Foundation Repair Case Studies: Foundation Investigation in Cottonwood, Arizona
Thank you for allowing Arizona Foundation Solutions to present this foundation survey and assessment for the proposed foundation repairs on your property.
Homeowner’s Concerns/Goals: The homeowner contacted AZFS regarding the floor crack under the carpet in the master suite. The homeowner would like to address any foundation issues prior to remodeling the home.
Purpose of the Investigation: The purpose of this report is to evaluate the foundation and the foundation conditions of this property, and to perform a manometer and foundation survey on the interior of the property.
Limitations: The purpose of this report is limited to documenting and addressing the areas of concern indicated by the customer related to potential foundation movements. Arizona Foundation Solutions uses a variety of tools such as manometer survey, observations by technicians with notes and photographs, and industry standards such as the Foundation Performance Association (FPA) “Guidelines for the Evaluation of Foundation Movement for Residential and Other Low-Rise Buildings” to determine if foundation movement has impacted the serviceability of the home. The term serviceability relates to items such as pinched doors and windows, cracks in drywall and slabs, cracks in exterior stucco and walls and the like. Recommendations in this report are made to address and limit future issues related to serviceability and the customer’s concern.
The extent and scope of this manometer and foundation survey and assessment is detailed as follows:
• Perform a manometer survey.
• Locate areas of potential foundation and floor movement, if any.
• Visually inspect and record the interior and the exterior of the location.
• Evaluate any noted movement using industry consensus methods, if any.
• Prepare a documented repair plan if needed.
Foundation Footprint: A drawing of the footprint of the first floor was created and is included in this report.
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.
Arizona Foundation Solutions believes that the proper way to permanently stop the perimeter foundation settlement is to underpin the areas that are experiencing movement. Underpinning is the process of installing deep foundation elements called piles. Piles are engineered foundation supports that are driven down past the unstable soils and are then locked up into load bearing strata, which can support the loads that are transferred to them. Once the piles have been installed, they can be used to lift the perimeter foundation up to it’s Highest Practical Maximum. The piles should be spaced approximately six feet on center and should start and stop near the hinge points of movement (exact spacing to be determined after load bearing calculations). In this case, the piles would be located at the north/northwestern portion of the home. The slab can then be treated by injecting a light weight expansive polyurethane to fill existing voids and lift the floor slab. This is done by drilling small 3/8” holes in the slab after which polyurethane grout is injected directly under the slab to raise it up to it’s Highest Practical Maximum. Using the expansive materials will help prevent additional slab settlement by compacting the upper layer of soil as it expands.
A protection plan has been designed to stop the south, southeast and western portions of the home from any possible future settlement and further damages. AZFS can permanently stabilize this area at the homeowner’s discretion.
Arizona Foundation Solutions believes that the proper way to deal with foundation heave is by lowering and managing the moisture content of expansive clays that cause heaving. It is our recommendation to manage the moisture underneath the foundation through active soil depressurization. This process will remove existing moisture from the soil as well as new moisture from the expansive clays and will help bring the moisture content down to an optimal level using both convection and evaporation. This will mitigate future heaving of the clay soil and possibly allow existing heaving to subside. This process can take six months to several years to reach equilibrium. Minor movement may still occur, as the Moisture Level® System is intended to prevent significant and continual upward movement caused by moisture.
The Moisture Level® System is designed to control the moisture of expansive clays that cause heaving under the home. If optimal results are not achieved with the Moisture Level® System including additional measures described below, more aggressive measures may be required. The manometer and foundation survey will act as a baseline to measure performance over time.
If slab cracks are present and not too close to the walls, then composite interlocking can be performed to tie the broken pieces of the concrete together. The existing cracks will be cleaned, and non-parallel lines will be cut across the existing cracks. Next carbon fiber laminate stitches will be inserted into the non-parallel cuts and then the gaps will be filled with a two-part poly. Finally, the crack should be ground smooth to minimize the differential. If done properly, this will allow the slab to function as one unit to help prevent the damages to flooring, ceiling and walls. If this is instead expansion joint separation, the joint should be cleaned, routed, and re-caulked with an expansive joint filler. A determination as to which repair is needed will be made on site once the crack is exposed. The homeowner may want to contact a flooring expert and consider floating the flooring after the repair has been made.
Since storm runoff is responsible for the majority of the moisture that pools next to the foundation, gutters need to be modified 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.
Cracks on the floor are clear signs of foundation problems.
The symptoms are not limited to appearing only on the inside of the house, but they can also appear on the outside, as shown in this picture.