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What Type of Foundation Do You Have?

clock December 27, 2013 07:50 by author
The common types of foundations are block, brick, cement, cinder block, and concrete. Know what type your home has to avoid foundation issues.

It is important as a home or business owner to know as much as possible about the type of foundation you have in your structure. This will help you know what type of foundation problems to look out for, so you can make sure to get the needed foundation repairs for your type of foundation. Here is a list of some of the most common types of foundation and little bit about each of them to help you know what to look out for in your home or business.

Common Foundation Types

Block Foundation: If you build a concrete block foundation the right way, the result can be an extremely strong foundation. Sometimes it is even stronger than a traditional poured concrete foundation. If it is not built correctly however, the result can be extremely costly foundation problems. These block basement retaining walls should be sealed completely, and sometimes "rebar" is used to add strength. If the extra steps aren't taken to strengthen these walls, water can get in through the blocks. Another problem frequently seen in these foundations is bowing and leaning. This is because pressure is put on the walls from the outside by a build up of pressure. This is sometimes caused by water in the soil around your home. The pressure that is built up by that extra water is called hydrostatic pressure. When the pressure is exerted on block foundation walls, bowing and leaning can occur. 

Brick Foundation:  It was very common in the early 1900's to use brick and mortar to build foundation walls. If you have an older home you may notice this is your foundation type. Red brick and mortar were a commonly used building material at the time. The problem with these foundation walls is that over time, they can become weak. Mortar can break down, bricks can start to peel. If you notice this happening, make sure to look at the walls closely for bowing and leaning of the walls. The soil around these foundations will exert pressure on them, and push them in. This occurs commonly when the brick and mortar breakdown. Sometime you can just have the mortar or brick repair by a masonry specialist, but sometimes the walls need to have added support. There are bracing and reinforcing tools that foundation repair specialists can use, so contact your local foundation support specialist to make sure the right repair is being performed. 

Cement Foundation:  The cement foundation is commonly used in building today, especially poured concrete foundations. These are considered strong foundations, easy to maintain. One of the main pluses of a cement foundation is it's fire resistance. Don't be fooled though. Cement foundations can still have problems. If you have a new construction home, it is a great idea to ask for new construction piers to be installed. This will add additional support for your poured cement foundation. If you have a cement foundation, you still need to watch for foundation cracks and leaks. The same factors that cause problems for other types of foundations such as block and brick foundations can wreak havoc on poured concrete foundations as well. If pressure is put on these walls they can bow and lean, and even crack. Be vigilant with any type of foundation, including cement foundations.

Cinder Block Foundation: Cinder block foundations aren't always a bad option. If you are building a home in a rural area, sometimes a ready-mix truck can't make it to your location to pour concrete. In these cases blocks or cinder blocks might be used. As long as they installed on firm, compacted, even ground and no short cuts are taken, then this can still be a great option in your home. If cinder blocks aren't sealed properly however, or the ground beneath them wasn't even and compacted prior to building, big problems can arise. Settlement can cause cinder blocks to crack, shift, and leak. It is important to monitor cinder block foundations for changes. Get to know your foundation by inspecting it frequently. This can make the difference between cinder block repair and complete foundation replacement. 

Concrete Foundation: Today there are some benefits to using concrete. Frost resistance concrete is even an option, which is a great benefit. T-shaped foundations are used where weather is cold as well. A t-shaped footing is installed below the frostline for added support. Slab on grade concrete foundations are common in some areas of the country as well. Again, when done right with no short cuts, these are very strong foundation solutions. Slab foundations however can crack and do sometimes require extra supports such as slab piers. Concrete can still shift and crack, and even collapse if voids open up beneath them. Flordia, for example, sees sinkholes frequently. If a void opens beneath a concrete foundation it can be a game changer. Void fill with grout is an option in these cases. If you live in an area where sinkholes and voids are come due to soluble rock in the area, it is smart to know the signs, which are very similar to the signs of foundation failure. 

