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Foundation Watering and Expansive Soils

clock July 18, 2011 10:06 by author blogadmin
Using soaker hoes alone will not prevent foundation related repairs and problems. Foundation design is the key to properly maintaining your home built upon expansive soils.

What is Foundation Watering and Expansive Soils

Foundaton watering and expansive soilsExpansive soils are known to be present in every US state and throughout the world. Every year expansive soils contribute to billions of dollars in damage to homes. In a typical year expansive soils cause greater financial loss to property owners than earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornados combined. The proper design and care of your foundation is very important to preserving the integrity of your home.

Foundation watering through the use of soaker hoses has become very important in an attempt to preserve the integrity of your home. Some clayey soils have the ability to shrink or expand at alarming rates, depending on the moisture content of the soil and weather patterns. The goal for proper foundation maintenance should be to maintain a consistent level of moisture in the soil thus eliminating swelling and shrinking of the soil that is supporting your foundation.

The Causes of Foundation Watering and Expansive Soil

If the soil around the exterior of the home becomes excessively dry, it will shrink leaving a gap between the soil and the foundation. These cracks allow additional evaporation and more cracking deeper in the soil. When heavy rains happen, these cracks allow excessive amounts of water to penetrate soil layers causing swelling of the clay soils that are intended to support the foundation. This rapid expansion can cause settlement, foundation cracking, drywall cracking and the need for foundation repairs.

The lack of uniform moisture levels can be caused by:


2.Lack of guttering and downspouts on the home

3.Improper drainage

4.Plumbing leaks

5.Improper grading

6.Excessive watering

7.Trees too near the foundation

8. Poor soil conditions

Expansive soils, combined with a shallow foundation, creates a scenario that can manifest itself into major foundation problems. Shallow foundations (foundations very near the surface) rest upon soils that are greatly influenced by rain and ambient temperatures. These foundations become highly susceptible to movement which causes cracking and structural damage. Opposed to deep foundations (foundations that are set below the zone of influence), shallow foundations are cheaper and account for the greatest financial losses due to foundation repairs and structural failures.

Deep foundations penetrate expansive soils providing support for a structure without being effected by shrinking and swelling clay soils. These foundations are most effective when used during initial construction but can also be retrofitted using a high quality end bearing foundation repair system. End bearing is the key here. Foundation repair systems that rely on skin friction fail very quickly when soils dry out and separate from the pile. Deep cracks in the soil are a sign that a skin friction pile has become unsuitable. The highest quality foundation repair systems use slender steel shafts that drive deeply to load bearing soils or rock. Being slender in nature these piles allow expansive clay soils to move around the shaft without negative effects.

To summarize, the expansive clay soils are generally not the problem. The foundation design or foundation repair design is generally the problem. Simply adding water around the foundation most likely will only affect the upper most soil layers which does not solve the problem. Water must be deeply injected into the soil in a wide radius around the foundation to help maintain a consistent soil moisture level. This is generally unfeasible due to the huge amount of water required in dry seasons.

Foundation Failure Prevention

The most effective solution to foundations in expansive soil areas is through professional design. A deep foundation along with proper guttering, grading and landscaping will create an effective foundation for homes and commercial buildings alike without the concern of structural cracking and foundation repair work.

For existing homes:

1.Maintain guttering around the perimeter of the home

2.Direct downspouts at least 10’ from foundation

3.Create proper grading around the home

4.Remove trees and large shrubs that are within 15’ of structure

5.Maintain plumbing pipes beneath foundation

6.Use only high quality end bearing foundation repair techniques

The swelling and shrinking of expansive clay soils create serious problems in shallow foundations throughout the United States. Differences in performance of foundations arise from differences in design and the extent of disturbance of natural conditions. Methods of identifying potentially troublesome conditions and various foundation and foundation repair design to cope with these problems are now available to foundation specialists. Soaker hoses alone will not solve your problem, a trained foundation specialist is generally required.

Signs of Foundation Failure

If you don't identify the causes of foundation failure, then you may experience major changes in your home's structure and foundation. Signs of foundation repair can occur inside or outside of your home as well as the garage. Some signs include: leaning walls, leaning chimneys, concrete cracks, sloped floors, water stains on floors/walls, sticking doors/windows, bowing walls, and settling foundation. Every homeowner should also provide adequate waterproofing solutions to eliminate water damage and foundation cracks. A foundation specialists can assess the situation and determine the best solution for your home.

