Best slab foundation repair


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Old 01-28-14, 11:11 AM
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Best slab foundation repair

We have a 40 year old single level home with a typical S.Texas slab foundation. The soil has a lot of clay. We have noticed that the back corner of the house has dropped about 3/4 of an inch, an 1/8 of an inch crack 6' long in the slab has developed in an adjacent bedroom, a couple of interior walls have developed separation cracks near the bottom of the walls, several doors will not close. Gets worse during hot dry summer months. We have come to the conclusion that something has got to be done. To date we have not had anyone look at it, but learned right off that there are many methods of slab repairs, all are expensive, & are very controversial. All companies claim that theirs is best & none of the others work or will not last. I am in hopes that this forum will shed some none biased opinions on what method works best.
Expert Analysis of Foundation Repair in San Antonio Austin Houston- Licensed Structural Engineers Texas - A-1 Engineering Structural Engineers AUSTIN & SAN ANTONIO TX

Thanks,
Roger
 
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Old 01-28-14, 03:35 PM
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I don't know much about construction in Tx although I've heard about houses shifting there. Reading that article, I would want a steel & concrete fix as opposed to concrete alone.
 
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Old 01-28-14, 04:28 PM
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' expensive ' is subjective & invites comparison - eg, what's your home worth as is w/troubles ? google ' helical piles ',,, used ramjack in ny, nj, ct, de, pa, & now in ga - never any trouble - good luck !
 
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Old 01-28-14, 04:43 PM
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Texas soil is different than those other states. The results may not be the same.
 
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Old 01-28-14, 05:00 PM
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Selecting a contractor & type of slab repair may turn out to be a "crap shoot". Sinking 20 to 30k into a repair & finding out 2 years later, that you wasted your money is not a good feeling...the cracks are back, doors won't shut & your wife says she feels like she is walking down hill. I'm looking for all the input I can get.
Thanks,
Roger
 
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Old 01-28-14, 05:37 PM
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Try to find local people who have had the same problem & if their solutions worked or not.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 12:10 AM
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If you haven't already done so, make serious efforts to keep water (both natural runoff and "artificial" irrigation) away from the foundation slab. Doing so will minimize the repeated swelling and shrinking of your foundation's subsoil.

For the life of me, I don't understand why Texans don't use footings/stemwalls/crawl space construction. I've designed a few residential foundations built in the adobe clay of SW Colorado, and they perform very well--requires thicker footings and more rebar, along with a cushion of compressible foam between the subsoil and the footings. Sure, the initial costs would be more, but bottom-line ongoing maintenance costs would level that playing field in a hurry.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 11:17 AM
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During the dry hot summer months, the "experts" down here suggest putting soaker hoses next to the slab foundation & thoroughly soaking the soil at lest twice a week. Isn't this just the opposite of what a home owner should be doing ?
I would have to say that "money" is the primary reason why builders in Texas use slab foundations...I would have to guess that 90% of them will require leveling or repair in the future. I have no idea how they get away with it.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 11:40 AM
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I guess keeping the subsoil in a constant, saturated state would possibly avoid shrinkage beneath slabs, and that would be good. When large voids are present, slabs tend to settle differentially and then crack and destroy themselves (even post-tensioned slabs commonly used in Texas). However, my preference is to keep water away from the get-go, never allowing subsoil to expand and raise the foundation/house in the first place.

Maybe money is also the reason the Texas "experts" are recommending the soaker hose treatments. Lots of damaged slabs means lots of work repairing them.
 
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Old 01-31-14, 07:07 AM
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maintaining soil moisture at a constant rate is better than not doing anything expansive soil likes it,,, you control the amt of water - bridge's right - keep excess water away if possible
 
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Old 01-31-14, 11:41 AM
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I have no problem with standing water after a good rain, but maybe I should consider installing gutters. They are expensive to install & a pain to maintain...is there any "rule of thumb" that would suggest this may be my problem. I realize they can't hurt.
 
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Old 02-01-14, 08:48 AM
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I'm in south Louisiana and had a similar situation about 10 years ago. I was going through contractors trying to decide who was best, similar to what you're doing and one came by and insisted he wouldn't do anything without me clearly telling him what it needed. He said he would get a recommendation from a structural engineer. That's the best FREE advice I've ever gotten.

I got it inspected by a licensed structural engineer. He is an MIT graduate and charged $350. He said it was structurally sound and I had a choice. I could spend $30K on foundation repairs and it would never move again or I could spend $400 every 5 -10 years to repair doors and walls.

My advice is to get it inspected by a structural engineer who's not trying to sell you something.
 
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Old 02-01-14, 10:01 AM
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Hey Jim...What did you do ? I am in that situation at the moment. I could spend 350.00 & have an engineer tell me that I needed 5 piers, etc, etc. A reputable contractor says "nope.. you need 8 piers, or I can't guarantee anything", or in 5 years , I have the same old problem & the contractor has gone out of business, or says " you need to read the fine print in the contract"...you know what I am getting at. It's a tough call when a lot of money is involved. I really can't see a lot of change in our house or foundation since the bad drought we had 3 years ago. I am considering just patching the cracks, adjusting the doors, & fixing the foundation crack with something from H.D & let it go at that. Comments ??
Thanks,
Roger
 
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Old 02-01-14, 10:40 AM
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Hey Roger,
I repaired the walls & doors. I wound up selling the house 5 years later and when the buyers home inspector saw the inspection report from the engineer he said he would "yield" to that opinion.

