A foundation is simply a structure that is built on top (and sometimes below) of the ground to support a home. The home sits on top of the foundation and the foundation sits on top of the ground. It is a simple concept but it can become complex when homeowners are evaluating their Home Foundation Repair problem. Pier and beam and slab on the ground are the most common home foundations with slab on the ground being the preferred foundation built in the south.
The main culprit that creates foundation movement and the need for Home Foundation Repair is water. When a new home is built the ground under the new foundation will be uniform in its moisture content. At this time there are no problems such as plumbing leaks or sub-surface water movement. However, over time some homes will experience these problems. But the most common problem is one that the homeowner has no control over – weather. When there are heavy rains the expansive soil around the perimeter of the foundation will absorb a large amount of water and swell. This swelling will create an upward force on the entire perimeter of the foundation while the interior portion of the foundation will remain relatively stable. The first signs of home and foundation damage will begin to appear. Later, during hot and dry months, the expansive soil around the perimeter of the foundation will shrink due to loss of water caused by evaporation and transpiration. Trees and shrubs will also absorb large quantities of water near a home’s foundation. When the soil shrinks too much the outer perimeter of the foundation will lose its structural support. There is nothing between the ground and the outer foundation but air. The weight of the home will then “push” the foundation to the point of support, which is the shrunken soil, and additional signs of damage will appear in the home. What has happened is that part of the foundation has moved (because of expansion or contraction of the soil) and other parts of the foundation have not moved. Since the home is securely fastened to the foundation it is moving too. This movement can create both structural and cosmetic damage to the home.
A homeowner will usually see the first signs of foundation movement in the form of cracked sheetrock in the interior of the home or stair-stepped cracks in mortar and brick on the outside of the home. There can be other signs such as windows and doors that do not open and shut properly or in more extreme cases, actually “feeling” that the house is not level and leaning to one side or the other. Now is the time for the homeowner to accurately assess his/her need for Home Foundation Repair. When a homeowner decides to ask for expert help he/she can receive various and conflicting information from various Home Foundation Repair experts. What most of the experts will not tell the homeowner is that the majority of home foundation problems are cosmetic and that the structural integrity of the home is not threatened. However, these cosmetic deficiencies can still pose a host of problems for the homeowner. He or she must endure an unsightly brick veneer that has cracked or adjust/trim jammed doors or fix broken plumbing pipes. Most homeowners choose to repair these foundations because they want a home that looks and feels like it is in good condition. Also, if the foundation has not been repaired or stabilized before a home sale then the foundation problems will probably prevent the sale from closing.
There are various Home Foundation Repair solutions presented to homeowners. They range from the cheap and quick to the time-tested and durable. The most time-testing method of repairing (actually stabilizing) a home foundation is with the use of bell-bottom piers. It is the method recommended by the majority of engineers because it is proven and will last the life of the home without further problems. It is the same method used to build support columns for highway bridges.
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