The Cost of a Sinkhole Repair

Sinkholes are one of the natural components in Florida’s geological landscape and can cause extensive property damage. Homeowners should proactively safeguard their home from sinkholes and be aware of the associated costs for a sinkhole repair. Structural engineers perform sinkhole repairs and the cost depends on the extent of damage, square footage of the affected area and measurements of the amount of structure that needs to be remediated.

No two sinkholes are alike, making it difficult to gauge the average cost for a sinkhole repair. A small sinkhole with minimal damage to the structure may cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000. However, sinkholes that cause extensive damage and need a significant amount of work to repair or revive the structure, may be much pricier, costing anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000, or more.

Sinkhole repairs performed by a structural engineer are costly due to the preparation, testing, procedures and materials that go into the investigation. At Crosstown Engineering, engineering professionals perform many types of inspections including: visual sinkhole inspections, geology and hydrogeology of the area, groundwater hydrologic analyses and compaction grouting plans. At the sinkhole site, engineers use these types of investigation methods to determine the cause of the sinkhole as well as possible repair and remediation plans.

During the sinkhole investigation, a structural engineer will evaluate the damage and associated costs based on a variety of factors. These factors include:

  • Property layout
  • Depth of the sinkhole
  • Severity of the remediation method
  • Cost of materials, tools and any other methods that will fix the damage caused by the sink hole
  • Additional fees such as restoration or monitoring

The best way to alleviate costs associated with sinkhole repair is for homeowners to hire professional, experienced engineers to inspect their home if they suspect any damage, no matter how small. Homeowners who ignore small cracks or foundation issues could cause further damage and monetary expenses in the long run.

If you have questions on the cost of a sinkhole inspection in Florida, or would like to speak to a structural engineer regarding the integrity of your home, contact Crosstown Engineering today.


5 Signs Of Home Drainage Problems

Homes in areas susceptible to flooding such as Dallas and other parts of Texas, should be aware of possible drainage issues during the wet season. Water that pools in the yard can damage the landscape, the foundation and even harbor mosquito larvae and other pests. By being aware of warning signs, homeowners can avoid costly repairs from water damage caused by poor drainage.

Crosstown Engineering outlines the five common issues that homeowners should look for that may lead to further drainage problems, if not corrected.

1. Collection of Water Next to the Structure

Water that does not drain tends to pool, especially in low-lying areas near the foundation. Homeowners should be observant and take note if puddles do not evaporate within a few hours. These puddles can ruin the soil bed, cause roots to rot, wood foundation elements to fail, soil “heave” or “settlement” and create mildew. Homeowners may need to re-landscape their garden bed and the slope of their lawn to ensure that water is flowing in the correct direction (away from the foundation).

2. Cracks in the Foundation

Homeowners that notice cracks in the foundation of their home should consider a home inspection. Even hairline cracks can grow bigger overtime and cause severe damage to the home’s structure. A structural engineer can determine the cause of the cracks and offer a solution before further damage occurs.

3. Water Stains on the Walls / Floors

Water stains are most commonly found on the walls and floors of basements or low-lying areas near the home’s foundation. This is caused by water infiltration through walls. When the water stages up next to the home, it can leave white lines from mineral deposits. Homeowners should routinely clean out their gutters and make sure their downspouts are draining rainwater away from the foundation.

4. Mildew in the Attic and Pier and Beam Area

Homes that experience drainage issues may have significant home drainage damage from the moisture, which causes mildew and wood damage due to rot. If mildew is left untreated, it can ruin the structure of the home and cause severe health consequences. Mildew is caused by the collection of moisture from inside the house or crawlspace area. If it is found on the underside of the roof, there is most likely trouble at the ground level 

5. Flaking on Walls

A condition called spalling refers to big patches of the wall flaking off due to mineral deposits. Left behind evaporating water causes these deposits. Whether the pieces are large or small, a foundation inspection by a structural engineer can determine whether the spalling is threatening the integrity of the home’s foundation.

If you suspect your home’s foundation may be in need of a foundation inspection, or if you have questions about water drainage, contact one of the independent foundation engineers at Crosstown Engineering.


