The Dallas-Fort Worth economic engine has been fueling population growth in recent years. According to DallasNews.com, the population in North Texas has grown by more than 100,000 people last year. Large companies such as Toyota Motor, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and others have contributed to this growth by moving thousands of their workers into the area. This population expansion has created a high demand for homes but high prices and limited supply means these people are looking for apartments.
While this is exciting news for the apartment owner, the Dallas-Fort Worth area and much of North Central Texas does present some serious maintenance challenges for landlords. Specifically, the combined effects of droughts and the area’s expansive clay soil are very hard on the foundations of most buildings.
How Droughts and Expansive Clay Soil Affect Foundations
Expansive clay soil expands when it absorbs moisture and contracts when it dries out. The soil’s volume can change by more than 30% and exert pressures as high as 15,000 pounds per square foot. Because of this soil, and a weather pattern of droughts mixed in with periods of high rainfall, the soil beneath foundations is constantly shifting. This movement is often uneven which stresses and cracks foundations, and the buildings resting on them.
How a Damaged Foundation Affects Your Business
When prospective tenants look over an apartment building with foundation problems, they will see cracks in walls on the exterior of the building and in walls inside an apartment unit. There will be cracks coming from the corners of windows and doors. The doors and windows will not open or close easily because the walls surrounding them are distorted. Gaps between doors and their frames will be noticeably uneven and floors will not be level.
Of course, apartment units in such condition would not be shown to prospective tenants. Because a damaged foundation affects the entire building, there will be many units that are in no condition for rental. Filling in cracks and repairing stuck doors and windows are only temporary fixes because the foundation and the building are in a constant state of movement. Cracks will reopen and windows and doors will stick again. Other problems include a building that is becoming increasingly unsafe with exterior cracks that let in water, rodents, and other pests such as termites.
How Damaged Foundations Are Repaired
At this point you may be thinking that foundation damage from constant soil movement is an intractable problem. After all, the expansive clay soil isn’t going anywhere and Texas will always have droughts. However, the moisture variations affecting the soil near the surface aren’t seen at deeper depths. The deeper you look, the more stable the ground becomes.
Foundation problems can be fixed by anchoring the foundation to these stable, load bearing layers of earth deep below the surface. The anchoring is accomplished with vertical piers. Perma-Pier uses a number of pier types depending on the particular circumstances of the building and its environment.
In addition to piering, it is recommended that the surrounding property have the proper landscaping and drainage in place. This prevents the soil near the foundation from becoming too wet. Perma-Pier has considerable expertise in this area.
Another aspect of foundation damage from expansive clay soil movement is that the problem is ever-present. This means that until the problem is addressed, the damage will worsen over time. Unlike normal soil settlement where the soil compresses and stops moving, expansive clay soil will always shift because its moisture content is always changing due to the changing weather. Therefore, apartment foundation repair work should be done now before further damage increases your repair costs.
Perma-Pier’s commercial foundation repair division works within all segments of the commercial world including apartments, town homes, and condominiums. For more information or inquiries, please contact us at Perma-Pier Foundation Repair.