Posts Tagged ‘Foundation Damage’

foundation plate with no nails in Los Angelesnail

noun

1. a slender, typically rod-shaped rigid piece of metal, usually in any of numerous standard lengths from a fraction of an inch to several inches and having one end pointed and the other enlarged and flattened, for hammering into or through wood, other building materials, etc., as used in building, in fastening, or in holding separate pieces together.

verb  

1. to fasten with a nail or nails: to nail the steel plate to the wood framing.

2. to make fast or keep firmly in one place or position: Surprise nailed him to the spot.

 

Hiding in the darker recesses of a great Spanish duplex in Silverlake, we recently found multiple examples of these steel foundation plates that had the right bolts…but no nails attaching them to anything! During seismic activity, this building will not perform as it would had it been properly secured. Unfortunately, there were whole sections of the tougher to reach spots that had been completely omitted, so the picture here is actually not even the worst of it!

 

As we see this kind of unacceptable error on a fairly regular basis, we again here remind you of the importance of only having specialists perform specialty tasks; be it roofing, plumbing, electrical, foundation, or any other relevant trade, always spend the time to research out the people who will be entrusted to do things right for your house!

It may be true that one termite can only eat so much, but if he and his troops are lunching on a main support girder that holds up your house, every bite is leading towards an eventual problem!

Here we see an example of this where a main support girder under a 1921 house has been hollowed out and the floor joists that are meant to rest on it are now crushing what is left of it. This of course translated through to the interior of the home in the form of sloping floors and growing plaster cracks in the walls.

Whereas we here at The Foundation Works are not providing the same service as a pest control company does, we are yet quite aware of the amount of damage that termites can do to a home if left unchecked.

As it is fairly an “out of sight and out of mind” issue, I wanted to send out a reminder that having a termite inspection performed on occasion is good “preventative care” for your home. Whereas we do not perform termite inspections, there are many companies that specialize in that line of work. Utilizing on-line resources such as Yelp and Angie’s List as well as asking your real estate agents and/or home inspectors for the best choices is a great place to start!

Is That Holding my House Up?

Author: The Editor

Yes, this is yet another “double-take” moment under a house where just when I was sure I’d seen it all, this…”assembly” came into view! As is often the case, the homeowner had no idea that this was underfoot and in fact this pile of scrap wood is in a location that made it very relevant to the two-story weight load above it!

Now, the good thing is that this is a very limited problem and a very limited repair, but the bad thing is that this makes this home very vulnerable seismically and so many such simple fixes (this is a few hundred dollar type repair) can be eliminated quite easily.

We pride ourselves on finding and eliminating the worst offenses as a means of adding stability to a building as well as helping to extend its overall useful life. In that we offer a free foundation inspection for an owner occupied primary residence, feel free to pass this e-mail on to anyone who may have questions about the foundation of their home. Hopefully we can give it a clean bill of health but if there are issues to correct, we can let them know the best way to go about taking care of them as well!

Should a Sidewalk Crack?

Author: The Editor

Well once again, and yes you’ve heard me say it many times before, there is a water issue causing this otherwise perfectly good house to have foundation issues that it need not have ever had!

Here are the indicators that the picture contains, if you look closely it will be quite clear:

1.  The sidewalk is sloped toward the house not away from it, and this is more evident in relation to the sections of it that are actually correctly sloped (foreground and background portions of it).
2.  There is water staining along the sidewalk adjacent to the house that shows where the water wants to go.
3.  There is past caulking repair attempts (grey color) right where the sidewalk and the house meet, but the repair is not working…
4.  There is a downspout in coming from the roof that supplies this “problem area” with 100’s of gallons of water on any given rainy day.
5.  And unfortunately, there are significant issues under the house directly in the line of flow of this water that has been flowing, unchecked, for several years.

This damage could have been easily corrected and would have saved this property owner from some pretty big foundation fixes. Now, as a hot summer draws to a close, is a great time to take a pre-emptive look around your house and see if there are any similar “recipes” that could be easily corrected now, before another winter gets to them!

Though we do not provide drainage corrections, having a drainage specialist come out and correct any such instances can help further protect your home’s foundation well into the future, which is our primary objective and I’m sure it’s yours as well!

The Forces of Mother Nature

Author: The Editor

 The forces of Mother Nature are indisputable; given time, she can create some amazing effects by way of water.  However, there is a time and a place for “amazing effects” and the crawl space under your house needs to be kept out of this category!

The photo above shows a house in Mt. Washington that, due to an easily correctable issue outside the rear of the building, has resulted in a water flow path right through the foundation. This is undermining the supports under this otherwise perfectly good foundation. Notice the similarity between it and a similar occurrence in an undeveloped area…

Possibly the biggest single enemy of foundations is water. One of the wisest things you can do to help protect your home well into the future is to have the property drainage controlled such that no water reaches the foundation of the home. This is just good old-fashioned common sense that may save your home from problems it need not ever develop!

If you’ve not already done so, have a competent drainage specialist take care of any potential sources of moisture intrusion to help extend the useful life of your home’s foundation!

Save Money on Foundation Repair Los Angeles CA

The best way to save money on your foundation is to properly maintain it.

A well-built foundation should last a long time as long as it is correctly maintained. On earlier blog postings we have given you a lot of information on the different things that could damage the foundation of your home so let’s look at what are some simple things that you can do to make the foundation of your house last a long time.

