Spot Foundation Problems

Foundation Problems vs. Foundation Settling: What Is the Difference?

Many customers ask us about the difference between foundation problems vs. settling. Foundations can be constructed in many different ways using piers, spread footings, and pilings, but most homes in Texas are made of concrete poured on steel. Sometimes the foundation settles and remains sturdy for years to come. Other times, foundation problems develop that require immediate attention. A good foundation does more than just hold your house above the ground. It also insulates against the cold, keeps moisture out, and holds fast against the movement of the earth around it.

Our Dallas-Fort Worth foundation repair service areas cover Plano, Garland, Arlington and more. Call us today for a free estimate!

What Is Settling?

“House settling” is a term used to describe natural wear-and-tear of a foundation over time. It’s normal for homes to sink a bit further down into the ground, no matter how well a foundation has been constructed – especially given the climate and soil type of Texas.

Over-excavating and inadequate back-filling can result in some settling, but the biggest contributor is the natural expansion and contraction of the soil. As the clay in our soil gets exposed to cycles of moisture and dryness, some shifting and compacting will inevitably occur.

Roughly one-quarter of all homes in America are affected by this type of settling, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Many of these homes will be okay, but an estimated 10 percent of these homes will experience severe foundation issues as a result. The rates of occurrence  are much higher in the DFW area.

House Settling vs. Foundation Problems

Signs of house settling that do NOT necessarily indicate foundation problems include the following.  If you see any of these, do not hesitate to call as it could also be a foundation issue.

  • You observe thin, hairline cracks, less than 1/4 inch wide.
  • Tiny cracks appear in an L-shaped section of foundation or in the mortar between blocks.
  • The cracks in your home do not appear to be growing longer or wider.
  • There are no other warning signs besides a few cracks here and there.

Do You Have A Faulty Foundation?

It can be hard to believe, but brand-new homes sometimes end up with foundation failures within the first five years. We see this a lot of times when a home was built during a particularly rainy season when the soil is as swollen as it can get, followed by a period of extreme drought, where clay can retract, causing the house to plummet up to five inches within a few months.

Sometimes a home has undiagnosed issues caused by plumbing problems, over-watering plants, or improper sloping and drainage away from the foundation. Contractors can contribute to foundation failure when they rush the curing of the concrete, interrupt the concrete pouring process, or have not firmly tamped down the soil before adding the concrete.

You can tell it is foundation problems vs. settling when:

  • There are wide cracks, greater than ¼ inch in width, or bulging walls.
  • You note jagged cracks running from the foundation at a 45-degree angle.
  • The doors and windows of your home are sticking for no apparent reason.
  • The top story of your home exhibits cracks above door and window frames.
  • There are stair-stepping cracks in the brick veneer of your home.

Worried About Foundation Problems or Settling in Dallas, Tx?

Contact Align Foundation Repair to discuss your concerns about possible Dallas foundation problems. A foundation specialist from our family-run business would be happy to come out and take a look, free of charge. We are an A+ Better Business Bureau rated service offering a full range of foundation repair services to suit your needs and budget.

 

Foundation Repair Tips

Do Your Homework: Know a Home’s Foundation Before Buying

The Big D is home to beautiful multi-million dollar mansions, quaint little bungalows, and everything in between. Just as styles of homes in Dallas vary widely, so can their foundations. It’s critical to distinguish between different types of home foundations  so you can make an informed decision when purchasing your next house.

If you’re looking to buy a new home in Dallas, or you’ve ever just been super interested in home construction in the area, here’s a quick guide to understanding the various home foundation types found throughout Texas.

Poured Concrete Slab Foundations

Simple and cost-effective, this is a top choice of many builders because it’s quick. This method became popular as a result of the housing boom in America post-World War II and builders sought an efficient means to accommodate the demand.  Poured concrete slab foundations are still commonly used today because of their overall versatility.

The process goes like this: before pouring the cement, topsoil is removed, and if well-drained conditions are not present, a layer of gravel is added to the lot. Also, to create a durable, lasting foundation, builders will reinforce the area with steel bars (also called “rebar’) and a welded wire mesh. Despite their best efforts, over time, slabs can buckle, shift, and crack, due to the ground conditions, extreme weather, or geological events.

Finally, before pouring the cement, electrical and plumbing systems are installed and encased in the concrete. If you’re planning on doing any renovations, this can create a problem, so when buying a home make sure the foundation type matches your future plans.

Pier and Beam Foundations

Before the 1960s, most homes possessed another type of foundation, pier and beam foundations (also called “post and beam foundations”). In this case, a home’s treated floor is raised about a foot-and-a-half off the ground, resting on a several concrete “piers” or blocks connected with pressure-treated wooden beams and wooden joists, creating a subfloor for the dwelling.

