In our previous article, we looked at the threats and warning signs of foundation failure. Click here if you haven’t read it.
In this article, we look at the measures you can take to either minimize the chances of failure of foundations (preventative measures) or remedy defects that could lead to complete failures (Corrective measures). The preventative measures include;
Proper site selection: Choosing a site with stable soil conditions and good drainage is critical to preventing foundation failure. Soil conditions can vary significantly from one location to another, so it’s important to conduct a soil analysis to determine the soil type, density, and moisture content. A site with stable soil conditions will provide a solid foundation for the structure and help prevent settling and shifting.
Proper foundation design and construction: The foundation should be designed and constructed to support the weight of the structure and to resist soil and water pressure. This includes ensuring that the foundation is properly reinforced with steel or other materials to prevent cracking and settling and that it is built on a stable soil base. The design should also take into account the local climate, drainage conditions, and any other factors that may affect the foundation’s performance.
Regular maintenance: Regular maintenance is important to prevent foundation damage and deterioration. This includes keeping the foundation clean and free of debris, maintaining proper drainage around the foundation, and repairing any cracks or damage as soon as they are detected. Regular maintenance can help extend the life of the foundation and prevent costly repairs.
Proper drainage: Proper drainage is essential to prevent water from accumulating around the foundation, which can cause soil erosion and foundation settlement. This includes installing gutters and downspouts to divert water away from the foundation and grading the ground around the foundation to slope away from the structure. French drains or other drainage systems may also be necessary to prevent water from pooling around the foundation.
Tree and vegetation management: Trees and vegetation can cause foundation damage if their roots grow too close to the foundation or if they absorb too much moisture from the soil. It’s important to plant trees and vegetation away from the foundation and to regularly trim roots and branches that are too close. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove trees or vegetation that pose a risk to the foundation.
Regular inspections: Regular inspections by a qualified professional can help detect and prevent foundation problems before they become serious. A professional can identify warning signs of foundation failure and recommend appropriate repairs and maintenance. Inspections should be conducted annually or as recommended by the professional, especially in areas prone to soil movement or where the climate is extreme.
By implementing these measures, you can help minimize the risk of foundation failure and ensure the safety and stability of your home or building. If you have any concerns about your foundation, it’s important to consult with a qualified professional who can assess the condition of your foundation and recommend appropriate measures to prevent further damage.
But what if the defects are already significant and the foundation is already failing? In this case, you can take some corrective measures which include;
1. Foundation underpinning: Underpinning is a process of adding additional support to the foundation by installing piers or other supports beneath the foundation. This is done to lift and level the foundation, and to prevent further settling or shifting. There are several types of underpinning techniques, including:
Steel piers: These are steel tubes that are driven deep into the ground until they reach stable soil or bedrock. The weight of the foundation is then transferred onto the piers, which support and stabilize the foundation.
Concrete piers: These are similar to steel piers, but are made of concrete. They are poured into holes dug beneath the foundation and reinforced with steel.
Helical piers: These are similar to steel piers, but have a helical shape that allows them to be screwed into the ground like a corkscrew. They are used in areas with poor soil conditions and can be installed quickly and with minimal disturbance to the surrounding area.
2. Foundation Repair: Foundation repair is necessary when the foundation has cracks, damage, or other structural issues. There are several techniques that can be used to repair foundation damage, including:
Concrete crack repair: This involves filling cracks in the foundation with epoxy or other materials to prevent water from penetrating into the foundation and causing further damage.
Foundation wall reinforcement: This involves installing steel beams or other materials to reinforce the foundation walls and prevent further cracking or damage.
Foundation replacement: In severe cases, the entire foundation may need to be replaced. This involves lifting the structure off of the existing foundation, demolishing the old foundation, and building a new foundation.
3. Drainage improvements: Improving drainage around the foundation is important to prevent water from accumulating and causing damage to the foundation. There are several techniques that can be used to improve drainage, including:
Installing gutters and downspouts: These are used to collect water from the roof and redirect it away from the foundation.
Grading the ground around the foundation: This involves sloping the ground away from the foundation to prevent water from accumulating around the foundation.
Installing a French drain: A French drain is a trench filled with gravel or other materials that are used to collect and redirect water away from the foundation.
4. Soil stabilization: Soil stabilization techniques may be necessary to prevent further foundation settling or shifting. There are several techniques that can be used to stabilize the soil, including:
Injecting grout or other materials: This involves injecting grout or other materials into the soil to stabilize it and prevent further settling or shifting.
Installing foundation supports: This involves installing special supports that anchor into stable soil to provide additional support for the foundation.
5. Waterproofing: Waterproofing the foundation is important to prevent water from penetrating into the foundation and causing damage. There are several techniques that can be used to waterproof the foundation, including:
Applying sealants or waterproof coatings: These are used to create a barrier between the foundation and water.
Installing a drainage system: A drainage system can be installed around the foundation to collect and redirect water away from the foundation.
It’s important to note that these remedies should be implemented by a qualified professional who has experience in foundation repair and construction. If you suspect that your foundation has been damaged or is in need of repair, it’s important to consult with a qualified professional who can assess the condition of your foundation and recommend appropriate remedies.
Read about the merits of hiring construction professionals by clicking here.