After I thought it through, the only person who didn't have a vested interest in how much money I spent was the engineer because he had already gotten his. Could he have been wrong? Yes, but in my mind he was better trained and more qualified than the guys who were telling me to give them $30K. One of the contractors pointed out that the floor was 2 inches lower in one room than another. The engineer asked me how I knew they were ever level. He said in houses that age (45 Yrs.) uneven floors were common at construction.

At the end of the day this is just my 2 cents but I'd get a qualified independent opinion and go with it.

Jim
 
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Old 02-01-14, 10:56 AM
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Jim...It sounds like you made a wise decision. I just got out my level & doubt if my back bedroom has even a 1/2 drop. All the sliding windows work fine. The one thing that I don't understand is why some of the inside walls cracked (picture, ignore the cobwebs) 3 to 4 ft up from the floor & stopped there. They don't seem to be getting any worse & this only happened to the inside walls. I"m sure there is an explanation. When you sold your house, did you adjust the selling price because of the foundation?
Thanks again,
Roger
 
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Old 02-01-14, 11:17 AM
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Hey Roger,

The questions about cracks in your walls are exactly what you should be asking your engineer, and I specify engineer because you don't want just any house inspector, you want a structural engineer.

When I sold my house we priced it a little above the going rate in the neighborhood, but it did have fresh paint We gave the buyers $500 off to repair a number of little things their inspector found wrong but it didn't include the slab.

Jim
 
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Old 02-01-14, 01:47 PM
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As a licensed and practicing civil engineer going on 44 years, and having worked with (and sometimes against) many engineers during that time, some things come to mind regarding the competency of engineers and decisions they make based on their evaluations. It's extremely rare for two different engineers to exactly agree on both the causes and solutions for correcting a structure's deficiencies. None of us is perfect, either, so an occasional mistake is also possible. That's why there's a lucrative market for E & O (errors and omissions) insurance, which practicing engineers are required to carry when performing major (large government) contract work for clients. The premiums for a small, independent practicing (sole proprietor) engineer were slightly more than $5000 a year when I was last in active practice several years ago--something to keep in mind when you think your engineer's fees are too high for the "small job" he/she is performing for you. It's rare for home inspectors to be licensed engineers, although the skills and experience required for both professions often overlap. The difference between average and good home inspectors is that the latter know when an engineer's services should be brought into the equation.

If anyone chooses to use the services of an engineer who is not licensed to practice engineering by the state he lives in, there's a very good chance that the advice he gives may not be reliable. Also, practicing engineering without a license is not only illegal, but is also subject to significant fines in all 50 states.
 

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Old 02-01-14, 05:00 PM
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BridgeMan45...Thanks for your input from the engineers point of view. What do you do if your engineer provides his input for the foundation repair, but contractors have different ideas..& are probably more expensive ? I just read an article about contacting a soil stabilization company, rather then an engineer for foundation problems. What a bucket of worms this whole thing is. There isn't a clear cut answer & it sounds like an expensive crap shoot. It kinda makes you feel like living with it....if you can ?
Thanks all,
Roger
 
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Old 02-02-14, 12:26 AM
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It only can become a "bucket of worms" if you allow that to happen. Your job is to sift through all of the information and resources at your disposal, sort through the ones obviously not competent, lacking in detail, or obviously biased, and then go from there. Foundation repair contractors are all in the business to make money, so they will usually tell you their system is best and that your engineer doesn't know what he is talking about. I would always be more inclined to trust someone who doesn't have any dogs in the race, rather than those who will be (often, very lucratively) rewarded if their advice is followed and their services used. A competent, licensed professional engineer should be able to tell you what he thinks your situation includes and what causes it, along with providing realistic suggestions for making corrections. When I was actively performing home inspections and structural evaluations, I always made a point in my reports of giving a range of options based on cost vs. expected benefits. No need to spend thousands if you can achieve satisfactory results by spending far less, in my professional opinion.

A realistic approach to correcting simple foundation cracks is to invest in the best commercially-available epoxy injection system you can afford (using a low-modulus, moisture-insensitive product, available at masonry supply outlets), and proceed to perform the repairs yourself. For situations where additional foundation piers are needed, installation of same should be relatively simple to accomplish for a competent DIYer.
 
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Old 02-04-14, 07:58 PM
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How naive I was ! When we first noticed signs of possible foundation problems, etc. My first thought was, all I had to do was call a foundation contractor & have it fixed, once & for all. I had heard that these kind of repairs were not cheap, so i was anticipating spending some bucks. After doing a lot of research, I now realize that this is not black & white. I think I shall go with that suggested engineer, so that I will know exactly where I stand. Probably a very good 1st step....
 
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Old 02-17-14, 08:50 AM
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When not if you go to an engineer get references on other similar projects. Having worked for years as a construction inspector for commercial projects, I have seen good and bad engineers when trying to follow their designs. A few use "cookie cutter" designs and think they will work everywhere. I have found that they don't. Once you find an engineer have him explain what happened to cause the problem. I could be poor quality concrete, settlement due to uncompacted soils, or design failures. Also ask for a qualified contractor and get a guarantee . You may have to pay more but the repairs should be done correctly the first time.
 
 

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