3 Types of Drains to Prevent Flood Damage

The rainy season can cause significant flood damage to a home’s foundation due to a lack of drainage systems. Torrential downpours can cause water to pond near the foundation or collect in crawlspace areas and even cause water intrusion and flood damage issues. It is important to remember the soils underneath your home’s foundation can lose their bearing capacity from excess water or even “heave” and push up on the foundation. Over time, this movement can cause the foundation to settle, bend or break. In order to safeguard your home’s foundation from flood damage, abide by the following types of drain systems that can prevent further flood damage or a foundation repair.

1. French Drain

The purpose of a French drain is to direct surface run off water and groundwater away from the home’s foundation or affected area. These types of drains are ideal because they reduce the hydrostatic pressure and remove excess moisture from the soil by collecting surface water and groundwater. French drains are normally installed below the affected area to ensure that the hydrostatic pressure is reduced.

French drains an easy channel for water to flow through because water travels freely through a pipe and empties away from the home. French drains can be installed to alleviate water from pooling in low-lying areas such as a ditch or basement. If water has collected at the surface, a shallow French drain can be installed.

2. Full Gutter System

Full gutter systems can direct storm water to storm water management areas, ponds or collection systems. This allows excess water to be removed from the affected areas. Gutters are ideal for collecting roof runoff and capturing rainwater to direct away from the home’s foundation.

It is important to remember that excess water near the home’s foundation can cause erosion to the soils around the home or even cause them to heave or settle. A low cost solution involves installing downspout extensions to the gutters. This allows the water to be discharged in another area. Extensions are even available that are installed under ground allowing the water to be released as far as the curb.   We recommend discharging the rainwater approximately 4 feet away from the house to a well-drained area.  Never discharge to an area such as a flower bed that is abutting the foundation as it may cause the water to pond in that area.

3. Sump Pump

A small pump is installed in places such as the basement or crawlspace to collect excess water to prevent flooding. Many homes have a sump pit already in place, which channels water to collect in the specific area. Homes that do not already have a sump pit in place can install an isolated pump. It is recommended that a professional install this device in order for the sump pump to operate correctly.

Sump pumps are ideal for preventing large-scale flooding in low-lying areas or areas where there is a high water table. Homeowners should take a proactive approach to potential flooding during the rainy season. Flooding can even cause excessive moisture in the interior of a home resulting in mold and mildew, both causing severe damage and health complications.

If you have concerns about flood damage that could impact your home, please contact Crosstown Engineering today.


Pier and Beam Damage – Dallas

The Situation

A single family 1.5 story wood framed structure with a pier and beam foundation and exterior wood siding experienced flooding.

Adam Green, the CEO of Crosstown Engineering is a licensed storm water expert through the Federal Department of Environmental Protection and the homeowners called Crosstown Engineering to inspect the home.

The heavy rains submerged the pier and beam area in 6” of water. The experts at Crosstown Engineering were unable to gain access to inspect the pier and beam lumber elements. Due to the heavy rainfall, our team suspected that many elements would need to be replaced. The rain also caused the wood to rot and excess moisture in the foundation.

Analysis

Our engineers conducted an inspection, which revealed drywall cracks, uneven windows, water infiltration into the slab area and other signs of foundation movement.

Foundation movement is caused by wet soil. When soils become wet, they become ‘squishy’ and lose their ability to bear the weight of a foundation thus, passing its ‘liquid limit.’ This excessive moisture around the perimeter may have caused the settlement.

The homeowner also reduced runoff onto his property by creating a man-made beam to direct the water away from the property. This tactic was not as efficient because the home was still in need of drainage help.

Solution

The experts at Crosstown Engineering recommended surface drains or inlets for the foundation due to the excessive amount of surface runoff. These types of drains would help collect water from the submerged areas. In particular, French drains are ideal for draining wet soils and surface drains (inlets) are ideal for collecting surface runoff.

We also recommended that the homeowners install a full gutter system and connect it with the new drainage system. The property contains an existing sump pump, which will be used to pump out the collected rainwater.

To direct the storm water away from the home, re-grading around the inlets is recommended. In addition, our team suggested that concrete grade beams be placed to support the perimeter of the foundation.

