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Thread: Anyone had foundation probs?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Anyone had foundation probs?

    In the middle of a drought here in the south and with gumbo clay soil = foundation problems... I think. Well here is the situation. I was working on the lawn and notice a crack a about 2'-3' above my foundation runnning a good way up the wall. This crack is not more than 1/4 gap, most of it is 1/8 or quite a bit less. I believe it appears to be solely cosmetic but I do not know. The slab is a post-tension slab and appears to be in pretty good shape. I'm going to remove a small plum tree which is close by and put a soaker hose in to keep the soil damp.

    Anyone been through something similar and if so did a soaker hose help solve the problem over time or did you call in a foundation repair man? From everything I've read it sounds like a lot of the repairs are more cosmetic than structural???

    Just wanting some opinions. I have a site inspection scheduled, and checked with insurance they don't cover JACK!!!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Having grown up in Georgia, my impression is that a lot of people water the ground near the house during hot, dry spells to avoid the type of problem you are describing. I have never done it and could be wrong, but that is my impression.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I'm a bit confused. You ARE referring to the concrete cracking, right, and not the soil separating from around the foundation? 1/4" crack is definitely a cause for concern.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I've only had that happen when a tree whacked my house during a hurricane.

    But, it happens quite frequently here in FL in wood-frame houses with stucco on the outside. Big concern!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I thought this thread was going to involve women's undergarments. Nevermind.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake
    I thought this thread was going to involve women's undergarments. Nevermind.
    So if I had stucco cracking off my b**bs, you'd be interested?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    How long have you owned the home and did you have a licensed home inspector, inspect it? If you have not owned the house for too long of time, you may have a remedy against the home inspector's insurance policy. Your mortgage insurance may also have a clause for this.

    Finally, if your area has had building inspections since your place was built, call and get a copy of the inspection reports. It may have identified issues during construction and the City having issued an occupancy permit may be responsible for helping you out.

    Since it is slab on grade, I would not worry as much as if it were a wall on a footing.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Any chance for a picture? 1/4" sounds significant.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    My yankee friends laugh at me for watering my foundation (still have problems). They are too busy trying to keep water out of their basements. I really do miss basements though...

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    This crack is not a 1/4" wide yet. I have been watering twice a day, as allowed. Under water rationing. The house was built in 1993 and I did have a home inspection before I moved in last August. It will be a year coming up in about 3 months. I contacted insurance and they won't cover jack it appears. Makes me wonder why I pay high premiums . The house is on a post-tension slab and the slab appears to be in good shape, no cracks or deformation noticed. The soil is a gumbo clay so the plasticity I'm sure is not good, I don't know if they lime the base or how much if any select fill they used. I'm concerned though, but most of what I read seems as though most brick cracks are cosmetic, though a foundation repair company will probably say something different.


    Donk do you think the City would help me out at this point? The house is about 12+ years old??? I'm struggling here to get some help, LOL. Its frustrating to see me dump a grand in home owners insurance and they won't do jack. But from an engineers website he claims most brick cracks are not a result of a failing foundation and foundation work really could lead to serious foundation problems if not assessed correctly... I find it hard to believe that if my home sunk into the abyss that the insurance would not cover it. I guess myself and the mortgage company would just be S.O.L.???

    Oh, I'll try to get a pic up today if possible... I called a foundation guy to give me an estimate. My thoughts are the foundation is flexing but structurally fine, which is causing the crack in the bricks. With water and the soil expansion, I'm sure its a very high plasticity index, it will close up. Or the foundation guy will talk about an under pin to seal up the small crack? I'm not sure if thats what it is called.
    Last edited by nerudite; 06 Jun 2006 at 10:20 AM.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    WARNING LONG TECHNICAL CANADIAN ANSWER FOLLOWS


    Quote Originally posted by Vlaude
    Donk do you think the City would help me out at this point? The house is about 12+ years old???
    The rule of thumb and based on court cases here (Canada - St Andrews NB) is that if an inspector is negligent in their job while doing an inspection the city is on the hook for a portion of the repair bills. In your case, if the subsurface base was not prepared properly(ie "green" in the hole/non disturbed soil issues) before pour, and the inspector did not note it and should have seen it in carrying out "normal" duties, then the city would have a portion of the liability for repairs. Similarily, if the City did see it and issued an order to comply, prior to pour, but did not follow up to ensure that the work was undertaken then they have a portion of the liability. Also if the City reviewed the foundation plans and approved them for construction then they have a portion of the liability, as does the architect or engineer who stamped or designed them. Finally, if the City ordered action, and the builder did not do it, then the builder is responsible.

    Here there is no time limit, this all came about due to a motel that was 25 years old.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I'm not familar with the term - "green" in the whole??? They poured it too soon prior to proper excavation and stabilization?

    I have never heard of a City being liable at part here in the states unless maybe there was gross negligence on the part of the inspector. I'll give the City a call and see if they have any records.

  13. #13
    You have a slab-on-grade with, I presume, a brick veneer for the dwelling? The cracks are both in the slab and in the veneer? Is there evidence in the interior of cracking?

