Case Studies

Arizona Foundation Solutions Case Studies: Crawl Space Repair

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021 by Jessica LaFlesch

Challenge

The Owners of this 2005 home reached out to us after noticing several symptoms of a foundation problem.  Specific symptoms included:

  • Interior wall cracking
  • Interior gaps at the baseboards
  • Sloping floors
  • Exterior concrete cracking

After completing an initial Level A Foundation Inspection, the signs of stress determined a Level B Foundation Inspection (we call it a Forensic Engineered Report) was needed. 

Exterior Inspection: The exterior of the location was visually inspected. Items such as foundation cracks, exterior wall cracks, improper grading, type of structure, poor drainage, gutters or no gutters, bowed retaining walls, large trees close to the foundation and any type of obstructions that may or may not influence the repair process were noted and recorded.

Interior Inspection: The interior of the location was visually inspected. Items such as floor cracks, wall cracks, ceiling cracks, sloping floors, uneven counter tops, doors and windows that are out of alignment, cracked window glass and bowed walls were noted and recorded.

Manometer Survey: The manometer survey, also known as a floor survey, is a measurement of the differences of interior floor elevations. The flatness of the interior floor was measured using a highly accurate survey device known as a Manometer. The entire interior floor area was surveyed and the elevations were recorded. These data points were then entered into a computer program that provides a topographical map showing the high and low elevation contours of the floor surface. This topographical map shows where the foundation is no longer level and shows where support and stabilization is needed. The floor survey also demonstrates whether any floor slab heave or settlement exists.

After examining the home and performing the manometer survey, Arizona Foundation Solutions believes the home could be experiencing foundation settlement northern portion of the home as shown by the damage (also known as Signs of Stress) and lower readings on the Topographical Map. The drop off in floor elevations on the topographical map is consistent with a foundation settlement pattern. Settlement can be caused by one or any combination of many factors including sub-grade saturation of moisture due to poor drainage, years of storm runoff, plumbing leaks, improper compaction, the lack of a proper foundation system, and/or (in most cases) natural earth movement.

AZFS believes the home could be experiencing minor foundation settlement at the northern perimeter of the home and garage as shown by the lower readings on the Topographical Map.

The Foundation Performance Association (FPA) “Guidelines for the Evaluation of Foundation Movement for Residential And Other Low-Rise Buildings” were adopted to correlate acceptable and unacceptable distress phenomena with actual survey elevations. Deflection and Tilt calculations were performed and compared to allowable values. For this engineered analysis, the deflection of the slab (L/274) exceeds the allowable deflection limit of L/360. In addition, the tilt of the slab (0.3%) was less than the allowable tilt of 1.00%.

Solution

AZFS believes the best way to stabilize the support beams in the crawl space is with Smart Jacks – nine total. These are adjustable galvanized supports engineered to be placed under the sagging floors to help prevent settlement of the floor joist system. The Smart Jack sequence should start at approximately 2’ off each perimeter wall and should not be spaced more than 7’ on center (exact spacing to be determined after load bearing calculations). An engineered push pier will be driven concentrically beneath the beam at each Smart Jack location to provide a footing for each Smart Jack. If for whatever reason The installation of concentric piers is not possible, a concrete footing of engineered size will be poured beneath the Smart Jack to distribute the load. The Smart Jacks will then be cut to size and set in place. Finally, the units will be adjusted to lift the sagging floors back to their best functioning point or the Highest Practical Maximum.

The foundation settlement in the northern perimeter of the home and garage appears to be minor at this point in time. A protection plan has been designed to stop the area from any additional settlement and further damages. AZFS can permanently stabilize this area to protect the foundation from future settlement at the Homeowners discretion.

Since storm runoff is responsible for the majority of the moisture that pools next to the foundation, gutters need to be installed to prevent the storm runoff from increasing the amount of foundation movement. A proper gutter system should be installed to discharge the storm runoff a minimum of 10 feet, preferably 20 feet away from the foundation. We do not recommend installing gutters that discharge next to the foundation as this will only increase the probability of a foundation problem.

Project Summary

Engineer: Néstor J. Brea

Consultant: Chris Ortiz

Foreperson: Daniel Alston

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Our Locations:

Arizona Foundation Solutions
3841 E Superior Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85040
1-602-883-3777
Arizona Foundation Solutions service area