If you notice signs of foundation damage, due to flooding, contact Crosstown Engineering today for a professional inspection.

 


Flood Damage | Ft. Worth, TX

The Situation

The garage in a Ft. Worth area property experienced leaking between the floor and the cinder block wall bottom, an area called the ‘cove joint.’ The excess water was a result of recent heavy rainfall.

The home was a 2-story wood framed residential structure with a cinder block garage installed into the side of a hill. In order to prevent further flood damage, the homeowner contacted Crosstown Engineering to conduct an inspection.

Analysis

Our structural engineers inspected the garage and determined that the cinder block walls above the crawlspace of the pier and beam area retained water. The hydrostatic pressure of the water forced itself through cracks in the cinder block wall and through the cove joint.

The crawlspace also contained brittle, deteriorated cinder block walls and wet areas next to the wall in the crawlspace. The crawlspace soil was graded towards the wall, the house did not have a fully functioning gutter system and a pool of water was forming near the foundation.

Solution

We recommended an installation of a French drain, which would direct to a water collection barrel with a sump pump to drain the collected water. French drains reduce hydrostatic pressure and remove moisture from the soils by collected surface water. The bottom of the French drain is going to be 18” below the garage floor to ensure that the hydrostatic pressure is reduced.

To reduce infiltration in the home, we recommended an exterior waterproofing membrane to be installed on the crawlspace side of the cinder block wall. Other options to alleviate flooding issues include an interior tile drain system that can be installed along the interior perimeter of the basement. Full gutter systems direct storm water to storm water management areas, ponds or collection systems.

It is important to ensure that homeowners install systems to help direct rain water away from the home’s foundation. Wet soils can cause ‘heave’ if soils are expansive and even settlement if the soil reaches its ‘liquid limit.’

If you notice signs of foundation damage, due to flooding, contact Crosstown Engineering today for a professional inspection.


Flood Drainage – Fort Worth, TX

The Situation

A homeowner living in a 3,000 sq ft one-story wood framed residential structure with a slab foundation and exterior brick veneers noticed significant damage inside their home. These signs included cracks, window separations and shifting of the mortar. The homeowner contacted Crosstown Engineering because the home was recently built and was already experiencing severe damage. Given the well-documented drainage and flooding problems in Texas, it’s a good thing this homeowner brought in a structural engineer.

Analysis

Crosstown Engineering conducted a foundation inspection that revealed sustaining heave damage on the inside due to excessive moisture around the foundation. This resulted in the revelation of hairline cracks, window separations, exterior trim separations between wood pieces, exterior brick cracks and crumbling mortar.

Our structural engineers hypothesized that the builder built the property on dry soil and due to heavy rainfall, the foundation experienced ‘heave.’ Heave is caused when the clay soil interacts with water, making the soil expand and push up on the foundation.

In addition, our foundation engineers observed poor grading around the exterior of the home. The soils were sloped towards the home, which caused standing water to remain near the foundation, even two days after a rainstorm.

Solution

Our structural engineer recommended a yard drainage system with inlets and pipes, which could collect the water runoff and direct it away from the house and onto the adjacent street, away from the foundation. In addition, a full gutter system was recommended for installation. The gutter system will discharge to the newly-designed drainage system and manage roof runoff.

If you notice signs of foundation damage, contact Crosstown Engineering today for a professional inspection and an engineering report.


When to Call Home Foundation Engineer

Homeowners most commonly recognize foundation damage through signs of distress such as cracks, sticky doors and uneven floors. These signs of physical damage usually indicate that the structure of the home has been affected and the home is in need of a foundation repair.

To avoid future damage and protect the home, homeowners should consult a home foundation engineer to inspect the home. Crosstown Engineering recommends homeowners immediately contact a structural engineer to perform the inspection. Structural engineers have far more expertise and knowledge, making them a better choice to hire compared to a contractor. Licensed engineers can determine the proper solution to alleviate a home’s foundation issues.

Crosstown Engineering has outlined three common situations where home buyers should seek out an engineer to inspect their home’s foundation issues.

