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Houston “Flash Drought” Reveals Foundation Repair Need

Houston TX street floodingFrom Flood To “Flash Drought”
Houston experienced record amounts of rainfall this Spring which created all kinds of problems for homeowners. Just ask those folks living without flooring and drywall since the Memorial Day storm and its flooding.

Since then temperatures have spiked into the 100’s and rainfall has been sparse or non-existent. Enter the flash drought. The opposite of a flood and less well known, a flash drought may prove just as damaging to Houston homeowners and reveal the urgent need for foundation repair. This quickly expanding drought comes only two months after Texas had its rainiest month ever recorded, with devastating floods that killed dozens.

Springs’s wet soil conditions caused our clay soil to swell like dough rising in an oven, flexing concrete slabs upward. Flash forward just a few weeks and quite the opposite condition exists. Soil that once rose like dough now shrinks like a dry sponge, becomes riddled with air cracks, and gives less support.

Unsupported foundations flex downward and stresses increase, cracking slabs and revealing foundation damage that was previously masked by our rain-swollen soil.

US Drought Monitor Map 30 June 2015US Drought Monitor map 11 August 2015As our foundations flex up and down existing cracks begin to propagate and become hinge points for exessive and progressive settling. This up and down movement and progressive settlement begins to tear drywall, crack tile and brick, move doors out of square and can get severe enough to begin negatively impacting frame, roofing and plumbing systems. (Maps courtesy of US Drought Monitor)

Just a few weeks of flash drought conditions can do enough damage to keep a foundation repair company busy for months. And cost homeowners thousands.

Worrying Symptoms
Brown, crunchy lawns criss-crossed with air cracks, soil pulling away from foundations – these are strong signs that your foundation is highly stressed. Everyday now I see new cracks in brickwork, gaping expansion joints, and windows and garage door frames separating from their structures. These are often associated with visible landscape distress from lack of moisture.

If your grass is brown and the ground around your home is cracked,
foundation damage is not far behind. – Brandon Hoge

Advice
Proper maintainence such as consistent foundation watering and care of trees and shrubs can reduce the risk, although imposed water restrictions may make such action difficult. The best advice to homeowners is to maintain moisture consistency around your home. Use a soaking system as recommended by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, and heed warning signs of a possible foundation problem.

Act quickly to stop the progression of this problem!
You can save yourself thousands of dollars in the long run.

Schedule a foundation evaluation and
Get a free foundation watering plan

CALL US NOW – 832-230-5490

Houston Foundation Repair for Savvy Realtors and Homeowners

Structured Foundation Repairs Houston Serves Savvy Realtors and Homeowners!

Our whole process is designed for the quick response you need as a realtor, and, to provide you all the documents lenders need to close your sale.

Other Houston foundation repair companies may quote realtors 2 or 3 weeks to evaluate a home.
They are telling you “No Thanks realtors, we’d rather work directly with homeowners, so we’ll just delay until you go away.”

Structured is different – we LIKE realtors!

And we’ll complete your foundation evaluation quickly.

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5 Questions You Must Ask About Foundation Repair

Your realtor, your electrician, your plumber, even your hair stylist 
must meet educational requirements and be strictly tested before being issued a required license to practice their trade.

Not So For Foundation Repair

Foundation repair is an unregulated industry in the State of Texas.

  • No licensing procedure for a foundation repair contractor.
  • No educational requirements for foundation repair personnel.
  • No warranty of work is required.
  • No requirement for liability insurance or dishonesty bonds.

Nothing prevents any individual printing up a business card, hiring a group of inexperienced day-laborers, and then beavering away on your most valuable possession – your home.

For Foundation Repair In Texas, You Are On Your Own!

Protect Yourself!  Become An Informed Consumer – Ask These Questions Continue reading

Foundation Repair: Savvy Realtors Avoid 3 Closing Pitfalls

Proactive, savvy realtors who know how to handle foundation repair issues gain the trust of buyers and sellers alike. And they will close more sales.

Foundation repair is a common closing issue in Houston due to expanding clay soil near the surface. Become successful as an agent and you will encounter transactions that hinge on foundation repair issues.

During a property sale, it is important for the buyer and seller to determine what will be done with any foundation repairs before closing. Here are three (3) foundation issues that realtors should avoid or have the expertise to handle:

  • 1. Buyers thought sellers would complete repairs before closing
  • 2. Certified Professional engineer did not certify the repair plans, nor the as-built work
  • 3. Contractor did not acquire the proper permit

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Houston Foundation Repair: Concrete Slab Foundations

Pier and Beam Foundation RepairConcrete pressed pilings are one of the most used techniques for foundation repair in Houston, Texas. The steel-threaded concrete piling and its installation method was specifically designed for the clay soils found here and in various areas throughout Texas. Take a look below to find out more.

