Concrete Foundation Repair

The vast majority of commercial and residential foundations built in the past sixty years have been poured concrete. And unfortunately, many property owners will need Concrete Foundation Repair services to stabilize their building structures. This is particularly true in the southern part of the United States where the actual problem is not the concrete foundation, but the expansive soil underneath.

What is concrete and why is it used for foundation construction? There are many variations of concrete that have been developed for specific purposes. However, the basic formula of concrete is a mixture of cement, water, sand, and aggregate such as small stone, gravel, or crushed rock. When the water and cement combine a chemical reaction occurs and the mixture will harden into a stone-like material. Concrete is the most widely used building material in the world because of its strength, durability, longevity, and cost effectiveness. However, it can be damaged by fire, bacterial corrosion, chemicals, and movement. Movement of soils underneath foundations will often lead to Concrete Foundation Repair.

Unfortunately building codes do not protect homeowners from the expense and headache of Concrete Foundation Repair. All too often, builders will build to the minimum specifications without regard to the geology or soil conditions. In areas of expansive soils, this almost guarantees that homeowners and building owners will have foundation problems sometime in the future. And foundation problems are not immediately obvious. It may take years of increasing movement and settlement before warning signs are obvious. One tip is to stand in the street outside a home or building and look at the roof line. If it has a dip then it is probably the result of a foundation problem.

Are Concrete Foundation Repairs covered by insurance? The quick answer is “NO.” Virtually all insurance companies exclude coverage for damage done by foundation settlement or movement. They exclude it because they know how poorly builders have built foundations in areas of expansive soils. They know that the concrete foundations should have been built “bigger and better” to withstand the forces of movement and settlement. They are not going to pay the homeowner or building owner for damage and repairs that are easily predictable. However, in some cases a homeowner’s insurance policy might cover damage due to a sudden and accidental discharge of water from a breech in the plumbing system. The only way to know is to read the insurance policy carefully.

The construction of a concrete slab has a number of steps that must be performed correctly to avoid some of the root causes for Concrete Foundation Repair in the future. One of the most critical steps is to properly compact the soil that the foundation will rest on. If this is not properly done then the soil will settle with time and moisture and there will be voids underneath the foundation. Large voids could be a critical problem because the purpose of the concrete foundation is to transfer the weight of the building structure to the ground. If the foundation is not touching the ground then it could be subject to failure. Another step is the proper water-to-cement ratio in the concrete mix. Any deviation from the correct ratio will result in substandard concrete strength. Control joints must be placed in the necessary locations and the concrete must be allowed sufficient time to cure. If all of these steps are done properly, and they usually are, then the concrete foundation will meet its specifications. However, in areas of soil expansion, the specifications for the concrete foundation may not be sufficient to withstand the forces of movement and settlement.

Martin Dawson is the co-founder of Dawson Foundation Repair headquartered in Houston, Texas. He is a leading authority on repairing failed commercial and home foundations using the time tested and thoroughly researched drilled Bell Bottom Pier method. His company has serviced Texas and other southern states since 1984.

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