In the business world, strategic planning plays an important role. Companies don’t (usually) simply decide what product and/or service to offer and immediately market it to customers. Similarly, having a strong foundation in place for a structure is an essential part of keeping the whole building secure.
There are generally two types of foundations: shallow and deep. Shallow foundations transfer building loads to the earth close to the surface. Conversely, deep ones transfer building loads to the earth farther down from the surface.
At PierTech systems, we utilize helical piers. These are deep foundation solutions used to secure new construction or repair existing foundations. Helical piers can be used to construct and repair both residential and commercial buildings.
How do you know, though, if the foundation of your structure needs repair? There are multiple signs that can point to a problem, both inside a building and out. If you encounter any of these issues and don’t address them, you might be confronted with more serious and costly problems in the future.
Structural Signs – Interior
First, let’s take a look at the building interior. One of the most noticeable signs is cracks, whether on the walls, ceiling or columns. Some may appear as gaps between crown molding and the ceiling. Though such cracks may only be the result of damage from something hitting the surface, they could point to a larger foundation settlement problem. If your structure has bowing basement walls, it could be caused by pressure from outside its walls.
Another indicator is doors or windows that stick and don’t open or close easily. Neither should fit too loosely or tightly within the frame or fail to completely close. Similarly, there shouldn’t be gaps between caulking and the window or door it surrounds. Even cracks in a window can signal issues with a building’s foundation and should be monitored for any widening or spreading.
Not surprisingly, uneven, sunken, sloping or cracked floors often point to a faulty foundation. Slight changes in the foundation typically aren’t a cause for alarm, but if there’s a difference of more than an inch or so, you should have the structure examined. If you’re not sure if the floor is uneven, consider using a tape measure or level to check.
Water damage in a building is often very noticeable, especially if it causes stains or mold growth. You may see it in the walls of your basement or other areas of your structure, and it can cause cracking. Not only can water damage negatively affect the building, exposure to mold can be hazardous to your health.
Structural Signs – Exterior
Just like it can affect the interior of a structure, water can cause problems to the outside of it. Many foundation problems found in homes are caused by poor water drainage. Pay special attention to any standing water around your home.
As with the inside of buildings, cracks found on the exterior of your structure often point to foundation issues. These cracks can be located at the base of the building, in the masonry or around doors and windows. Some such cracks look like stair steps. Others appear as deep, vertical lines.
If your structure has a chimney that is leaning or cracking, it might be a sign your foundation is settling. The same can true for a sagging roofline.
Factors in Foundation Movement
One of the most common causes of foundation movement is the shrinking and swelling of expansive soils. Soil expands when its moisture content increases and shrinks when the wetness decreases. When the swelling soil causes a foundation to rise higher than the desired elevation, upheaval occurs. Other causes of foundation movement include:
- Drying of soils from the sun and weather conditions
- Moisture loss from roots
- Shallow footings
- Broken or cracked pipes
- Extremely wet soil
- Compressible soil
- Organic layer
- Soils affected by water tables
- Earthquakes and tremors
Although dealing with foundation repair can be intimidating, addressing the issue at the outset of any of these signs can save you time and money. Waiting until you encounter more serious foundation problems may cause other structural issues.
If you’d like to discuss foundation issues or would like an estimate to repair your structure, call us at 866-536-5007.