Similar to a poured concrete foundation, plumbing and electrical systems are underneath the home. However, due to the crawl space that results from this type of construction, if one of these systems should require attention, they are much more accessible to plumbers and electricians.

Deterioration is one of the most prevalent problems with pier and beam construction. Wood decomposition occurs over time, even with pressure-treated lumber. Replacements can be costly. The threat of vermin infestation is ever-present: termites, insects, rodents, and small animals frequently make their nests in crawl spaces. While rare in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, freezing temperatures can affect exposed pipes, causing them to burst, leading to flooding.

Frame Foundations

This very old technique is very rarely used today. The foundation consists of framed lumber that is supported by many different types of piers at varying intervals. Most frame homes were built during times when building codes did not exist. Hence, homes right next to each other could be built in very different ways, with different underlying structures. You will find these homes mostly in historic areas and areas built before 1940.

Dallas Foundation Repair Experts

Whichever type of foundation supports your new home, problems can arise and must be addressed immediately to protect your investment. For a comprehensive, no-cost foundation evaluation, contact Align Foundation Repair and ensure your peace of mind. We specialize in pier and beam foundation repair, as well as all other foundation repair services in Dallas-Fort Worth.

 

Foundation Crack repair

How Different Soil Types Might Affect Your Dallas Home’s Foundation

No matter how solidly your home’s foundation is built, the soil variations in the Dallas area may have a lasting impact on the health of your home’s foundation. When the soil is filled with too much sand or clay, foundation issues have a habit of cropping up. Compromised soil affects the foundation, in turn affecting the home. If you suspect soil foundation trouble in your home, contact our Dallas foundation repair experts for a free evaluation and estimate. See below to learn about Texas soil types and how they may affect the future stability of your home.

Dallas: The Blackland Prairie

The Dallas region is part of Texas’s Blackland Prairie. Most of this region has relatively deep soil, which means the bedrock is far below the soil. In the western part of the Blackland Prairie, a chalk bedrock helps to support foundations. Throughout the rest of the region, that deep soil doesn’t provide any extra sturdiness to the foundations of Dallas homes. The soil in many areas of Dallas County slopes, which affects how the water runs through it and whether water will collect near your foundation.

Clay

In the Blackland Prairie, you’ll find different kinds of clay that mostly compose the soil. Clay has the ability to hold much water, which is why its consistency changes so drastically when it’s wet versus when it’s dry. Unfortunately, clay expands when it’s wet and shrinks when it’s dry, which makes it an unstable soil for home foundations.

When clay starts to crack on the surface, that means it’s extremely dry and is no longer supporting your foundation. In the worst case situation, your foundation will start to shift as it seeks out the support it lacks from the clay. Because Dallas summers are dry and hot, summer is the season during which you have to worry about the clay soil damaging your foundation the most.

Loam

Some parts of Dallas County have soil with more loam in it, which is great news for your foundation. Loam is a mixture of sand, clay, and silt, and these three combine to create a stable soil that doesn’t experience much expansion or shrinkage due to water levels. As long as you don’t end up with a layer of clay on top of your loam soil, it will support your foundation beautifully. Keep in mind, though, that in the Dallas area, most loam soil mixes with clay, which reduces some of its sturdiest properties.

Sand

In a few Dallas County areas, you’ll find sandy soil, though even in these areas it’s still mixed with some clay. When sand is packed tightly, it creates a sturdy foundation that drains water away from your house quite well. Unfortunately, too much water can disturb even tightly packed sand, washing away key foundation support from beneath your home and causing foundation issues.

Be on the Lookout for Cracks

Due to the soil conditions of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, we advise homeowners to periodically “eyeball” their home interior and exterior for any signs of cracking. A crack does not necessarily indicate the origin of the problem, as the weakest point in the soil may not be directly underneath the crack. This is why it’s essential to bring in a foundation repair expert to pinpoint the specific problem areas.

Aside from direct repair, potential remedies may include a customized drainage solution to prevent future runoff water from collecting near the foundation.

Schedule a Free Estimate in Dallas-Fort Worth

Some foundation issues show up through visible cracks in your foundations. Other times, the changes are subtler. Pay attention to whether your interior doors are sticking or refusing to latch. Look for cracks in the walls, and pay attention to how well your windows are opening.

With so much clay in your soil, you have to keep an eye out for foundation issues in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, so you can call a professional before the problem gets out of hand.

Even the sturdiest foundation is heavily dependent on the soil it rests on. Our foundation repair services are diverse in order to address specific needs. Give us a call today to learn more about how soil and foundations affect each other, or for a free inspection and estimate.