How Long Would It Take To Repair?
The average concrete slab foundation repair in Houston can be finished in one to two work-days. The installation is quick and efficient. This also helps to give any plants that have been removed a good chance of survival.

How Do You Install The Piers?

We will start by digging a hole with a shovel. This is normally around two-foot in size and it will be four to five feet below ground level. This hole will also extend under the beam of the home so it can be lifted with safety in mind.

We will then take a concrete cylinder that is 6 x 12 inches. This will have a ¾ inch hole and it will be placed directly underneath the grade beam. After this has been done, we will then take a hydraulic ram, establishing it between the cylinder and the initial beam.

Once the ram has been engaged, the concrete will be pushed into the ground. Every cylinder that we use will also be connected with a steel rebar but eventually they will be pushed until they can’t go down anymore. This is because it would take more force to push the piling than it would to lift the entire house, and when we are at this stage, we can then begin to install the required pilings.

Capped With Concrete
Of course, every piling that is installed has a concrete cap. After this stage has been completed, we will then lift the house by using a bottle jack. We will always make sure that the house is lifted to its original position, and this is done to try and stop any irreparable damage to the home or the structure.

Two cylinders are then set on the cap and steel shims are used to fill the gaps between the piling and the beam. Any holes that are present are then filled to ensure a top result every single time.

Before and After Houston Foundation Repair

Do You Offer A Warranty?
We offer a transfereable Lifetime Warranty on all pilings that we install. We want to make sure that your home is permanently stabilized on the foundation and we pride ourselves on the quality service that we offer to our customers. (Within a ¼ inch over a 5-foot horizontal span)

Steel Pressed Pilings

Concrete Slab Foundation Repair Ram EngagedHouston Foundation Repair with Steel Pressed Pilings
Steel Pressed Pilings
Steel pilings can be used in place of concrete pressed pilings and in some instances they may even offer a better solution. This is especially the case where the soil is notably sandy or where there are harder sections of strata between the layers of clay. If concrete piling is used in this instance then they may cause what is called a “false refusal point”. Steel on the other hand can penetrate through this without any notable difficulty.

How Long Will It Take To Make The Repair with Steel Pilings?

The same concept applies with concrete pilings; the average foundation repair can be done in one or two work-days.

How Do You Install The Pilings?
The installation process is exactly the same as the concrete piling installation, but instead of using a concrete cylinder, we will press one foot sections of steel pipe. These steel pipe sections are double walled for extra stability.

Warranty
We offer a Transferable Lifetime Warranty to every single person who hires our pressed steel piling services and we aim to stabilize every portion of the foundation where piers may be installed.

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Concrete Slab Foundation Repair Terms

Builders Piers

Piers are normally poured before you lay the foundation. They are spaced around 4 feet apart and they are very shallow when compared to other structures. The piers are made to help hold the beam into place but due to low placement, it’s not uncommon for them to fail in this. For this reason, you may need to put more pressed pilings in place to stop any unwanted movement from occurring. In some instances the piers may be attached onto the foundation, and if this is the case then they might need to be removed.

Drilled Piers
Drilled piers have a concrete section that is put into place. This can be done in Situ or a steel casing, and you may have either a straight shaft or a bell bottom

Footing
A footing is the support base that is usually done for a wall. It can also be a reference to a shallow pier.

Differential Settlement
This term is used to describe a problem where one part of the building has moved at a different level when compared to the other foundation or walls.

Interior Pier
This is when the foundation might have settled more than usual and the elevation in the property needs to be raised in order to install the piers. The piers are normally placed underneath an interior beam however this depends on the original condition. They can be placed in a steel angle iron under the slab and once this has been done, you can replace the floor that covers this with ease.

Mudjacking
Mudjacking is where you pump water, cement and dirt under the concrete slabs to fill in the gap as a result of the lift. The mixture is often referred to as being a slurry and the exact ingredients used can vary depending on the company and the job. You may also call it pressure grouting, but it is important to make sure the plumbing has been fully tested before you mudjack anything or else the slurry may go into the plumbing.

Concrete Piling
The piling method is when you use concrete cylinders to push into the soil. Eventually the piles get to a point when they can’t be pushed down any more, so they lift the building enough for us to get the hydraulic jack underneath instead.

Post Tension Slab
Post tension constructions help to create a grid of cables and these help to support the slabs.  Unlike inactive rebar constructions, this method also helps cover the cables, ensuring that they are protected from any corrosion.

