When your Richmond, Virginia, home starts showing signs of foundation problems, you don’t want quick fixes that don’t last. You want the peace of mind that comes with a foundation repair solution that will permanently provide the strength and stability that your home needs.
At Reliable Waterproofing and Masonry, that is what we believe in as well. Use the best materials, fix it right the first time and get you back to enjoying your home free of the worries that foundation problems can bring.
Foundation Problems in Richmond and How We Fix Them
The Foundation Repair Problem: Settlement
Your home or business is many things to you. To the ground beneath it, however, it is primarily one thing: heavy.
Because of the building’s weight, it is only natural that a small amount of settlement will inevitably occur. And if it is just a small amount, and it settles evenly, it is unlikely to be a problem. Unfortunately, many buildings will sink beyond the point of harmless settlement.
And that is where the problems start.
Several factors could cause this harmful settlement. Among them are:
- Poorly compacted soil
- Soil with significant shrink/swell cycles
Once it crosses the threshold into harmful, your foundation will need to be stabilized and repaired to avoid significant structural problems. Foundations don’t tend to naturally fix themselves, especially given the weight of what they are supporting.
The Solution: Foundation Repair through Underpinning
The problem with settlement is that the soil beneath your home or business can no longer adequately or consistently support its weight. The solution is to provide the building with a stable system that is strong enough to support it.
The best way to do that in Richmond is through an underpinning system using steel piers. The piers are either sunk, in the case of push piers, or screwed, in the case of helical piers into the ground until they reach either bedrock or a layer of soil that is strong enough to support the weight of the building without settling.
Push piers are long, steel rods designed to be sunk to bedrock or a sufficiently hard layer of soil. The steel is strong enough to withstand the compression forces of the building.
Helical piers resemble push piers with one main difference, they include one to four helical plates that give them the appearance of a giant screw. The plates assist in providing support for the pier, allowing it to often find a sufficiently solid layer of soil at a shallower depth than push piers. They are ideal for places where the bedrock might be deep below the soil.
In either case, they are permanent solutions. The steel will not break down or weaken within a couple of years, and unlike some foundation repair systems, they are installed deep enough where they aren’t going to just start settling with the rest of the house.
How We Install Foundation Underpinning Systems
We start by digging small excavations at each point where we will install a pier. These holes, which allow us needed access to the footing, are smaller than those needed for other types of foundation repair.
We then install the piers to the depth needed to support the weight of the building. With helical piers, this can be accurately measured by tracking the torque readings during installation.
Then piers are then load tested to ensure that they are strong enough to support the weight of the building without further settlement. We don’t guess when it comes to foundation repair. We make sure that the piers can support the building with a margin of safety tacked on.
After the piers are in place, we attach brackets to the building’s footing to connect to the piers. We then hydraulically lift the building to ensure it is level and as close to its original position as possible. Once that is achieved, we transfer the load of the building to the piers
We then fill in the excavations and clean the site.
The piers are installed with minimal vibrations, each excavation is rather small and there is no waiting for anything to cure or worry that weather will impact the final result.
The Foundation Repair Problem: Bowing Basement Walls
As you know, Richmond is, in general, no stranger to rain. Virginia as a whole is consistently above average when it comes to precipitation. And that water, especially when it is not properly directed away from the foundation, can increase the pressure pushing in on your basement walls.
If you add enough pressure the walls will begin to crack and bow inward. This poses major structural problems and if it is not repaired in time could end in needing to replace portions of the wall itself.
The worse the problem gets the more difficult, and expensive, it will be to fix. That is why you should contact a foundation repair professional immediately if you notice horizontal cracking in a basement or foundation wall, especially if it is accompanied by bowing.
The Solution: Helical Tiebacks or Plate Anchors
Since the problem is the pressure pushing against the walls, we must provide something to counteract that force. We use helical tiebacks or plate anchors.
While the differences in their anchoring and installation help determine which is the best tool for each job, plate anchors and helical tiebacks work on the same principal. They use a pier with either a flat plate or helical plates like a helical pier to anchor the wall in the soil outside.
That anchoring helps stabilize the wall and stop the problem from getting worse.
The same concept can stabilize retaining walls that are beginning to bow and buckle.
How You Know Your Richmond Home Needs Foundation Repair
Your home’s foundation is the base that must support the rest of the structure. That means when it begins to fail, you will see the effects far beyond the foundation itself. From the basement floor to the top of the ceiling, plenty of warning signs exist.
Among the signs your foundation might be failing:
- Slab floor cracks
- Wall cracks, especially horizontal or diagonal cracks
- Cracks that are expanding
- Foundation cracks
- Sticking doors and windows
- Tilting chimneys
- Stairstep cracks in masonry
If you see any of these issues with your Richmond home or business, contact us to assess whether your foundation is damaged and what the best course of action is.