There’s more to stabilizing a sinking foundation than driving piers down into the ground. Multiple piers will likely be used to ensure your building’s foundation gets adequate support. After each pier is installed, benchmarking has to be done. This allows for future inspection and ensures piers continue to function properly in stabilizing your home.
Benchmarking is an important step in repairing a settling foundation and sets the tone for future foundation inspections. Ignore or overlook it and you might have problems some years down the road. Let’s take a closer look at benchmarking, how it’s done, and why it matters in foundation repair.
Understanding Foundation Settlement
You probably know that homes settle with time, but don’t understand why the foundation needs support. Settlement is the major reason why contractors have to stabilize the foundation. Three of the top contributing factors include:
Poor compaction: When the builder fails to tamp down soil properly, it will start sinking as it’s unable to bear the weight of your home.
Drying and shrinking soil: Soils dry up and shrink in summer and this creates voids that the foundation settles into.
Wetness and softening soil: Whenever there’s a drought, you can expect cracks to form under your foundation. These openings will let water in during heavy rains, leading to wetting and softening of foundation soil. Such soils are typically soft, loose, and unable to hold your home’s weight.
Engineers and inspectors usually follow the guidelines set out by the American Society of Civil Engineers when addressing settlement issues. These guidelines provide them with a standard way of examining foundations. Evaluations do factor a couple of things such as localized foundation deflection and its overall tilt.
Have a Sinking Foundation?
Like every homeowner who’s experiencing settling for the first time, you may start noticing that your doors are sticking and your floors are becoming uneven. Cracks may also appear on your brick or drywall. On top of this, gaps may form around your doors and windows, and your kitchen countertops and cabinets may also pull away from the wall.
Best Fix for Settling Foundation
There are almost several ways to bolster a shifting foundation. But nearly all of them are ineffective. At Tar Heel Basement Systems, we recommend installing foundation piers, typically push piers. These steel tubes are driven into the ground until they encounter the bedrock’s resistance. Here’s how we set them up.
- The ground is excavated to expose your footings.
- The footing is notched so the pier bracket can have somewhere to rest.
- A strong steel bracket is fastened to your footings. This enables piers to go down straight.
- Starter tubes and sleeves are driven down the bracket before drive assembly commences.
- Pier sections are carefully pressed through the external sleeve.
- Finally, the piers are driven deep into the ground.
Piers are installed one at a time until your home is fully stabilized.
Does Benchmarking Matter?
Several years ago, contractors struggled to stabilize settling foundations using piers. Why? They didn’t have benchmarks that would aid them with future installations or repairs. Not only did repairs take long, but they were ineffective because they didn’t know whether a fix had worked or not. Should your foundation need piering or otherwise repaired again in the future, the contractor will know the right depth and location thanks to benchmarking.
How to Benchmark a Foundation
It’s natural for homeowners to be curious about anything that touches on their home’s structural integrity, especially the foundation, on which the entire structure rests. After all, they spent lots of cash and time to see their home investments take shape. Here’s how benchmarking is done:
- Once all piers have been installed during a piering project and the home has been stabilized, the installers place benchmarks above each pier, one at a time.
- A laser level is set up and tiny rivers driven into the foundation.
- Installers will use them to perform future inspections, ensuring piers are working just fine.
Is Benchmarking a Simple Job?
Benchmarking isn’t a typical DIY job that you could do with a kit. It needs a professional contractor with the necessary experience.
If you need help in determining the type and depth of foundation piers, contact Tar Heel Basement Systems for a free foundation repair inspection and repair quote. Our experts will help address your foundation settlement issues with the right piering solution to set your home up for success.