A service oriented Foundation Repair Company

Top 5 Foundation Repair Problems and Solutions

The top 5 foundation repair issues in the Atlanta area are:

  1. Bowing or Leaning Basement Walls
  2. Center Garage Column Settlement
  3. Leaning Chimneys
  4. Front Porches or Front Stoop Settlement
  5. Rear Corner of House Settlement
The top 5 may change by city due to soil conditions and weather conditions.  For instance – we do not have expansive soils for the most part in Atlanta.  While many people like to think our clays swell when they get wet and shrink when they dry out – that’s just not the case in the Atlanta area.   For the above foundation problems lets look at the most common solutions.
1) Bowing or Leaning Basement Walls
Bowing or Leaning basement walls often happen due to hydrostatic water pressure or poor wall design.  In either case the most commonly used repair methods are: Helical Tieback Anchors, Carbon Fiber Reinforcement, Soldier Beams and Plate Anchors.  For more in depth information about these repairs check out our page on Basement Wall Repair Methods.

2) Center Garage Column Settlement

Center columns or “Garage Columns” are the center posts between a two car garage.  Often this column has a significant load on it due to the framing over the garage as well as the two door openings.  When this column settles it most often creates cracking in the brick above the column or cracking on either side of the garage.  Sometimes you can see the garage “smiling” at you.  In this case the most common repair is by install 1 or 2 helical piers under the garage column footing (this footing is commonly the garage floor itself).  In this way you can stabilize and/or lift the column back to where it needs to be.  For more on this post about cracks above garage doors.

3) Leaning Chimneys

Chimneys will lean in one of two main directions.  They either lean over the house or away from the house.  If your chimney is leaning over the house this is likely a structural issue and you should get a structural engineer or good structural contractor/mason involved.  When the chimney is leaning away from the house this is likely a foundation issue.  Chimneys are often built outside of the normal foundation of a home or built above the lowest level of a foundation (think basement house with a fireplace on the first floor).  In these cases the weight of the brick on the exterior of the chimney can cause excessive movement to occur.  As the chimney leans it becomes less stable – often causing it move faster.  The solution is installing 2 resistance (or sometimes helical) piers to support this excess load on the outside of the footing.  Often when installing these piers we can lift the chimney and push it back towards the house.

4) Front Porches or Front Stoop Settlement

Front porches and Front Stoops are often built on the front of house with a basement.  In this case the foundation for the stoop or porch is well above the foundation of the basement.  The backfilled soils are rarely compacted as they should be to support loading (usually the block or poured foundation wall was just built and could become unstable during the backfill).  In these cases the stoops and porches settle on these poor soils.  The solution can either be to install helical piers to support the foundation, mudjack the stoop, pressure grout the soils, remove/replace the foundation with new deeper foundation or inject with foam (a lightweight product used in many fill situations).

5) Rear Corner of House Settlement

Just with chimneys and with front porches – rear corners of a home are often on the worst soil.  Sometimes the builder of the lot adds soils to the back of the lot to make a level foundation.  Other times water can pool around the corners reducing the soil bearing capacity.  In either case over time the foundation will give way under the weight of the structure and begin to settle.  Often this is noticed by stair step cracks in the brick, cracks in poured basement walls or the sheetrock cracking that occurs while the house is settling.  While traditional concrete underpinning (pouring concrete under a settling foundation) can work, it’s not the best long term method of restoration.  A series of helical or resistance piers spaced 4-7ft on center across the affected area will provide both stabilization and often lift/restoration of the foundation.

Jonathan Maguire is the Owner and Systems Engineer for Foundation Worx, LLC. Atlanta's full service foundation repair company.

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