Posts Tagged ‘foundation repair’

Sloping Floors

Author: The Editor

sloping floor foundationSometimes it is obvious to the homeowner, that he, (or she), has a foundation issue and needs to get it repaired.   But there are also many times when the homeowner just isn’t sure if there is a problem or not.

For example, many homes, (especially older ones), have floors that begin to slope.  Now here, in the Los Angeles area, where so many homes are built on hills, this could prove to be quite critical, if indeed a foundation issue is causing the sloping floor.

Sloping floors are not always caused by a foundation problem.  Occasionally, a floor may begin to slant because of rotted sills or an inadequate deflecting support beam.   In the majority of cases, however,  the  foundation is the cause.

A lot of people just live with sloping floors thinking that this is just part of the process as the structure ages.   This is not a wise course to embark on.  Unhandled, sloping floors could lead to further structural issues by causing strain in other areas.

If you are concerned you have a problem with your foundation, give us a call and we will come out and look at it for you.   One of our highly trained inspectors will walk the interior and perimeter of your home.  Then, they will crawl under it, to make a complete evaluation of the condition of the foundation.

Why can’t we give you a quote over the phone?  It is just impossible to give a professional “diagnosis”, without an on-site inspection.  Even if you have had someone else inspect it, we definitely want to make our own analysis.  You wouldn’t phone your doctor and say, hey doc, last week I saw someone who said my rash was psoriasis, what do you think?  No doctor would agree with the diagnosis over the phone (we hope, that is), without personally examining you.

Think of us as your foundation “doctors”.  Our “exam” is very thorough, at the end of the inspection we provide you with a full report. If the foundation is healthy we will let you know. Also in many cases we find problems that can be fixed with a foundation “tune up”, without having to overhaul the whole foundation and no matter what we find there is no obligation to have us perform the repair.

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!

…and yet another lovely travel destination brought to you courtesy of the inspectors at The Foundation Works!

This is the scenic view under a 1917 Craftsman in South Pasadena, a charming house in a quaint neighborhood but you wouldn’t know it by this photo!

Yes, there is water dripping through the electrical conduit in the foreground; yes, there is debris left by past tradesmen…

But the focus of our concern is the fact that this leaking bathroom is essentially being supported at its primary girder at the center of the bath by that one piece of 2 inch by 4 inch lumber in the center of the photo, the one that is at a severely shifted angle and which termites have (also due to the water) made a smorgasbord of!

We were called out to find out why the beautiful period tile in the bathroom of this home was cracking. Turned out to be, as is so often the case, a very limited problem and a very limited repair.  We had the client get a plumber to stop the leakage, then we cleared out the debris and brought in new structural lumber to restore the structural status such that the bathroom would then hold still.

In this case, the plumbing leak had been there long-term, it was not recent; this saturated the soil under the bathroom which caused the concrete support pier to shift. The wet wood also acted as an invite to subterranean termites, who came in and contributed by eating right through this main support post.  Next thing you know, the bathroom tiles are “mysteriously” cracking…

The moral of the story is simply this: Old houses do not crack and sink and shift and settle just by virtue of age; there is always a cause prior to an effect, and this is just one more instance of that.

Don’t be afraid of your house, if it is doing something non-optimal, have it looked at. You may find that what you worried about is actually a simple fix!

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 Foundation Works Earns Coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

The Foundation Works has been awarded the prestigious 2010 Angie’s List Super Service Award, an honor bestowed annually on approximately 5 percent of all the companies rated on the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies.

“Our Super Service Award winners are the cream of the crop when it comes to providing consistently high quality customer service, as judged by the customers who hired them,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List.

The Foundation Works provides affordable foundation inspection, foundation repair, foundation upgrades, earthquake retrofitting and house bolting services for the whole Los Angeles area.

Angie’s List Super Service Award winners have met strict eligibility requirements including earning a minimum number of reports, an exemplary rating from their customers and abiding by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List, but members can find the 2010 Super Service Award logo next to company names in search results on AngiesList.com.

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.

Bad Foundation BoltTRUE: All legally permitted houses built after 1936 in the City of Los Angeles and most surrounding cities are “bolted” to their foundations.

FALSE:  Those bolts are in the same condition now as they were when installed…

Having crawled under 1,000’s of houses and seeing many interesting sights during those “adventures”, above is a photo of something that we see all too often. This is one of a series of failed anchor bolts in a “bolted” house built in the late 1930’s.

There are several key points in the photo. First, and most obvious, the rusted anchor bolt was removed by simply lifting it out of the piece of wood that was originally anchoring it down to the foundation. No tools required, it just came right out. Secondly, notice the chunks of concrete lying in the dirt below. This is the cracked foundation created by the expansive pressure of the rusting metal over time. Why? Water coming through from the exterior over time.  Next you’ll notice the white chalkiness on the concrete, this is the mineral deposits that water has pulled out of the concrete foundation, further weakening it.  On the ground you can see the metal shards that once formed a perfectly good steel anchor bolt.

If you’re not sure of the status of what’s holding your house down, we can come out and perform a fast, honest, and accurate evaluation of your foundation system and can tailor a prescription to bring your home up to current standards seismically.

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!

sinking-floors-walls

Author: The Editor

Sinking Floors and foundation ProblemsWhat is it that makes a floor slowly drop out from under the wall it’s supposed to be holding up?

A thorough inspection of the foundation of this home revealed this simple but harmful chain of events:

  1. Water was being collected from the roof by a set of rain gutters
  2. The gutters were directing all of that water into downspouts which were in turn dumping it next to the rear of this house
  3. The water was then flowing under the foundation and into the crawl space
  4. The lowest spot of this flat lot property was under the floor heater
  5. Once water began accumulating under the heater, the girder supports began to sink into the now muddy soil
  6. That left a key piece of framing hanging in the air above the sunken support
  7. The strain created by that missing support allowed the main girder to crack
  8. The floor above it sank in accordance with the lack of support now present at that spot
  9. The wall is actually now being held up by the ceiling framing above it

If your walls are cracking, doors are sticking, floors are shifting, house is creaking, or any similar event is unfolding at your home, have us come out and take the mystery out of it for you!