracks will develop vertically in the foundation. These vertical cracks are due to differential settle or uneven settlement caused by different soil moisture levels around your home. The location of trees, flower gardens and shade will help determine the drying time and extent.

To prevent further damage caused by soil movement foundation repairs become necessary. Whether it is helical tiebacks during the spring rains or steel push piers in the heat of the summer, slowing or stopping the movement is the key to preventing major structural damages. Foundation repair methods are successful when they move the bearing surface of the foundation to soils that are not affected by moisture changes in the upper levels of soils. By bearing on deep soils the foundation remains stable and less affected by active soils.

As the temperatures increase in your area keep an eye on soil moisture levels and any new cracks in your home. These are signs of future movements and potential foundation problems. While some will tell you that you can reverse the effects of drying soils with soaker hoses, the amount of water necessary to do this is usually unpractical. A simple one inch rain that falls on a 1,500 square foot roof equals nearly 1,000 gallons of water. When you add in the water that falls on your lawn it is simple to see replacing this quantity of water becomes very difficult and expensive.

 



Helical Pier Installation at Ocean House Hotel

clock November 10, 2009 19:14 by author blogadmin
Helical pier installation at Ocean House Hotel. Contractors from My Foundation Repairs used contractors for foundation Repairs.

By: New England Foundation & Stabilization Co.

 

Today marks the 6th day we have been at the new Ocean House Luxury Hotel. New England Foundation and Stabilization Co. was brought on site to install ECP (Earth Contact Products) Helical Torque Anchors to support the proposed event tent on the south lawn of the property that overlooks Watch Hill.  

 The Helical anchors will be recessed into lawn boxes that can be accessed when the tent is erected and will provide support to the tent guy wires, allowing proper tensile support in a strong wind load area, and ease of erecting and removing the tent during event set-up and tear down. The Helical Anchor installation is expected to be complete this week.

Please review the site photos below. We will post further photos and information once the project is complete.

 



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