Program Notes: Foundation Cracking Assessment and Resolution
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Some of the key topics of our discussion with Moises Cruz
Highlights from Our Discussion with Moises Cruz
- A crack in the concrete is not the same as the concrete breaking. A crack does not necessarily mean failure but it does imply that something is moving.
- Structural engineers look at two things:
what might be causing that movement and what other effects the house may be going through because of that movement.
- When the soil fluctuates between being overly wet and overly dry, that causes volume changes in the soil and that's what causes the foundation to move.
- Just because it's a porch and not a house does not mean it should be constructed with any less care than a house.
- As a homeowner you want to be aware of where all the cracks are because those are your indicators.
Those are the red lights that tell you that something is happening and a reason to get a structural assessment to determine why that crack might be there.
- If you decide to enclose an open porch you need to get your local building officials involved to see what their structural requirements area.
- A savvy creative engineer would try to find ways to modify or add to your existing foundation so that you don't have to start over.
Foundations Cracking: More Excerpts with Moises Cruz
Minimize Volume Changes: "A structural engineer who is familiar with your area can help to give advice on minimizing the volume changes in your soil and that is the key
to a successful performing foundation."
Wet Soil: "Conversely in an area that is more wet than dry, for example Seattle, then it might be advisable to keep the area around the house more wet than dry."
Loads: "A structural engineer cares about how much the load is, not whether it's built from concrete or steel - it's about how much needs to be carried."
Mudjacking: "Mud-jacking also can work but it can be more destructive to the concrete because of how it has to be inserted through hoses."
Soil Stabilization Goo:
Although unpredictable, a material referred to as "snake oil" (also referred to as a soil stabilization goo) tricks the soil to think that it is in a swollen state so that the foundation moves.
A Word (or Two) about Press Pile or Push Pile Solutions
This system is relatively inexpensive as compared to other options and possibly the most used
for home foundations; however, it is not without issues. The potential for
future movement is very high meaning that your foundation may eventually move again.
Many structural engineers will tell you that press or push pile solutions may be temporary at best.
Press Piles Installed
Cracked Foundation with Press Piles Installed
Before contemplating using concrete press piles or concrete piers, we recommend
you need to take regarding these foundation stabilization systems.
Moises has several things you should do to protect yourself to ensure you achieve a long lasting
- Call a structural engineer before you call a contractor. Structural engineers are
the only people who have the qualifications for diagnosing and recommending proper repairs for foundations.
They can tell you if your foundation is safe; cracks do not necessarily mean your foundation is failing.
- Check credentials. Not all engineers are structural engineers so be careful when a
contractor says they have a structural engineer on staff.
- Choose the right contractor. Avoid selecting a contractor based on lowest bid; you
almost always get what you pay for.
About A-1 Engineering
was established to not only educate the public and homeowners regarding issues surrounding both residential and commercail foundations, but also to provide customers non-biased and objective consulting
services for their everyday projects.
To that end, A-1 Engineering provides a myriad of reference materials to educate homeowners to enable them
to competently address foundation cracking issues and repair options.
With offices in both San Antonio and Austin, Texas, A-1 Engineering provides direct consulation in those
geographical areas and is most willing to give advice to others outside those areas as well.
We are most appreciative to Moises Cruz for sharing his expertise. What he shared is helpful to us homeowners to better understand the real
meaning behind foundations cracking. For more information, visit their website: A-1 Engineering
or call them at (210) 591-8829.
We hope you will listen as that will allow us to keep bringing you more programs from experts in the porch industry. Thank you!
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