Shifting and Settling – What You Need to Know About Your Foundation

There are many misconceptions when it comes to foundations: why they fail, what can be done to repair them, and how much it costs. Some of these have come into existence purely out of misinformation, others out of horror stories and exaggerated experiences of atypical foundation issues. Here are the top five foundation misconceptions:

What does my soil have to do with it?
Except for cases where a foundation was improperly poured, the wrong concrete mix was used, or it was incorrectly reinforced – the vast majority of what we call “foundation failures” are actually due to the soil underneath the foundation.

There are over 60 different soil types in Texas, each with their own unique properties when it comes to moisture retention, expansion, and plasticity. Having a foundation repair company that knows these soil types is key. Keeping these sometimes unpredictable soils in some state of consistency can be a challenge for residential and commercial property owners alike, which leads us to…

What does water have to do with it?
Now that we’ve ascertained that soil is the culprit in the majority of foundation failures, it is important to identify what makes the soil “fail” underneath your foundation.

The number one culprit in Texas? Moisture – either too much or too little can cause significant changes in the soil underneath your foundation. Too dry and the soil will contract underneath your foundation causing it settle or sink. Too wet and the soil can expand pushing the foundation up, allowing it to “slide,” or causing a plumbing failure which will, in turn, lead to a foundation issue.

To learn more about your foundation’s relationship with water, see How to Maintain a Healthy Foundation.

But… foundations don’t move!
We think of concrete as a solid, immovable mass. Comparatively speaking, it is. Yet the simple fact that your foundation rests atop a constantly, and hopefully minimally, moving bed of soil guarantees that your foundation is, if only microscopically, in a constant state of flux. So keeping a constant moisture level is key, as this keeps the soil itself constant. For ways to regulate your property’s moisture level – from a simple single family home to expansive commercial properties – read more about drainage and landscaping for your property.

Don’t cracks show where the problem is?
If there’s an exterior, visible crack in your foundation, odds are the failure occurred somewhere else, and the crack simply occurred at the weakest point nearest the “fulcrum” of the failure. The soil directly underneath the crack is typically not the culprit, merely the “fulcrum” of the failure. The actual damage likely occurred several feet away where the foundation dipped, causing the deflection and subsequent crack. Cracks can indicate what happened, not necessarily where it happened.

“Bring your wallet! John told me his repair cost…”
This is one of our favorites, because only the scary stories become legend, right? One person’s experience is just that – their experience. With the variations in soil, foundation types, age of property, drainage issues, landscaping layouts, and so on, each foundation issue is a unique one, and the cost varies. It might be less than you think!

Whether you’re a property owner who thinks you might have a foundation problem or a property manager in need of a no charge evaluation of your commercial property’s foundation, contact us today.

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Perma-Pier’s customized approach to repairing your foundation extends to financing as well. We understand that your financial situation – not unlike your foundation – should have a customized solution.

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