Foundation Repair and Texas Soil
Soils vary from city to city – Call the experts who have seen and fixed it all!
Owning a home or commercial building is the biggest investment you’ll ever make. You hope that the structure will stand the test of time, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. More often than not, you’ll eventually run into foundation problems, which can run the gamut and differ from house to house and city to city. How and why does this happen?
Foundation settling and shifting can be caused by building a structure on expanding or contracting soil, improperly compacted fill soils, or from poor or erroneous maintenance of the earth around the foundation. Expansive soils, in particular, are everywhere in North Texas and essentially acts as a sponge (dry out and shrink during the summer and absorb water and swell in the winter and spring). As the soil under the house shrinks and swells, the house and foundation will move up and down. As long as the foundation movement is not great enough to damage the house or foundation, or cause cosmetic damage, most people don’t see it as a foundation repair problem. But most of the time, they are not so lucky. Below are just a few of the warning signs you should be wary of:
- Doors not opening properly
- Cracks in sheetrock
- Cracks in concrete slab floors
- Gaps beside window frames
- Exterior cracks
Whatever the cause for the foundation problems, settlement of any kind can ruin a building’s value and even render it unsafe or unlivable. How quickly you respond is the key. Who you call for help is critical!
RS Foundations in Lewisville, Texas has been providing state-of-the-art residential and commercial foundation repair on existing slab and pier & beam foundations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex for more than 30 years. We specialize in steel and concrete pressed peers to stabilize your foundation and ensure your home or business remains in tip-top shape for years down the road. We are full-service, meaning we can tackle everything from standard foundation repair to providing drainage solutions and more. Our solutions are both proven and cost-effective.
SLAB FOUNDATION REPAIR
A slab foundation is a flat, thick layer of concrete upon which a home or commercial business is built. They are generally poured on the ground and do not have basements or crawl spaces in Texas. Slab foundations have grade beam around the perimeter of the slab, and will have grade beams throughout the interior of the slab. Depending on the size and age of home. Settlement of any kind can destroy the integrity of concrete slab foundation and lead to major problems with the structural integrity of the property. Naturally, the longer the problem exists, the more expensive foundation repairs and cosmetic damages will cost to repair. There are a number of ways to repair a slab foundation in Texas, but the most popular are concrete pressed piers and steel piers. Both have been used for decades and are an effective tool for structural support.
CONCRETE PRESSED PIERS (see diagram below) – Concrete Pressed Piers are more commonly used for foundation repair because of their advantages over other methods, including drilled piers, poured footings, and mud jacking. Benefits of pressed piers include shorter installation periods and deeper pier depth. They are also less abrasive to your landscape than drilled piers or poured footings. LEARN MORE About Concrete Pressed Piers.
STEEL PIERS (see diagram below) – Steel piers can be pushed 75 feet into the soil, which provides fantastic support to foundations everywhere since they can support more weight and cannot be affected by soil movement like other types of foundation piers. It is critical that steel piers be installed so they reach a depth where they reach bedrock. LEARN MORE about Steel Piers.
RS Foundations uses either concrete pressed piers or steel pressed piers to stabilize the foundation of your home or business. We install the piers to refusal and level the structure to the allowable tolerances. Our knowledgeable consultant can determine which pier is right for your home and walk you through the process.
PRESSED PIERS – Pressed piers are driven through the existing problematic soils around and under the slab until the frictional buildup is so great that the structure is lifted and supported. Typically, drilled piers are only 12-15 feet in depth and poured footers even less. This depth could be too shallow for the existing soils around and under the foundation. The way to ensure the Lifetime Warranty is to drive piers past the active zone of movement in your soil. Pressed Concrete and Pressed Steel Piers are designed to do just that.
PIER & BEAM FOUNDATION REPAIR
Pier & beam foundations are exactly what they sound like – wooden beams that are supported by piers or pad and blocks. Some have a concrete perimeter beam as well. Over time, environmental factors can take their toll, and the foundation can settle and shift, which is why you want to call RS Foundations. We have years of professional experience fixing these and other problems that can arise with your pier & beam foundation, and we offer several different types of piers to meet different needs. Our trained technician will help you find a solution that is within your budget and which solves your foundation problems. We have repair plans that are proven and COST-EFFECTIVE!!
There are two types of pier and beam construction:
The first is the pier & beam that is constructed of joists supported by wooden beams usually on wooden piers. We would install updated pad and blocks underneath or reshim the existing ones so that they are supporting the wood beams while leveling the floors. There also could be rotted wood that needs to be replaced.
The second type of pier & beam construction is a pier & beam home that has a solid concrete beam along the perimeter and poured footings underneath supporting the subfloor. In this case, you may need piers to support excessive settlement along the perimeter in addition to reshimming of the existing footings.
Slab and Pier & Beam Maintenance Tips:
- 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 and 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 water-ing 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 up-heave, 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 foundations. They are porous and allow water to pass quickly to the soil. Clay soils are nonporous 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.
- 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 them for about one hour every other day. 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.
- 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 & beam home, have the crawl space inspected annually to make sure it is dry.
We have clay soil here in North Texas, and pooling or excess water can cause any foundation to raise up. This is because the clay acts like a sponge and swells when wet. This can cause wood rotting or the pad/blocks under the home to sink, which causes damage. RS FOUNDATIONS specializes in installing drain systems around your home where there tends to be standing water, including:
- Surface drains
- French drains
- Downspout/Gutter tie-ins
The soil around the home should slope away from the house at a rate of 1/2″ per foot; this prevents water from standing near the foundation. If you have low spots or the site conditions simply don’t allow this change in grade, a surface drain system may be right for your home. Our consultants will be able to advise you if french drains will work for your unique situation during your free evaluation.
ROOT BARRIER INSTALLATION
The act of cutting off the roots of trees that are growing near a building by installing a barrier to prevent them from encroaching in an area where they are not desired is called installing a root barrier. The need for root barriers is related to the fact that expansive clay soil shrinks as it dries out. Any structure that expansive clay soil is supporting will move downward as the soil dries and shrinks. If the soil dries on one side of the structure and not the other, the soil shrinks where it has dried and remains expanded where it has not dried, causing the structure to experience differential settlement. Differential settlement can cause serious damage to a structure.
A root barrier is usually installed between concrete foundations or flatwork and adjacent trees within their mature height from the foundation and where there is expansive clay soil to prevent tree roots from consuming moisture from the soil under the area of concern. Installation of root barriers can prevent damage to a concrete slab on grade foundations when appropriately installed. The soil under a structure will swell or expand as it becomes rehydrated and in doing so will lift the portion of the structure that has experienced differential settlement back to near the level of the structure where differential settlement has not occurred.
RS Foundations only installs root barriers that are made with an impermeable, durable material that can withstand burial in soil for an extended period of time.
We appreciate the kinds words from our customers…
“Mike came to our house in March to look at our foundation. He was professional and quickly drew up the outline of the foundation of our house and measured the foundation levels at various points around the perimeter of the house. He advised that our foundation was in good condition. He did not try to sell us on his services. If fact he told us that the minor cracking we had in our drywall was cosmetic. Very impressed that he did not once mention getting any foundation work done.”