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New Orleans Foundation Repair Companies
Some of the most costly and potentially destructive home repairs involve foundation failures. This includes uneven foundations and sinking foundations. The two most common methods used to fix foundation problems include piering and slab-jacking. Piering is a method of leveling foundations by installing piers underneath the home. Specifically, push and helical piers are used to raise and secure a failing foundation. This technique is sometimes referred to as piling. Engineers drive steel pipe pilings through the foundation and several feet into the ground.
Push piers feature several sections of galvanized steel pipe that are drilled into the Earth with a hydraulic ram. The pipe could also be made of epoxy-coated steel. Helical piers are screw piles with steel shafts. It contains a lead section consisting of one or more helices. This is to ensure that the bearing capacity is met. Helical piers are screwed into the Earth with a hydraulic torque motor. When the piers have reached a depth that supports the weight of the above structure, it is secured to the foundation with a metal head assembly. The piers are force-tested to ensure they can support the weight of the home.
After testing, a hydraulic jack connected to the piers raises the foundation to its original level. Once the foundation is level, the piles are affixed to the wall brackets, and the house is stabilized. Usually, the piles are bolted or welded to the wall brackets.
Slab-jacking is the second method contractors use to fix foundation problems. It is usually used to fix sunken concrete. The construction worker pumps a mixture of cement, sand, and fly ash underneath the slab. This is done by drilling holes into the slab and placing hoses through all the holes. A portable pump is used to fill the holes with a mixture of materials designed to lift the slab; the slab floats up on a reservoir of cement, sand, and fly ash. It is a strong base that will prevent the slab from sinking again. The holes are patched with a concrete mixture.
Concrete sinks when the soil isn’t stable enough to support its weight. This usually occurs in soil that contains space. Between soil particles, there is enough room to hold air and water. When air and water escape from the soil, the soil particles move closer together. As the soil compacts itself under the weight of the foundation, the foundation itself moves. Eventually, the foundation becomes uneven. One cause of this is the lack of compaction of fill-dirt. Fill-dirt is the material that builders use to fill voids that form during the foundation construction process. Since it isn’t fully compacted, there is space that will be occupied by soil from above.
A granular fill would avoid this problem. This consists of sand or gravel. Trenches should be filled with sand or gravel instead of soil.
Slab-jacking is a relatively easy repair process. If problems arise, there are solutions that can be implemented on the same work day. A common problem that is reported is that the mixture used to raise the foundation doesn’t pump into the drilled holes. In fact, the mixture might even rise back up and overflow onto the basement. The best solution to fix this problem is to blow pressurized air into the hole to move any blockages. If that doesn’t work, increase the depth of the hole by drilling deeper into the sub-base.
Another problem that may arise is cracks. New cracks might form from slab-jacking and old cracks might get larger. This might be due to uneven pumping in each hole. The slab shouldn’t be raised by more than one inch while pumping mixture into each hole. If it is raised beyond one inch, too much mixture has been pumped into that hole. Another cause is overly dense mixture; dilute it with water.
If you dilute the mixture too much, it might cause the slab to rise in the wrong place. The slab might also grind against nearby concrete, preventing it from rising at all. Usually, if the mixture is too thin, it might flow underneath adjoining slabs. The best thing to do is to create a thicker mixture. If that isn’t an option, there’s another solution: saw a relief slot all the way through a slab or chip away at the concrete at the edge of the slab.
Another type of foundation repair that contractors encounter is block and base. A block and base home is built on top of concrete blocks. The home itself is made of wood. The bottom base rests on the soil and concrete blocks raise the home above the surface. These types of homes have slightly different foundation issues. Some of the signs of foundation problems in block and base homes include stuck doors, bumps or sags in the floor, a shaky feeling when walking, and spongy floors. There are several ways to fix foundation problems in block and base homes including reshim, readjustment, shaker sill, house leveling, wood replacement, and installing bell bottom piers.
Reshim involves re-leveling each base. It is the most common method for fixing foundation issues in block and base homes. The bases are realigned to support a wooden beam. If the beam isn’t supported properly, readjustment is usually performed. This involves reducing the distance between bases. If this doesn’t work, the beams are replaced with new lumber. If this isn’t corrected bumps will form in the floor and the lumber will begin to warp or bow.