Here are some helpful tips to prevent damage to your home’s foundation and making it last:

  1. Keep the ground around your home foundation at a constant moisture level. The soil throughout Los Angeles is able to absorb (and lose) water. During rain season the soil is likely to swell as it retains water. During drier seasons the soil, being severely dry is likely to shrink. This creates significant stress on the concrete slab which is resting on top of the soil. Keeping the soil around your home moist during warm and dry periods and preventing water to accumulate next to your house during rain periods extends the life of your foundation.
  2. Keep a record of any cracks inside or outside your house. Write down the location and length of any cracks, then measure every few month. If the cracks are growing it is time to schedule an inspection. Even if the foundation is damaged we might be able to custom repair it without having to rebuild the whole foundation.
  3. If a large tree is getting too close to house barricade the roots to prevent roots-growth from damaging the foundation.

Dry Soil

Author: Tom

Dry Soil and Foundation Damage Los AngelesThis photo seems at first to have nothing to do with foundations, but in reality it shows a very significant cause of what goes on when a house is settling.

Please do yourself the favor of taking a few moments to read this. It is very important recent news that may affect your foundation… 

We took this photo just a few days ago, it shows what can happen when a yard does not get the amount of water it’s used to. This homeowner went looking for a foundation company when the walls in her house started showing new cracking in July. What she didn’t know until we got there and showed her was that having dialed her water usage back about a month ago, the soil of the yard had contracted as it dried out from lack of its usual watering schedule. This in turn created gapping at the ends of the landscaping not only next to the city sidewalk but also next to the house itself.

Recent water restrictions can damage your foundation! This is a word of advice, there is easily preventable damage that can be avoided by taking a few common sense steps that will allow you to follow the guidelines of water usage and yet do so in a way that keeps your house from being adversely affected by it.

As you are likely aware, recent water usage restrictions have been put into effect that drastically reduce the liberty to water your yard as you see fit.  There is a hidden downside to this that can create new foundation problems and it is for that reason that we are sending you this message.

Simply put, cared for landscaping adjacent to a house that is used to getting the correct amount of water includes the factor of having the soil in that area contain a relatively steady level of moisture in it. This tends to keep the soil from drying out too much which in some types of soil could otherwise allow for soil contraction to occur. Combined with the recent high humidity, greatly reducing or even eliminating the watering of landscaping near the home is causing issues to “activate” that until recently had not been present.  When the soil next to the outside of the house shrinks, it allows room for the soil next to it to contract and the foundation walls can then shift towards that newly created gapping. This is enough to cause the house to display new issues.  We typically inspect several foundations a day in various parts of Los Angeles county and over these past weeks, there has been a distinct rise in the amount of situations where new clients that are calling for inspections are speaking of things happening in houses that seem to have “suddenly started”. One for one, we have found altered watering schedules to be the single common denominator of all of these issues. Where this pertains to you is that if you have reduced the watering of the foliage areas adjacent to your home, new manifestations may begin to appear. These would be things in the home like cracks in walls, sticking doors, floor seams showing separation, etc.  We go from house to house, all day every day, looking at various occurrences and so are extremely in tune to why these things occur.  Having an external force such as the water municipality introduce a variable into the existing “recipe” of a workable watering schedule is a concern. This is a change that they do not likely even realize can cause foundation issues that would not otherwise have occurred.

We are not advocating that you ignore the restrictions but rather that you alter your watering scheduling to ensure that the landscaping closest to the house gets the closest to its “previously normal” watering program and that the further from the house an area of the yard is, the less relevant it is to the foundation.

We hope this information is helpful to you, please do pass it on to others you know who may otherwise experience similar issues. Specific recommendations can be found at www.bewaterwise.com as to how to go about tuning your particular yard watering to find a happy medium that both reduces water usage and keeps the house from damage. Our objective is to help your house have a healthy foundation and a big part of that objective is preventative care such as described above.

Cracks in the Walls

Author: Tom

Walls crackingCracks in the walls? There is darn near only one reason why that happens. Water!  The photo below shows multiple effects of water. Notice the water lines on the rear wall. Notice the supports that are now leaning. Notice the crack in the foundation. Notice the expansive soil. All of this could have been avoided if the soil had not gotten wet.  This is the time of year when properties without proper provisions for rain water runoff end up getting over-saturated and cracks start appearing in the walls. Inadequate drainage is far and away the chief cause of foundation settlement in older buildings and is often a very simple correction. The longer one waits to do it, the more exposed the foundation is to damage though.

We specialize in correcting all types of foundation issues and in most cases, these needed repairs come from a lack of a good drainage plan long-term.  You’ll often hear us calling for foundation corrections but then also reminding of the importance of drainage at the perimeter.  We’ve sent out similar messages before, and others may come in the future. In that for most of us, our home is our largest investment, this is a simple way to help you really protect yours well into the future!

Water Damage and Foundations sinkingAs many of you have no doubt heard me preach repeatedly, water is far and away the number one enemy of foundations in terms of the cumulative damage that it indiscriminately does to so many homes.  For that reason, I wanted to send out this timely reminder – as winter is again upon us – that any drainage corrections that can be done to your home are best done prior to the soil under the house getting wet again.

The photo above is a fine illustration of how much effect Mother Nature can create under a house.  In this particular home, and this is all too common, the expansive quality of the soil has heaved up when wet and contracted when dry and in so doing, left a large enough gap for a hand to easily fit into. This is meant to be a load bearing structural support and yet it is simply hanging in the air.  With the soil in the currently dry condition, this would be an appropriate time to adjust this support to fill the gap.  However, one must also then take care of whatever drainage issues led to the expansion and contraction in the first place.

If the walls of your house are cracking, it’s not “because they’re old”, they’re cracking because there is some moisture related issue still creating effect in the foundation area.  Our interest is in protecting your foundation well into the future and for that reason, this reminder comes to you to be sure that you follow through with any needed drainage corrections in order to accomplish that. We can recommend companies who perform such services or you can locate a competent one of your choosing, either way your house will thank you!