Over the course of time, a home’s foundation may become unstable. Things like cracks appearing on floors and doors suddenly not closing correctly are signs that the underpinning might be shifting or sinking. This is not a problem for many houses, but others may need to be leveled and repaired. If you have noticed these changes in your house, you may want to have your structure examined. Here is a list of relevant key terms for this situation.
Settling – This is the process that almost all structures go through after they are built. Depending on the environment and geographical location, this can happen rapidly. Early signs are fissures in the walls, sagging floor joists and new leaks in the basement area. The seepage is an indication that the waterproof seals that were designed into the structure have been compromised.
Shoring – This is the process of supporting the lower beams of the structure. This is accomplished by digging a hole that is two feet deep below the new support locations. These holes are then filled with materials to support the weight of the building.
Leveling – This is essentially the processes of restoring the foundation of your structure to the position it was in when if was first constructed.
Push Pier – This system gives you the ability to actually lift the underpinning back to its original position. These mechanisms are driven into the ground hydraulically. This allows materials that can support the building, like concrete piles, to be placed under the structure.
Catch Basin – This is a hole that is dug a distance from the structure. It is filled with porous material and works as a French drain to pull water away from the building. This reduces the need for heavy waterproofing and repairs.
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Houses are made waterproof, straight, and level during construction, but over time that can change. Foundations will settle and eventually become unlevel. This can happen to all buildings on a foundation, include mobile homes. The most common reason houses need leveling is incorrectly backfilled soil. When too much space is dug out for a basement, the excess must be refilled with soil. Even if your house is waterproof, poor drainage can lead to issues. These include leaks and the house actually being lifted by the mud. Sagging floor joists can also lead to sloping.
How can you know if your foundation is sinking? Listen for the telltale creaking that occurs as floorboards begin to sag. Another sign to look for is cracks in the plaster, cinder blocks, or concrete slab. Since cracks can be caused by other things such as the changing of the seasons, this is not a dependable sign. Keep in mind that the cracks caused by settling will appear suddenly and more than one at a time. Other indicators to keep an eye out for are burst pipes and difficulty opening windows or doors.
If your house is in need of repair, consider your options carefully. This procedure may require the expertise of an architect or engineer. A hydraulic jack is used during house leveling. This power tool raises homes so the necessary equipment can be placed underneath. One choice you have is investing in foundation underpinning. There are multiple types of underpinning: beam and base, mini-piled, and mass concrete. Pier and beam foundations require other techniques, depending on the underlying cause. The cost of repair and how much the fix will cost is determined by the extent of damage. To avoid house leveling issues, thoroughly evaluate a home’s foundation before purchasing it.