Foundation problems caused by expansive clay soils usually develop when the amount of water in the soil changes non‐uniformly under the foundation structure.
The climate is such that these clay soils shrink when dry and swell when wet, resulting in up and down movement of the house. If this occurs unevenly (one area of the soil under the house gets more water or dries out faster), the house may become twisted, strained and damaged. Foundation maintenance, in general, consists of one major concept: The moisture in the soil under the house and around the house should be as uniform as possible at all times. Some measures to help accomplish this are:
→ Install good ground cover. This will prevent excessive moisture from seeping deep into the soil, causing problems to the foundation structure. This will also prevent erosion of the soil. Good ground cover also prevents excessive "drying out" of the soil through evaporation & will help maintain a more constant uniform moisture level in the soil beneath.
→ Water the soil around the house during dry periods just enough to keep the grass green. More watering is needed in areas with more abundant shrubbery, plants, and trees. The south and west sides of the house are more exposed to the sun, and may need more watering to offset rapid evaporation.
→ NEVER water too close to the foundation. Stay about 18 inches away with the water.
→ NEVER pour water into the cracks of the ground. These cracks usually go a few feet deep, and the water will reach soil that is normally undisturbed by concentrated amounts of moisture. Depending upon the shrink/ swell potential of the soil, the soil may upheave, or it may consolidate and lose volume; either way, this will undermine the foundation and cause problems.
→ NEVER place sand, sandy loam, or rocks around the foundation. They are very porous, and allow water to pass quickly to the soil below, where the sun and wind cannot dry it out. Clay soils are non‐porous, and are recommended for proper water drainage away from the foundation.
→ NEVER allow water to pond around the foundation. If water stands for very long, it will seep under the foundation, causing problems.
→ Keep soil sloped away from the foundation to prevent ponding of water. Standing water next to a home is a major cause of uneven stress on a foundation which can result in localized movement of the foundation. Long term this can result in the soil heaving or consolidating depending on the soil type resulting in uneven foundation movement.
→ Water the soil evenly around the foundation during the dry times of the year. Water enough to keep the soil from pulling away from the foundation or cracking. The lawn area of the home should also be watered. The soil should be watered enough to allow the water to soak into the soil several inches. If soaker hoses are used, place the hoses one to two feet from the foundation and use about one hour every other day. Do not over water the home around the foundation. Over-watering the foundation can cause the soil to heave or can cause the soil to lose its load bearing capacity and allow the house to sink.
→ Remove trees that are close to the foundation if the trees are not native trees. Root barriers may also be an acceptable alternative to removing trees.
→ Plant new trees at least 30 ‐ 40 feet away from the foundation. Do not plant fast growing trees such as mulberry, Arizona ash, silver leaf maple, etc.
→ Maintain the plumbing system & prevent leaks in showers and in the piping. If you have a pier and beamhome, have the crawl space inspected periodically (annually) to make sure it is dry.
How long does a foundation repair job take?
Typically only one or two days is needed to complete most repairs. We have a large crew with 5 foremen which allows us to combine them and schedule accordingly which reduces costs on both sides. During the estimate our technician can advise if you should plan for We employ 5 foremen and combine them at times to get even large jobs done in a single day; this reduces the time and costs for both parties.
Installing exterior foundation piers requires digging holes next to your foundation, approximately 36 inches square and 4 feet deep and about 1 foot under the concrete perimeter beam. Many home owners have bushes, planters, trees or grass next to their homes and this will be affected by our work. We will make an earnest attempt to prune bushes back to access our pier locations or to dig and remove your plants as best as possible. We will replant these items but we can offer no warranty that they will not be affected by this work.
What will happen to sheet rock, tile floors, and exterior wall surfaces?
It may have taken years for your home to settle and show signs of stress on walls or floors, but your home is always under some sort of stress due to environmental factors. This stress shows itself in the form of cracks on the walls or bricks, on the floor or concrete underneath, and on the trim of your home. When repairing the foundation, these cracks can close up, but it is also possible for new ones to appear; this is because you are correcting years of settlement in a short period of time. Of course, the longer the foundation is neglected, the more possibility there is for cosmetic damages.
Preparing your home and what to expect
To prevent damage to personal items, we ask that you remove items from walls, mantles, or shelving that may come loose or fall off in the areas that we are working. You will need to remove exterior items that may be in the area of the repair, such as grill equipment, hot tubs, toys, or furniture. When we are only doing exterior work, we will need access to the interior to monitor the lift and to check on the structure as we press piers. Interior piers will require access to the rooms in which we will be working, and in general all the pathways to the interior and the exterior doors. The actual leveling process is done in a matter of hours; our purpose is to bring your home back to as close to the original foundation level without causing additional damage or stress to the structure. It is possible that sheet rock could show new cracks, doors may need to be adjusted, or newly installed interiors may need a minor touch-up. Our foreman will monitor your home during the lift and will take all precautions to minimize any issues.
PLEASE NOTE: It takes time for all of the finishes in your home to release the stored energy caused by the stress of foundation repair on tilted surfaces. We recommend that you wait one month minimum, before patching and repairing cracked sheet rock. We recommend patching all exterior surfaces right away to prevent air, insect and water penetrations.