After you understand the basics of your home’s foundation and you’ve learned the signs of foundation issues, you will be able to assess whether or not your home may have a foundation problem. But, once you suspect that your home has foundation issues, it’s time to look into both the foundation process and finding the right foundation expert.
It’s important to understand the foundation process in case you may have in issue. That way, when you consult a foundation expert you will be able to correctly assess the situation, ensure you understand what’s going on with your home and prepare for the changes an expert will implement.
- Home Assessment
This consists of a walk-through by a professional foundation consultant. During the home assessment, experts create a visual map of the home. They’ll look to see where the damage exists in order to determine the cause of the issue.
Experts approach this foundation inspection with both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Usually, by noting where the cracks or other type of damage has occurred, experts are able to determine the root area.
- Dig Into the Numbers
Once they assess the damage to the home, they move on to the next step of the inspection, which allows a more precise assessment of the damage through measurements.
Experts will work to create a diagram of elevation – mapping out inconsistencies within the home, which they will then compare to the visual inspection map that was created within the first step.
Then, they’ll take any roofing problems and humidity changes into account because those factors can cause cracking issues as well.
- Determining the Cause
With both the visual map and, now, the actual measurements, the consultant will likely be able to pinpoint the actual cause of the foundation damage, if any. Comparing the discrepancies or overlap in the two mapped diagrams will help them scientifically calculate the roots of the damage.
They’ll also take the aforementioned factors of other damage, like roof damage, along with weather changes, like humid or a dry season, watering changes to determine which factors are contributing to the foundation problems. Weather is a big factor causing foundation problems and thus repairs in the Dallas area.
A foundation expert will ask a lot of questions. It may be helpful to think about some of their questions. While they will likely ask themselves these, it’s helpful if you have any information that may help them pinpoint any contributing factors to the foundation damage.
They’ll ask questions to gather information (from both you and the home), such as:
- Where is the most damage?
- Has it rained a lot this season?
- Has there been a drought?
- Is there any erosion in corners?
- Plumbing damage?
- Where do overlaps exist between the visual damage and measurements?
All of these can determine why a slab or foundation is moving. It must be a comprehensive approach that looks at all potential factors to determine the true cause.
- Assess the Damage
If the expert determines there is, in fact, foundation movement, they’ll need to judge how many piers will be needed, based on where your home’s concrete beams are located.
What’s a “pier?” Piers are large cylinders that are driven into the ground that support the foundation. These cylinders, or piers, are installed by digging out near the foundation every six to eight feet, which normally resolves the foundation issue. These are usually placed around the perimeter beams, not the internal beams.
Based on your home’s measurements and the extent of the damage found, experts will be able to determine how many piers will be necessary to level your home’s foundation.
When developing a repair plan, there are two main factors to address: the level of the foundation and stabilization. Not only does the foundation need to be leveled, it needs to stay that way. A great expert will develop a plan that addresses both factors. (See here for details in Allen or Frisco.)
- The Foundation Repair Process Implementation
The actual repair process is rather straightforward and doesn’t take as much time as you would think. Experts begin the process by digging holes straight down along the foundation, next to the spots they’ve determined piers should be placed.
Once they have created an accurately sized hole, they begin to install the piers. The piers are installed in sections, starting directly under the slab with different types of locking mechanisms keeping them aligned.
Piers need to be installed one at a time because the goal is to place as much weight as possible on each pier when it’s installed, to disperse the weight between each pier installed.
At that point, experts use a tool called a hydraulic ram, which is basically like a car jack but a lot more intense. This tool is able to expand and push the installed piers. At this point, the process becomes an applied math equation between the weight of the house and the force of friction.
Through the pier’s interlocking mechanisms, there’s a point where the friction is greater than the weight of the house, causing the house to rise, which is when experts must calculate when the home is level.
Then, the hydraulic rams are replaced with a different type of jack that allows more precision. The next step is to level or lift the house where the piers are. By lifting across multiple piers at the same time (just like you’d make level a picture you’re hanging), experts will stick a level into the ground where the piers are to ensure the home is level.
As the foundation gets closer to leveling, you’ll be able to visibly see the signs of repair, such as cracks closing and doors working again. That’s because when everything was originally installed, it was level and it’s returning to that same level.
Given the cooperation of weather, the average job is about 12 piers, which is enough to span across the front of the home (the most common area that needs work) which is about how many piers that can be installed in a day. The average installation job (digging, installing piers, etc., replacing/filling in holes) takes about one day. See this post to get a better idea of the average foundation repair cost in DFW.
- Creating a Long-Term Plan to Avoid Future Damage
Remember, leveling the foundation is just the first of a two-step place. The next is stabilizing the foundation in order to ensure this issue doesn’t continue in this area or other parts of the house. Installing the piers do help with this but you want to address why this issue happened in the first place.
Do you need a root barrier because it was cause by the tree? Do you need to install gutters to stop erosion? Are you watering correctly? Does your yard need a french drain installed? These are the types of questions experts will ask to help you create a plan in order to avoid future damage from occurring.
It’s important to remember that, within the foundation repair process, you’ll need to work with the expert to both fix the issue (by leveling the home) and ensure you know the root of the issue to create a plan that corrects whatever caused the issue in the first place.
While the piers will correct the issue for a while simply with installation, issues can arise again if you do not seek out the root of the problem and correct it so it doesn’t occur again down the road. Seek out the right foundation repair company, where experts will work with you to both correct and address the issues.
Learn more about what you can expect from a good foundation repair expert and what you should look for in a foundation repair company within the last part of this series, coming soon.
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