There are many foundaton repair methods to repair your foundation such as steel push piers, helical piers, porch piers, tieback anchors, retaining wall tiebacks, plate anchors, and hydraulic lift slab pers. Foundation specialists will provide the best ECP foundation repair method to repair your foundation damages.

Carbon Fiber and Basement Walls

clock June 16, 2011 13:41 by author blogadmin
Carbon fiber was used for race cars, now it is used in the foundation repair industry to fix cracking and bowing basement walls.

Using Carbon Fiber to Repair Basement Walls


What is basement wall grade carbon fiber? We have all heard of it being used for race cars, NASA and tennis rackets, but basement wall reinforcement? Why would it be used in foundation repair applications?

Carbon fiber is lightweight, noncorrosive and virtually impossible to stretch. With a tensile strength of more than 350,000 psi makes it up to 10 times stronger than steel. Accordingly, high-quality carbon fiber provides an alternative to such intrusive methods as installing steel beams with heavy equipment to brace and shore up foundation walls: no digging, jackhammering, moving utilities and ductwork are required.

A foundation's structural integrity becomes compromised when hydrostatic and lateral earth pressures exceed the strength of a concrete or masonry wall. As lateral pressures press upon the foundation, basement or crawlspace walls bow inward. Its effectiveness in counteracting such tendencies is based on standard engineering principles following Hookes law and a linear stress/strain relationship. For every action there is a reaction, the action is the soil pressing on the basement wall and the reaction is the carbon fiber applying a resistant force, making the wall stronger to help eliminate shifting, cracking and bowing.

One of the other big benefits of carbon fiber is its ease of use and aesthetics. You will not have I-beams lined across the basement wall. The thin layer of carbon fiber material can be painted over without creating an eyesore. Ductwork and plumbing penetrations can be left alone due to its flexible nature.

Bowing Wall Repair Using Carbon Fiber

In most residential situations where bowing basement walls occur there are several sets of forces which interact to cause the problem. The largest mobilizing force is the addition of lateral earth pressure (soil forces) in conjunction with hydrostatic pressure (water forces). These forces put a horizontal load on the wall which in turn creates a large amount of bending stresses on the masonry or concrete. The bending stress creates an unbalanced condition within the wall due to the very low tensile capacity of concrete and masonry, causing horizontal cracking in the structure. The weight of the structure above the wall helps generate a stabilizing compressive force on the wall until the lateral deflections become too large. As the wall deflects beyond the "center of mass" of the above structure a phenomenon known as the "beam-column effect" creates additional bending stresses on the damaged wall, speeding up deterioration. Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers (CFRP's) provide the required additional tensile force needed to fully develop the compressive strength and create a "balanced" situation within the wall to prevent further bowing and cracking. 

Wall Crack Repair Using Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber fabric is placed over basement wall cracks to provide strength to the cracked area. No drilling is necessary as with other crack repair systems. The advantages of using carbon fiber fabric to repair wall cracks are:


    •Flexible wrap conforms to any shape

    •Minimal change to structure's shape

    •Repair time is minimal - minimizing cost

    •Minimal disruption and noise

    •Heavy equipment is eliminated

ECP Carbon Fiber products provide our customers with a durable, high strength, and aesthetically appealing fix to the common problem of bowing basement walls. The repairs are waterproof and can enhance the flexural capacity of steel reinforced and un-reinforced masonry walls the original capacity. The high stiffness of these Carbon-based products can stop lateral wall movement virtually instantaneously without the problems associated with steel alternatives including corrosion, aesthetics, obstructions, and lower strength capacities. The epoxy polymers used to bond the Carbon fiber systems to your basement wall have been successfully tested over 20,000 hours of continual exposure to resist chemicals, temperatures, and moisture much more aggressive than typical basement environments assuring a long-term repair.

Foundation Repairs Caused by Summer Heat

clock June 14, 2011 17:26 by author blogadmin
Fluctuating moisture levels and soil conditions cause cracks in your foundation. Hire a professional to assess your damages to make foundation repairs.


Foundation repairs to your home and summer heat go hand in hand.

Spring is over, 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 dry weather. These fluctuations cause movement in your homes foundation which can result in cracks in basement walls and sticky doors and windows.

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

As summer starts, the soil begins to dry out, crack and shrink. You will notice cracks to develop in your lawn and the soil pulling away from the foundation. As this continues the process goes deeper and deeper in your yard causing your foundation to settle. As the homes foundation starts to settle new cracks will develop vertically in the basement walls. 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 foundation 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 can become very difficult and expensive. 



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