No Matter the Foundation Type, Problems Can Occur

From reading above, you can probably see that no matter what type of foundation you have, from brick to concrete, problems can and will arise. Know your foundation. You are the best advocate for your home's health. Inspect your foundation frequently and contact a foundation professional in your area, or have a structural engineer inspect your foundation so you know better how to deal with your problem. Many foundation experts will give you a free estimate. This can take the guess work out of what type of repair you need. Regardless of the problem or cost, don't ignore foundation problems. Your foundation is the most important part of your home. If it is in good repair, your home will last for a very long time, and maintain a high property value. If your foundation is in poor repair, you can be sure the value of your home will plummet. Let My Foundation Repairs help by getting you in touch with a foundation specialist in your area today. We are here to help!



Understanding Block Foundation Cracks

clock December 27, 2013 05:26 by author
Cracks can affect all types of foundations, including block foundations. By hiring a contractor to install a waterproofing system, you can stop the formation of cracks. Call My Foundation Repairs today to get in touch with a contractor near you!

It is common to have a block foundation in many areas around the country. Block foundations can, after time, experience cracking due to conditions around that foundation. Understanding what each type of crack is can lead to getting the correct fix for those crack types. Some block foundation cracks can be very serious and may require a costly fix if not taken care of right away. As a home or business owner, it is wise to inspect your foundation frequently and be on the lookout for cracks in your block foundation. 

It is also important to note that block foundation repairs usually should not be handled as a do it yourself project. It is important to consult a foundation specialist or engineer to make sure that your block foundation is fixed properly. Use our foundation engineer network to find a foundation repair expert in your area to make sure these block foundation cracks are fixed right the first time.

Block Foundation Crack Types

Horizontal Cracks

horizontal block foundation cracks

Horizontal cracks in your block foundation mean that there is pressure being put on the walls from the outside of the foundation. This pressure can come from water that is built up around your foundation. This hydrostatic pressure is a serious sign that your block foundation walls are under strain.

Your walls may begin bowing and leaning when there is too much pressure. If left untreated, this type of crack in your block foundation can lead to collapse or foundation failure. Wall anchors or carbon fiber strips can be installed to add long-lasting support to bowing and leaning walls. These products can be installed inside or outside the walls depending on the setup of your foundation. Carbon strips are considered a green solution and you won't even really notice that they are there. Wall anchors actually pull the walls back into their original position. Contact a professional to see what solution is right for you.

Vertical Cracks

vertical block foundation cracks

Vertical block foundation cracks are a sure sign of foundation settlement or heaving. These cracks form slowly but will widen over time due to the pressure of your home or business. If left untreated, they could allow water to enter the building.

The good news is that if you contact a foundation repair expert, there are foundation supports and underpinning products such as helical piers or push piers that can add that additional support needed when settlement and sinking occur. Cracks can be filled with epoxy injections or grouting solutions to seal the water out and prevent further water damage. It is always recommended to have a waterproofing solution in place as well in case you do get water in your basement. Waterproofing solutions such as sump pumps can help with the damage that might occur from water that comes in through vertical cracks. When you are fixing your foundation, ask your foundation specialist if they offer waterproofing solutions. You might be able to prevent further problems with your foundation if you have a proper drainage system installed on the interior and exterior of your home. Many foundation specialists offer both foundation repair solutions and waterproofing solutions. When you have both installed, you can be virtually guaranteed to not have further problems with your foundation in the future.

Stair Step Cracks

stair step cracks block foundation

Sometimes, when settlement or sinking occurs with your foundation, it doesn't occur evenly. This causes stair step cracks in your block foundation. This is a serious problem that should be looked at promptly. Underpinning and piering products add support in the right places when your foundation is shifting unevenly. Remember that grouting and epoxy injections can also be used to seal cracks to prevent water leakage in the future so you don't have any water stains or a wet basement.

Be Cautious with DIY Foundation Repair

When you search the internet or watch do it yourself shows on TV, sometimes it seems that foundation problems can be fixed simply by caulk or by mortar. We would not recommend this.