If the foundation is rotted, all the wood is replaced. This is usually caused by poor drainage, broken plumbing, and small crawl space height. Another issue that requires replacement is overly spaced beams. Usually, a 4″ X 6″ shaker sill is installed to fix this problem. This prevents floor resonance and bounce.
If the crawl space is too small in a block and base home, inserting airbags underneath the home will expand the area by lifting the home. A 16″ space is ideal.
As with any problem, it is best to fix it before it gets worse. There are several signs that a foundation is failing. About 60% of homes built on expansive soils show signs of foundation problems. This includes cracks, bulging floors, and doors that won’t close. Cracks appearing on each side of a portion of the foundation wall indicate a failing foundation. The structure probably has sunk into the soil and probably will continue to if the problem isn’t fixed.
Here are some additional signs of foundation failure:
- Wall rotation
- Separation around garage door, windows, and\/or walls
- Misaligned doors and windows
- Cracked bricks
- Displaced moldings
- Cracked sheet-rock
- Cracks in floors-wall rotation is an interesting phenomenon. It usually causes a large crack across the wall. This occurs when the foundation moves diagonal or perpendicular to the house. The crack usually occurs on an internal wall as it rotates about its center of mass. It will appear as if one part of the wall has moved inward and the other part has moved outward. Another sign of wall rotation is separation between the garage trim and the brick exterior wall.These signs suddenly appear and the homeowner is usually unaware of when the failure occurred, unless they happen to hear it. The noise of foundation failure isn’t pleasant. In fact, it sounds eerie and echoes through the house. The sound isn’t confined to the day of the foundation failure. Since the soil beneath the house continues to shift under the weight of the house for years, the sound of a failing foundation could remain for years as well. It might stop when the house finally moves into its new resting place.Not only does the house become unsafe, a sense of security is lost for the homeowner when the house starts sinking. This sensation was felt across the country by many homeowners. In fact, there was an increase in foundation failures over the past few years. This capped off a growing trend that lasted nearly two decades. Foundation repair businesses reported an increase in repair calls for foundation work. Many businesses received double or triple the calls over two decades. Most of the calls are from panicked residents that don’t know what is going on. The experience is similar to a horror show, where the tiles break, the walks crack without any warning, and the porch or chimney detach from the house.
The main reason for the increase in foundation failures is the weather. Severe drought and too much rain lead to foundation issues. This could be linked to climate change. Dry summers followed by intense rain in the fall might affect the grounds in many neighborhoods. One homeowner noticed light seeping from a crack that appeared when the wall separated from the baseboard in a bedroom. The homeowner discovered that the entire back of the house had sunk about six inches. The damage lead to drafty conditions, which made the house uninviting, to say the least.
The NOAA confirmed the trend of dry periods followed by downpours since the 1990s. The changing weather conditions affected the soil. Clay soils in particular react to dry and wet conditions. During dry seasons, clay shrinks, and during the wet seasons, clay swells. Grounds consisting of clay would be unsuitable to building since these grounds are unstable. Structures that are built on clay soil tend to shift. In dry conditions, sandier soil loses its adhesive properties and tends to separate from foundations. In wetter conditions, sandier soils tend to collapse beneath structures. The gradual degradation of the soil might be accelerating due to the constantly shifting climate.
If the home is sinking and the foundation is cracking, there’s a high probability that it was built on inadequate soil. Sub-surface erosion is another possibility. This is an interesting source of soil erosion. Sub-surface flows affect soil underneath a home through seepage and pipe flow processes. Seepage involves the dislodging of soil particles from the soil matrix by reducing its attachment to other soil particles. Water-generated tunnels within soil leads to internal erosion along the tunnel walls, and eventually may contribute to the development of gullies after the tunnel collapses. The eroded material may build-up in soil pipes and lead to increasing pore water pressure. This can generate landslides, embankment failures, and reestablishment of gullies. Soil water pressure is a related factor that contributes to sub-surface erosion. The differences in soil moisture is also a contributing factor. The sudden increase and decrease of soil moisture can lead to the large scale movement of the Earth. A good way to determine if the soil is the problem is to observe the frame of the house over a period of three years. If it hasn’t distorted within this time, it is unlikely the distortion is due to full-depth foundation settlement. This problem is usually accompanied by matching cracks.
