Central Texas Foundation Problems
Slab foundations are known for having significant problems in Texas and specifically in our Greater Austin area. Due to the expansive nature of our clay based soils, the foundation under your home is likely to move and shift with the changes in the weather. In times of drought (or what we call a normal Summer), the soil will shrink and crack causing it to no longer hold the concrete footings of your slab at the same level. During rainy times, the soil will expand which may provide some relief to any wall cracks or unlevelness that have appeared. This relief is generally only temporary as the home will go back down with the next dry spell. Some home's may even heave up from too much rain as the soil becomes saturated and pushes up. Over time, this cycle of expanding and contracting can take quite a toll on your home's walls, framing, and plumbing system. It was once told to me that a home's foundation is like a boat on a slow moving ocean. I think that explanation provides a pretty good image of what takes place with our Austin homes on unstable soil.
What are the signs of a potential foundation problem?
Cracks in Drywall and Brick/Stone
Doors that stick or won't close
What causes foundation issues?
How can I stop it from getting worse?
The first item to take care of is any site drainage problems. Any negative yard slopes towards the home should be corrected so that all rain water flows away from the slab. Gutters can help with water off of the roof but downspouts must terminate away from the foundation. All air conditioner drain lines should also be directed to an area where they won't saturate the soil next to the foundation.
Make sure you have all plumbing leaks identified and repaired as soon as possible.
Some experts recommend keeping even moisture around the perimeter of the slab by using a sprinkler system or soaker hoses.
There are several repair methods available. The most common method involves installing piers underneath the foundation. There are different types of pier options, such as: Drilled, pressed concrete or steel, etc. The different piering methods will also range significantly in cost and how long they last. Stabilization through soil injection is another option.
How can you monitor a foundation problem to see if it is getting better, worse, or staying the same?
The best way to do that is by having a baseline or benchmark elevation drawing made. It starts by having a professional like me come to the home using precise equipment to take readings. These readings are then plotted on a drawing of your house. In subsequent years, or when you have concerns, I can then come back and take new readings to see how stable the home's foundation is.