The best thing you can do as a home or business owner is to be vigilant when it comes to your foundation. Inspect it frequently. Keep gutters and downspouts clear of debris so they function correctly. Make sure water flows away from your foundation. Install waterproofing systems and drainage to control the level of water in your soil. But remember, there are many other factors to the health of your foundation than just too much water! If the soil is too dry, it will shrink away from your foundation causing a lack of support for block foundation walls. Soil that was poorly compacted around the foundation can cause settlement as well. The foundation of your home or business is the most important factor in safety and health of that structure. Protect it, and make sure it is repaired the right way by a foundation expert. 

Solutions for Block Foundation Repair

Each foundation is different so each solution will be different as well. Depending on the weight of the structure, helical piers or piles or slab piers, as well as other underpinning products, can be installed beneath the active layer of soil around your foundation, deep into the earth. This provides long lasting support for the structure. Some foundation repairs are cosmetic. A reputable foundation repair company will let you know this. In these cases, it may just be grout of epoxy injections that need to be performed to seal up the cracks in the foundation. Get in touch with the right foundation repair team through My Foundation Repairs, and get started on the road to a healthy foundation today. Remember that knowing what you are up against is half the battle. The other half is knowing who to turn to resolve the problem. Get started today!



Causes and Signs of Failed Foundations

clock November 14, 2013 12:32 by author blogadmin
Know the causes and signs of foundation failure so you can protect your family and home.

Foundation problems can be caused by both homeowners and mother nature. No matter if you've lived in the same home for years or have purchased a newer home, it is good to know the causes and signs of a failing foundation. Unfortunatly, mother nature can cause foundations to fail and a home owner can't do much about it. Knowing the signs and getting your foundation fixed by a professional foundation contractor early can potentially save you thousands of dollars. Foundation problems don't go away on their own, they only get worse.

Causes of foundation problems that lead to failure

Most foundation problems are caused by the soil surrounding a home. Throughout the year the soil expands and contracts from moisture and temperature levels. Foundations fail when there is too much water or not enough. Sections of the soil can have different moisture levels causing the soil to swell and shrink at various locations. Some sections of the soil can become much drier or wetter than other parts causing stress on your home's foundation. These inconsistencies in the soil generally result from overloading, poor water management, faulty compaction, abundance of organic materials, and erosion.


Transpiration
The soil dehydrates from tree roots beneath the home. The soil shrinks because of this loss of moisture. The soil shrinkage causes homes to settle. 

Plumbing Leaks
Water can seep into the soil from leaky pipes. This causes too much water in the soil and can contribute to unneeded stress on yWater from leaour home's foundation.


Drainage
Poor drainage both on the exterior and interior of your home's foundation can cause exess moisture to build up in the soil. This may cause soil heaving. 

Poor Building Site Preparation
Commonly on building sites soil is removed from part of a building and piled on other soil. The soil needs proper stabilization before the structure is built; otherwise the soil may move below the structure.

Common Ways Homeowners Cause Foundation Falure

  • Overwattering lawns - this is common way to create the ununiform areas of wet and dry soil
  • Planting Too Close To House - It is important to keep plans a safe distance from the foundation, usually more than 5 feet. Roots can cause soil moisture differences and can also grow into the home's foundation.
  • Swimming Pools - seepage from a swimming pool can leak into the soil causing increased pressure on the foundation.
  • Gutters and Downspouts - gutters and downspouts not installed correctly can lead water directly down to your foundation. Be sure to fix leaky gutters and draw water away from the home.
  • Interior Remodeling - large changes to your home's structure can put pressure on your foundation. Hire a professional contractor to ensure the foundation can handle the structural changes.

