Solving Structural Problems Due To Foundation Sinking, Settlement & Mine Subsidence
Your home is showing signs of damage related to foundation settlement.
- Stair-Step Cracks In Brick Or Concrete Block Foundation Walls
- Leaning, Tilting Chimneys
- Cracks Around Doors & Windows
- Jamming, Sticking Doors & Windows
- Cracks In A Concrete Slab Floor
- Cracks In Drywall
How to Fix It:
We fix foundation settlement issues by installing steel foundation piers. These piers will extend beneath the foundation, contacting strong supporting soils that will permanently stabilize your structure.
At Baker’s Waterproofing, we solve foundation settlement issues of all kinds including mine subsidence! Call us for a free foundation settlement repair quote today!
We serve Clarksburg, Morgantown, Pittsburgh, and many nearby areas in Western PA and Northern West Virginia.
Identifying Foundation Settlement Issues
Signs of a settling foundation can be very subtle at first — many homeowners can go months or even years before noticing a crack in their foundation. The long-term damage from foundation settlement, however, is ongoing and will lead to more severe foundation problems.
Signs Of Foundation Settlement
As a foundation settles, many telltale signs will become evident. What follows are some of the most common ways that foundation settlement can become visible to the homeowner.
Decades ago, coal-miners throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia created below-grade “rooms,” leaving pillars of coal throughout to support the roofs. Decades later, when the roof of a subsurface mine collapses, it causes the ground above to sink, and foundations built on this surface to settle.
Houses built over subsurface mines are susceptible to devastating damage due to structural settlement. We’ve seen mine subsidence in the form of cracked foundations, cracked sidewalks, and concrete slabs, buckling driveways and sinking floors.
Often, a home will not show any signs of an issue, and there is no way to know if or when mine subsidence will occur.
How to Fix it:
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia have policies and procedures to manage subsidence. Each state provides damage insurance from a central supplier with coverage up to $200,000.
Local municipal offices and state and federal government agencies can provide you with more mining information.
Stair-step cracking is one of the surest signs of foundation settlement and is very common in brick in concrete block walls.
As the settlement continues, vertical cracks may widen or become uneven as wall sections tilt away from each other, indicating more severe displacement.
Keep an eye out for cracks that are wider at the top than at the bottom, as this is a sign of advancing settlement.
Tilting chimneys that are separating from the home are one of the most intimidating and dramatic signs of a settling foundation.
Sometimes a chimney is built on a footing that is not connected to the house foundation. The enormous weight of a chimney can make it even more at risk of settlement.
Damaged Doors & Windows
An opening cut in any wall is a weak point, so signs of foundation settlement often show up around door and window openings.
Doors and windows frames may be cracked out of square. Cracks may extend from the corners above doors and windows. Doors may separate from the framing or exterior finish. Other signs of foundation settlement include sticking or jamming doors and windows, and locks that stop working.
Slab Floor Cracking
Cracks in your concrete floor slab can be a sign of foundation settlement, but they may also be a sign that the slab floor alone has settled.
There are times when your slab floor may sink or lift independently of the foundation walls, damaging the floors but not necessarily the foundation walls themselves.
Cracks in drywall throughout the house are reliable indicators of foundation settlement. Cracks will often be larger and more obvious in the home’s upper levels.
Typical drywall cracks during foundation settlement are commonly located at the corners of doors and windows and along drywall seams. Drywall tape can also be a good indicator, especially if it’s ripping or coming loose. Drywall cracks can also be a sign of sinking crawl space supports, sinking floors, and heaving floors.
Repairing Foundation Settlement
At Baker’s Waterproofing, we recommend installing foundation piers to stabilize, repair, and restore a foundation that’s been damaged by issues related to foundation settlement, mine subsidence and poor supporting soils.
There are several different types of foundation piers; each one is designed to address a different kind of foundation problem. We install three different kinds of foundation piers: push piers, helical piers, and slab piers.
Foundation SettleStop™ Push Piers
Foundation push piers are straight, steel piers that attach to your foundation and extend far below the structure to strong supporting soils.
During the installation, a section of the foundation footing is exposed and cut to attach to each pier’s bracket. This is possible year-round from either inside or outside of your foundation or structure.
Foundation brackets are secured to the footing, and tubular pier sections are hydraulically driven through each bracket.