    Be sure to get several estimates in writing, then take a visit to the Building Commissioner's office. They will often help you understand what the contractor's are identifying as the problem; what problems they typically see; and, what types of fixes have been successful in your region. Other than that, I expect they'd be reluctant to offer any other type of assistance.

    BTW: homes in my sister's neighborhood in Dallas have had costly problems such as you describe and she waters her slab regularly. Good luck.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Gedunker, I am in NE Dallas area, just north of Plano. Some really poor soil conditions for concrete, what I call gumbo clay. The slab nor any interior or exterior walls show signs of cracks or breaks other than the one crack in the veneer. The only place I see the crack is in the veneer itself. Like I said I tend to believe the foundation is structurally sound and not a problem, though is probably flexing as post-tension slabs will and therefore I see the small long crack. Do you know what type of work your sister had done? From what I've read if there is a structural problem it could run $3-$4K, does that sound in line with what your sister paid?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Vlaude
    I'm not familar with the term - "green" in the whole???
    Green in the hole refers to organics (grass, roots. trees) that may decompose and undermine a portion of the foundation, leading to cracking.

    As noted, these answers are from a Canadian perspective. Your laws may vary enough that everything I have said is wrong OR maybe you want to be a test case?
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  16. #16
    Quote Originally posted by Vlaude
    Gedunker, I am in NE Dallas area, just north of Plano. ... Do you know what type of work your sister had done? From what I've read if there is a structural problem it could run $3-$4K, does that sound in line with what your sister paid?
    My sister is in Mesquite. I don't remember her home having problems specifically, but rather her neighbors. Three to four thousand sounds familiar. Let me email her this p.m. and I'll get back to you tom'w.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Hey thanks guys appreciate all the information... Trying to get a crash course on brick veneer repair and/or foundation repair. Any info is greatly appreciated.

    Got ya' on the green hole, I've never heard that term before.

  18. #18
    What exactly is their recommended repair? Is it something you could do yourself? I don't know how handy you are, but if it is simple you could save lots.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    I haven't had anyone out yet to take a look at it. So I'll find out what they suggest. If its foundation stuff I won't be doing that, lol. Don't have the equipment or expertise. If it is brick veneer work and more water, I can do that! Doubt thats what a foundation repair guy will say though, but I'm going to get multiple opinions before I do anything...

  20. #20
    Quote Originally posted by Vlaude
    I haven't had anyone out yet to take a look at it. So I'll find out what they suggest. If its foundation stuff I won't be doing that, lol. Don't have the equipment or expertise. If it is brick veneer work and more water, I can do that! Doubt thats what a foundation repair guy will say though, but I'm going to get multiple opinions before I do anything...
    If it's non-structural, then they may simply recommend patching with a cement or a crack sealer (caulk) to minimize water intrusion. The sealer would also flex as the crack varies in size (to an extent). This would be work you could do yourself also.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Ok... Here is the pic Like I said no visible signs of cracks in the foundation or inside the house. I think this is from a flexing post-tension slab, waiting for some estimators to come and take a look at it...


  22. #22
    I emailed my sister last night but have not had a response yet.

    Seeing the image, I'm tending to agree with you about the slab tension causing the crack in the brick veneer. Has this crack been growing lately, or has it been static?

    Off-topic:
    The very hard mortar mixes in use today (Portland Cement) might have something to do with this, but I'm not a masonry expert. It would seem to me that a lime mortar (more commonly used with historic masonry) would be more flexible and allow the bricks to move as the tension in the slab rises and falls. But, just a guess.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 07 Jun 2006 at 10:58 AM. Reason: My brain suddenly re-engaged...

  23. #23
    Cyburbian
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    I think the crack is fairly new, becuase I just bought the house in August of last year and checked it over pretty well, as well as hiring an inspector to check everything out. I believe it is because the soil is extremely dry and cracking. Starting to see cracks in the soil. 1/4 -1/3 inch cracks. Watering as I can close to the house to keep a somewhat even amount of moisture around the slab. I'm sticking a scale on it and keeping a close eye on it so I can tell which way it is going. I'm hoping with added moisture (the right amount) it will rise back and seal. I'm still waiting for people to get back in touch with me regarding cost estimates. Not gonna jump on anything quick though unless it all goes to %#@. Then I might!

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Yeah, that's indicative of needing foundation work. Get some estimates, $3-4k sounds in the ballpark. The companies are just busy since this is the dry time of year. My folks just did it to get their house ready to sell. Are you seeing anything inside, cracks in walls or ceilings, or doors sticking?

    This must be pretty recent, most home inspectors check for this closely here, even the real estate agent will walk around and look when you are just viewing the house. Don't see what recourse you would have with the city, everything cracks this way here due to the soils it seems. Not the city's job to watch the maintenance after the initial CO. If you're in Frisco then they are busy enough LOL. Same for insurance, they see it as a maintenance issue, not a catistrophic damaging event. Some home warranties may cover it, but I'm sure around here that would be a ton of money, since nearly every house on a slab eventually needs work.

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