Buildings of any age are subject over time to weather conditions, ground shifting, warping, and more.
Foundation Wall Movement
Foundation problems should be addressed as soon as they are discovered and before the damage is irreversible. The two most common types of foundation failures are foundation settlement (vertical movement of the footers) and foundation wall bowing (lateral movement of below-grade walls).
The most common and typically most economical method of repairing failed foundations that have settled is to install a series of steel underpinning piers below the affected foundation area. The concept is founded on the principle of turning or pushing an anchor into stable subsoil strata until the torque or pressure applied indicates that the necessary load capacity has been achieved. The load-bearing steel shafts are screwed into the ground independent of the structure and their bearing or holding capacity is verified as the system is installed.
Adjustable brackets are then attached to the base of your foundation walls, connecting the anchors to the foundation. The weight of your home is then shifted to the anchors. In the process, foundations, walls and floors are repositioned (i.e. "jacked up") and retained from further movement.
Foundation Settlement Walls
Typical signs of foundation settlement are stair-step cracks and vertically sheared bricks or blocks. The direction of the cracks is very important in determining whether the foundation wall movement is vertical or lateral (bowing) as the remediation design is entirely different.
Bowed Foundation Walls
Bowing walls will commonly have a long horizontal crack starting 3 to 6 feet from a corner foundation to the opposite corner of the same wall and terminate into stair-step or diagonal cracks leading to the ceiling or floor.
The three most common remedial methods of stabilizing bowing walls are installing a series of (1) vertical strut or I-beams, (2) wall anchors or dead-man anchors, and (3) carbon strips. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages and not all methods can be used in every situation.
We often see damaged framing where beams and other larger framing members are split along sap lines, knotholes, and excessive nailing. Sometimes plumbers or electricians will have incorrectly cut through a member to allow passage of a pipe or wire, resulting in a crack running off the cut.
One of the most effective and easy ways to repair this problem is to attach a board alongside the damaged one. Sometimes this will require heavy bolts installed through both pieces, but most often nails will suffice. Sometimes the damaged member will have to be lifted before application and may require a jack.
Retaining Wall Damage
One of the main causes of retaining wall damage is excessive water build-up behind the wall, or hydrostatic pressure. Whether it is a simple retaining wall of wood, stone, or brick or a large complex retaining wall of concrete, water damage is an ever-present danger to the walls integrity. Water pressure can crack and deform retaining walls leading to costly repairs and in some cases replacement.
Wall drainage systems installed on the back end of a retaining wall can minimize the damage due to water and extend the life and integrity of any retaining wall.
When do you need a structural inspection?
- When there are cracks in the foundation or walls.
- When there is bowing or sagging in the walls and roof.
- Where there is termite, or rot damage.
- When an appraiser perceives a structural defect.
- When a new building is under construction.
- When a mortgage company/bank needs an engineer’s/ surveyor's opinion before writing a loan.
- When there is a concern about the structural integrity of the building or home.
- When there is fire, flood, water or high wind damage.
If you suspect your home has any structural deficiency, contact us to perform a structural evaluation before a small problem becomes more serious.