Tree removal is another cause of soil erosion and subsequent foundation shifts. The roots of trees help support the surrounding soil and when the tree is removed, the soil is no longer supported. Excess water from increasing rain events and sub-surface erosion eventually break the nearby soil apart and cause instability in the ground near the house. As this soil slowly washes away, the stability of the house is affected over time. Eventually, the foundation will start to sink. It is recommended to plant trees at least half their height away from the house. Plus, landscaping features should be designed so that water slopes away from the house. Gutters should discharge water at least five feet from the house to avoid over-saturating the soil. During droughts, it is recommended to place and turn on soaker hoses around the house for 30 minutes a day to maintain a constant level of moisture.
The total cost to fix foundations around the country is estimated to be $4 billion annually. Most homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover sinking foundations in the U.S. The recent uptick in home building and improving economy have led to more construction on unstable grounds. This is primarily due to the fact that available grounds have already been taken up by other builders and developers. Plus, the appeal of quick cash in the real estate market have lead to construction on unstable lands. The result is foundation issues in the future. Homeowners in most states are lucky enough to have a 8 to 10 year statue of limitations on inadequate construction due to poor soil conditions. This is usually enough time for any foundation issues to become apparent to the homeowner.
As startling as a failing foundation and sinking home is, the solution to fix the problem is equally amazing. There are several New Orleans foundation repair specialists that can fix residential foundations.
For residents near Baton Rouge, there’s a foundation repair company with the name of the city. Baton Rouge Foundation Repair specializes in slab foundations and pier and beam foundations. They offer free estimates that includes a thorough inspection of the interior and exterior of the home. All signs of foundation failure will be noted and relayed to the homeowner.
Across Lake Pontchartrain, the city of Slidell sits. There are a few Slidell foundation repair specialists including Innovation Foundation Repair. The nearby town of Madisonville, Covington, and Mandeville can count on this company. They will consider all Madisonville foundation repair projects, Mandeville foundation repair projects, and Covington foundation repair projects.
Repairing a foundation is a better option than replacing the foundation. There are several advantages to repairing a foundation through the slabjacking method. The mixture used to fill the region below the slab is stable enough to hold the slab and the rest of the home without any further sinking. The slab is much stronger and capable of providing a stable foundation for the home. Slabjacking doesn’t require any removal of existing materials. In fact, it’s a fairly clean process without any need for excavation or demolition. Since the slab remains intact and part of the foundation, it still functions even during the slabjacking process. The slab can be walked on immediately. This can’t be said for the replacement process, which would require a wait of 28 days for the new concrete to cure. Plus, there’s no debris to remove and transport to waste facilities. This results in an environmentally friendly clean-up.
Another advantage of repairing the foundation through slabjacking is that it can be done during any time of the year and in any weather condition. The surrounding area is unaffected, so the back yard remains intact during the process. The grass will still be there after the workers leave. Plus, the color of the concrete remains constant.
Piering has its advantages as well. Like slabjacking, the house can be used while the repair takes place. There’s no need to leave the house and find other accommodations. The workers can easily carry the tools they need to work into the house and setup in a specific area, away from the rest of the home. The piering equipment is portable and can be used in tight spaces. Not only does piering prevent any further settling of the soil beneath the foundation, it also levels the foundation. There won’t be anymore cracking or creaking after the foundation is leveled. The work doesn’t affect others parts of the property, so the yard is left intact and it will appear just as beautiful as it did before the contractors arrived at the home.
Here’s a detailed overview of the piering method. Approximately 10 inches below the grade beam, a hole is dug that is about 3 feet by 4 feet. The excavation is made adjacent to the foundation. Inside the excavation, the soil is removed. The footing bottom is scrapped clean of soil and the foundation is chipped smooth. This is done to prepare the area for the support bracket, which must fit properly. A guide sleeve is added to the support bracket. Brackets and hydraulics are installed. Each section of a pier is forced into the ground until refusal at an average penetration power of 50,000 pounds of force. The last section is cut about 5 inches above the support bracket. A fastening plate is installed at the top of the pier.
The structure is raised with hydraulics, which operate sequentially. After raising the structure to the pre-determined height, the fastening plates and support bracket are permanently attached to the pier column. Several readings are recorded at each pier including depth, pressure, and elevation. The excavated soil is returned and compacted. Any garden plants, shrubs, or concrete removed to install the piers are returned to their original place.