Pier sections continue to be driven downwards until the piers meet competent strata that can bear the weight of your home without compression.
When all push piers have been installed, they will work in unison to transfer the weight of the structure to the strong soils or bedrock below. If possible, the home is also lifted back to its original, level position.
Foundation SettleStop™ Helical Piers
Foundation helical piers are straight, steel piers that have helical blades welded to each shaft. This installation is possible from either inside or outside of your foundation.
These piers are driven into the soils underneath your foundation, then each pier is connected to the structure’s foundation via a steel bracket.
During the installation, a section of the footing is exposed and cut for each bracket. Next, round-shaft helical piers are mechanically advanced into the soil. Once the helical pier has been advanced into the soil, a foundation bracket is secured to the footing.
When all helical piers have been installed, they will work in unison to transfer the weight of the structure to competent soil. If possible, the structure is also lifted back to a level position.
SettleStop™ Slab Pier Systems
Foundation slab piers are straight steel piers that extend from stable soils deep below the structure to support brackets directly in contact with the underside of the slab.
These piers are meant to support a settling concrete floor and are not appropriate for foundation wall stabilization.
During installation, a small hole is cored through the concrete floor. A slab bracket is assembled beneath the concrete slab, and steel tubes are hydraulically driven down through this bracket assembly.
When the slab piers have reached competent soils, the weight of the slab is transferred through the piers to load-bearing soils below. If possible, the slab is lifted back to level position.
At the end of the installation, grout is pumped under the slab to fill any voids, and all cored holes in the slab are restored with new concrete for a clean, professional look.
This installation is possible year-round and provides a permanent solution for your home.
What NOT To Do
Like all home improvements and repairs, some methods work better than others. On the other hand, some methods seem to hardly work at all. In fact, at Baker’s Waterproofing, we find that many of our foundation repair jobs are actually just fixing the unsuccessful repairs of other contractors.
Based on our experiences throughout Western PA and Northern West Virginia, here are three “fixes” that we do NOT recommend:
Total Foundation Replacement
To completely replace your home’s foundation, the soil will have to be removed from around your home and your home will be jacked up and placed on temporary supports.
Next, your foundation walls are completely removed, and a new set of walls are constructed.
This is expensive, time-consuming, and extremely disruptive for a family. Even worse, it doesn’t even address the real problem — the soils around your foundation.
Many homeowners remove and replace their foundation without addressing the problem that caused the foundation issue in the first place. When this happens, they often find that after several years, they’re facing the same problem all over again.
At Baker’s Waterproofing, we address the problem with warrantied solutions that will fix your problem once and for all.
To install concrete underpinning, the soils must be excavated from around the foundation. Larger concrete footings are poured beneath the existing footings. Once the concrete has cured, the soil is backfilled.
When it comes to foundation footings, “bigger” is not necessarily “better.” Most of the time, the underpinning will not extend beyond the problem soils under your home. If this is true, the larger footings you just paid for will continue to move and cause damage.
Concrete shrinks as it cures and small gaps can form between the new and old footings. Open gaps beneath a home are never a good thing!
When concrete underpinning is installed and fails to solve the problem, it is much more expensive to repair. Before installing a new foundation system, all that added concrete will need to be removed.
To install concrete piers under a home, the soil will first need to be excavated from around your foundation.
Short, 6″-8″wide concrete cylinders are then pushed into the soil on top of one another, strung together by a wire. Shims are then placed between the top of the concrete pier and the footing, then the soil is backfilled. The over-lifting process required to perform shimming may lead to further damage to your foundation.
Blunt, wide concrete cylinders are difficult to push deep into the ground, making it very difficult to extend them past the poor supporting soils under your home.
Concrete can crack and break when under pressure, and even in response to temperature changes, making concrete piers a flimsy repair method.
Additionally, there is nothing to guide the direction for the pier, which means they might not be installed straight. So how will they support your home?
Because of these and other reasons, very few companies will recommend this kind of approach.
We Repair Settling Foundations in PA & WV!
At Baker’s Waterproofing, we can identify and repair any issue you may be having with settling, sinking foundations.
Each of our solutions starts with a free, written foundation repair quote. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call or e-mail us today!
We proudly serve Morgantown, Pittsburgh, Clarksburg, areas such as Bethel Park, Beaver, Wheeling, Cranberry Township, Greensburg, Washington, Fairmont, and nearby.