Spread Footing
A wide and shallow footing is made up from reinforced concrete. They have a very high rate of failure as a piering system because of how shallow they are.

Steel Pilings
This pressed method uses a variety of interlocking parts that are pushed into the soil. They will then get to a point when they cannot be driven any more, and this is called a refusal point. Once this has been done, the next step can then commence.

Upheaval
This is when the foundation is moved upwards because the clay soils have swelled up so much because of the moisture content. This can then lead to plumbing leaks and poor drainage. Upward movement after this point can distort the foundation and create various cracks in the finishes, which is something that you want to avoid at all costs.

 

Foundation Drainage Solutions Save Foundation Repair

Why Would I Need A Foundation Drainage Solution?

Every home needs the right amount of foundation drainage. If you don’t have the right amount of drainage then you run the risk of needing a repair at a later date, something that you want to avoid at all costs. If your home does have poor drainage or if it collects within 4 feet of the foundation after heavy rain then you likely need a foundation drainage solution to relieve stress on the foundation of your  home.

Surface Drainage
Surface drainage solutions normally consist of 9″ by 9″- or 12″ by 12″ drains. A flexible PVC pipe is then added to channel the water away from the home. It should be noted that if there is not enough natural grade to drain the water away, you may need to invest in a pump and sump system.

Do I Need a French Drain?
A French drain is used to stop water from seeping into the foundation of your home. If water does seep under your home, it can move the foundation and this can cause a world of problems at a later date.

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Foundation Drainage Terms

Collection Boxes
These boxes are normally 12″ x 12″ and they are set into the ground. The top is just below ground level and this is where the water enters. It is collected in the box, where it s then moved away from the home.

Combo Drain
This is a French drain and a surface drain that are used together to remove excessive water.

Discharge
The water that is disposed by the drain

French Drain
A trench that is covered with gravel – the gravel redirects the water away from the area and into a pipe at the bottom. French drains are incredibly common and they can be used to relieve hydrostatic pressure from retaining walls as well.

Grade
A grade refers to the inclination of the ground from a horizontal perspective. If you have a negative grade, the slope is towards the foundation. If you have a positive grade, then it is sloping away.

Pop Up Valve
This is a drainage point where water can be allowed to flow from the pipe and away from the foundation. It consists of a spring loaded cap and it opens and shuts according to the flow of the water.

Retaining Wall
This wall is designed to hold in soil. It is normally present in home constructions that require levelling on the construction site. Without a retaining wall, the foundation could be compromised by slumping or soil erosion.

Root Barrier
This process involves cutting the roots of trees that are present near a foundation. A barrier is then installed to stop them from growing underneath.

Sump Pump
This is a pump that is normally used to remove water that has accumulated under or around the foundation. Water is passed through the sump and then the pump is used to move the water away from the site.

Surface Drain
A surface drain consists of several collection boxes and a pipe. They are designed to collect and move water that collects on the surface of the foundation.

Swale

Swales also play a part in residential rainwater. They direct the water from downspouts to a street storm drain. They are very similar to agricultural ditches and they are very efficient when it comes to controlling the water flow. They also help to carry any pollutants from the roof, garden and lawn, so there are many benefits to getting one for your own home.

Pier and Beam Foundation Repair Houston

Many older homes in Houston, indeed some elegant newer homes, have a pier and beam foundation needing repair.

Pier and beam foundations near Houston are constructed in two basic forms. The difference between the two is quite important when considering foundation repair.

Floors of a pier-and-beam-supported home rest on horizontal wooden timbers (the “beams”) often 6 inches square or larger. These floor-support timbers are raised off the ground by vertical elements called “piers”. These are usually made of poured concrete or steel-reinforced concrete blocks. Many older homes in Houston used squared-off sections of rot-resistant Bois d’Arc tree stumps as foundation piers.

Important Differences In Pier and Beam Foundation Repair
vertical concrete pier, and grade beam in a crawl space.

Vertical concrete pier and horizontal wooden beam supporting floor joists in a Houston crawl space. Perimeter grade beam in background.

Distinguishing the two basic types of foundation construction is easy. Ask the question “what do the vertical piers sit on?”

Modern foundation construction uses a cast concrete “perimeter” or “grade beam” at the soil level. This surrounds your home providing a much larger bearing surface than the individual piers could provide. Most important, it ties together the vertical elements with a single horizontal unit.

Simply put, foundations with a perimeter grade beam can be lifted, leveled, stabilized with pilings, and warranted. Those without, cannot.

Adjustment of Floor Levels

An adjustment of the height of the floor is possible and can be done by raising the Continue reading