Home Foundation Problems and Repairs
How do I hire a highly qualified foundation repair company?
Foundation problems are often difficult to navigate. The value of your home is largely dependent on the quality and integrity of its foundation. So, it is not a situation to take lightly. However, there are some steps you can take to help insure that you are getting a foundation repair company that will do a great job and stand behind their repairs.
You’ll want to research the following:
Does the contractor have a valid insurance policy with a dated certificate for proof?
Does the company hire contract labor, or are the people who will work on your foundation actually employees of the company?
Will supervisors be on site throughout the process of repairing your home’s foundation?
Does the company have references?
Does the contractor rent or own their equipment? In other words, are they in the business for the long term?
How long has the company been in business?
How do they back their foundation repairs? Does the company offer a lifetime warranty? Is it transferrable should you decide to sell your home?
Will the contractor apply for any necessary permits?
Is the contractor willing to speak to or provide materials needed to comply with your HOA/POA governance?
Can the contractor provide a detailed description of the work that will be done and any secondary construction related to the mitigation of further problems? Sometimes, it may be necessary to takes steps to reduce the water flow around your foundation. This work is not done with the foundation itself, but perhaps the drainage system surrounding your home. If you have termite damage, how do you control this in the future?
Can the contractor explain why you are having foundation problems? Is it termite damage? Wood rot from excessive water build up — inside or outside the home? Are tree roots affecting the structure of your home? Is there too much soil movement? If so, what can be done in the future to mitigate this problem?
If you plan to do any future upgrades such as adding tile flooring to your home, it is a good idea to ask if the foundation work the contractor does will hold the extra weight of these renovations? Sometimes, a change from carpet to tile, can add thousands of pounds of extra weight to your floors. If your foundation is not up to specification, it could spell disaster.
Other questions, you may wish to ask your prospective foundation repair contractors:
If you’re a senior, teacher or veteran, you may want to ask if the contractor provides a discount for you.
What will the timeline be if you hire the contractor?
It may be a good sign if you have to wait for a few days. This means they have business in the queue.
Ask if the contractor is willing to undergo a background check.
What are the key elements of foundation design?
Foundations ideally are built with capacity sufficient to bear the load of the structure which is supports. This capacity is contingent on the type of soil or subsoil, as well as any rock that may support the foundation. Foundation design and planning, revolve around 1) the potential for the settling of the subsoil layer in or upon which the foundation is built and 2) the capacity of the foundation to bear the weight of the attached structure. There are two basic forms of settlement: total and differential settlement. Differential settlement involves a situation where one part of the foundation is prone to more settlement than other parts of the foundation. This causes foundation problems, which can lead to various forms of failure in the supporting structure and structural integrity of a home or building. Expansive clay soils are a common cause of this kind of uneven settlement. Variations in moisture can lead to a severe differential soil settlement, which in turn causes stress on rigid structural elements, and often leads to uninhabitable buildings or unsafe environments. The results of a differential settlement are somewhat unpredictable once clear manifestations are present, and must often be corrected to avoid pervasive damage throughout the structure.
What are some causes of foundation problems?
- The primary cause of foundation issues is soil change. The soil under and around your home’s foundation can be altered significantly by moisture levels. If there is not enough water, soil will contract. Conversely, too much water in the soil around your foundation can cause damaging swelling within the ground upon which your house sits or is surrounded. Drainage is critical to the longevity of your foundation.
- Termites are another potential cause of foundation failures. Termites often eat away at the wood supporting homes causing the foundation to fail or sag.
- Wood degredation from excessive sources of water, wheter it be storm water, plumbing, runoff from other water sources, leaks behind siding or from windows. Water causes wood to rot, which in turn, degrades the structural integrity of a home.
- Tree roots are another potential culprit in foundation damage. Roots that grow under the foundation of your home can lift or displace the foundation, causing the strucure of your home to be compromised.
- Poor construction is yet another potential cause of failure in foundations. The most common issue is due to compaction of the building pad, which is apt to cause damage to a home’s foundation. Other issues include poor preparation for a pad or lack of steel re-inforcement in the concrete slab.
What kinds of home foundations are in use today?
Poured Concrete Foundations
Poured concrete foundations are the most common type of home foundation in the United States. Concrete foundations work well in areas where the ground is not prone to freezing. These foundations are constructed with poured concrete and are re-inforced with rebar or steel. The slab is often placed on a layer of gravel, for the purpose of good drainage properties.
Permanent Wood Foundations
Permanent wood foundations are not very common in the United States. These foundations are constructed with wood that is treated with a preservative. Such wood is lightweight and resists decay. These foundations do not contain concrete, nor do they require a forming process. This makes for a less complicated foundation construct. These foundations are moisture resistant and easier to install than raised or poured concrete foundations, but may not be suitable for harsh or wet conditions, such as those on the coast or areas where the ground freezes.
Raised foundations are often found in areas along the coast and areas that have high rainfall. These areas often experience flooding and floodwaters. Pier and beam foundations are the most common. There is also another type of foundation called a stem wall foundation. Pier and beam foundations use reinforced cement formed in blocks that are called footings. Blocks are usually spaced about 12 inches apart or less. These blocks are designed to lift a house above the flood line. The footings in a stem wall foundation are different, in that these are continuous, whereas the pier and beam formats use spacing. Raised foundations must be engineered to resist moisture and hold the weight of the entire house. This makes foundations, such as the pier and beam construct particularly complex.
What are some signs that my home has foundation problems?
- Cracks in the walls of your home, particularly over doorways, windows or where ceiling and walls meet
- Doors become difficult to secure, open or close
- Cracks in the concrete base around the perimeter of your home
- Cracks in tile or vinyl floors
- Windows have become difficult to open or stuck
- Leaning or buldging exterior walls
- Chipping or flaking in a poured concrete perimeter
- Roof leaks
- House making sounds
- Wood damage or rot of any kind, especially in joists, piers or beams
- Driveway, patio or porch breaks away leaving a gap between the structure and you home
If you have a question about your home foundation that was not answered here, please contact us. We will do our best to give you the answers you seek. Thank you for your interest.
- Should I buy a home that has foundation problems?
- How do I hire a highly qualified foundation repair company?
- What are the key elements of foundation design?
- What are some causes of foundation problems?
- What kinds of home foundations are in use today?
- What are some signs that my home has foundation problems?
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