 

A foundations movement and cracking may result from a wide range of hidden factors, which may include:

Swelling or Shrinking of clays caused by changes in moisture content

Compression of the ground as a result of the applied foundation loads

Soil softening

Frost heave

Improper back filling of the foundation

Variation in groundwater levels

Erosion or undermining of the foundation

Vibration from nearby construction

Hydrostatic Pressure on the foundation

Inadequate design of basement walls, footings and slabs traditionally account for 75 to 85 percent of all problems in homes built upon expansive clay soils. These failures are generally divided between two broad classes of failure – lateral pressure and differential settlement. Both classes of failure generally have few primary causative factors.

Lateral pressures on basement walls have four likely sources:

Pressure from soil weights

Pressure from soil swelling

Hydrostatic pressure

Pressure from frost

It is not difficult to identify lateral pressure, but accurately quantifying the  source is very difficult and should only be handled by a qualified engineer. The inward bowing of a basement or retaining wall is the simplest indication of lateral pressure. The bowing generally occurs when the external forces exceed the wall strength. The maximum bowing will often occur near the center of the wall because the adjoining perpendicular walls provide support in the corners. If bowing becomes severe, these walls can collapse inward.
 
           

Cracking can occur when lateral pressure exceeds the strength of the concrete or block wall. The most common crack pattern begins in the corners and move up or down at 45 degree angles in concrete walls. For block walls, the cracks move along the mortar joints in a stair step pattern. Often these cracks end at a long horizontal fracture that parallels the basement floor.
 

Lateral pressures may affect the overall integrity of a house. Severe structural damage results in a visible opening between the top of the basement wall and the structure. Since water is one of the main causes of these cracks, water infiltration becomes significant in the largest of the cracks. Filling these cracks with epoxy, without solving the water problem, only moves the lateral pressure to another section of the wall.

The difference of the outside ground level and the basement floor creates a mass of soil that must be retained thus causing a lateral pressure. Picture a walk out basement or tall retaining wall. The pressure of soil weight is typically considered during the design of an engineered wall using theoretical earth pressures.

Soils with heavy clay content undergo a change in volume when the moisture content of the soil changes. When expansive clays are placed against basement walls, the swelling of these soils can induce lateral pressures not accounted for in the original design. Cyclic shrink/swell can also reduce the shear strength of the backfill and thus increase the lateral pressures. The solution to this problem can be as easy as replacing clay backfill with gravel or other non-swelling material. When used in conjunction with a footing drain, gravel will prevent increased lateral pressure.

Hydrostatic pressure is pressure exerted by a fluid due to its weight. Hydrostatic pressure against a basement wall develops when water fills voids or “ponds” within backfill immediately adjacent to the wall. This water buildup can cause dripping, seepage, dampness or efflorescence (salt residual). Leakage during heavy rains or poorly designed/maintained drainage increase hydrostatic pressure. Like soil swell, hydrostatic pressure is not typically considered during design and construction of basement walls.

Water that accumulates in backfill and then becomes frozen may cause a large amount of lateral pressure on basement walls. Severe damage can result from frost causing lateral pressures much greater than even hydrostatic pressure. The expansive natures of water crystals have been know to create catastrophic structural damage.

Backfill, that is heavily laden with clay, present long term lateral soil pressure problems. Their cohesive nature makes it practically impossible to re-compact them to a uniform moisture content and density. Clay backfills require significantly stronger basement walls to withstand the larger horizontal pressures. The obvious solution is to backfill with non-cohesive aggregate with proper drainage.

Structural settlement is characterized as either total and /or differential settlement. Total settlement is a complete structure downward movement. Differential settlement is the difference in vertical movement between various locations causing structure distortion. Generally, total settlement is not a critical factor as long as it is uniform. Utility connections are affected to the greatest degree by total settlement. Even relatively small differential settlements can cause cracks in floor slabs, brick walls and drywall.
 
           

Some amount of settlement can be tolerated in most homes provided it is within specified limits. Small amounts of settlements are anticipated in most design work. When homes experience excessive settlement special procedures must be employed to stop or limit the amount of settlement. These special procedures usually employ the use of steel piers or helical anchors. A underpinning procedures.




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