Physical Damage
Obvious signs that a home’s foundation is physically damaged include:

  • Cracks in the ceiling, wall or floor
  • Sticking doors
  • Leaning cabinets
  • Uneven floors
  • Spaces between the wall and ceiling or floor

Homeowners should remain observant to physical signs of damage and not ignore any, if found. These signs of damage serve as a good indication that there is foundation movement. A structural engineer will be able to inspect the property, identify the timeline and cause of damage and conduct an engineering and repair report.

The Neighborhood
Homeowners interested in purchasing a home should consult the neighbors for any possible issues in their home or the home they are interested in purchasing. Neighbors would most likely know about the home when the previous owners occupied it.

Neighbors may remember if the home had previous foundation damage or if other homes in the neighborhood have experienced foundation problems. If a neighborhood has a considerable amount of homes with foundation damage, it that can be a red flag to a prospective homeowner as damage may spread to the property they are interested in.

Geological Issues
Individuals who are looking for a home should keep in mind geological issues such as sinkholes, active clay soils and the climate of the region in which they are purchasing a home.

Properties in areas that experience dry and arid climates are susceptible to foundation damage due to expansive soil. In Florida and Texas, sinkholes have become a growing problem. Homeowners should remain cautious when purchasing a home and understand the potential risks. If geological issues are common near a certain property, homeowners should consult a structural engineer for an in-depth inspection.

If you have questions about how to fix your home’s foundation problems or to find a structural engineer, contact the professionals at Crosstown Engineering today.


6 Tips to Preventing Home Foundation Problems

Homeowners who neglect home foundation problems can face severe and costly damages to their home. Foundation problems can be caused by a number of factors, including poor pre-construction soil preparation, drainage issues, plumbing leaks, clay shrinkage due to evaporation and/or tree roots withdrawing water from the soil.

To help prevent home foundation problems, Crosstown Engineering suggests six tips.

1. Timed Sprinkler & Foundation Watering Systems

Set up a timer on your foundation (soaker hose) and sprinkler system so that it waters every day at dusk and dawn for 30 minutes. Add extra watering times during the dry months!

2. Drain Water Away From The House

It’s important to avoid collecting near the foundation. The soil can expand dramatically and put stress on your foundation walls. In ground drains can be installed to help move ponding water within depressions or areas that may retain water near the foundation to a discharge point elsewhere. Downspouts can direct rain and roof runoff away from your house as well.

3. Implement Proper Grading

Proper grading ensures water cannot directly reach the base of your house and foundation walls. A good rule of thumb is to grade (or slope) the terrain about 6 inches in 10 feet soil to slope away from your home.

4. Plant Tree & Shrub Roots Far From Your Home

During a dry season, tree and shrub roots will compete with soil for moisture. This can cause your foundation to settle unevenly and form cracks. It is wise for homeowners to plant trees far away from the house.

5. Maintain Moisture Levels

During dry periods, it is especially important to keep the foundation moist in order to avoid the soil from shrinking. Rock beds can be installed to help sprinkler systems water the deeper parts of the soil.

6. Embed The Foundation

Keeping a proper amount of compacted soil around the foundation can help the soils retain their moisture content during the dry months. Try to embed your foundation up to 2” from the top of the foundation slab (2” below the brickline). Mulch can also be used to help retain moisture.

Following these tips above can help alleviate future home foundation problems for your home. At Crosstown Engineering, we are able to conduct foundation inspections, pier plans, site plans and drainage designs. Our engineering consultants study all documentation, perform detailed on-site inquiries and provide observations, facts and conclusions to any foundation issues.

If you have questions about how to fix home foundation problems or finding a structural engineer, contact the professionals at Crosstown Engineering today.

 

Photo Credit: Robin Zebrowski


Drywall Cracks – Carrollton, TX

The Situation

A large commercial structure in Carrollton, TX had experienced some drywall cracks on the interior. The structure is a 2-story wood and steel framed structure with exterior brick, exterior aluminum façade and interior drywall finishing.

Analysis

Upon a careful foundation inspection, our professional engineers determined that there was indeed significant interior drywall cracking. Post foundation inspection, we determined that the foundation had already settled due to the following problems:

  • Building’s structure did not have a foundation watering system
  • Trees were located near the foundation
  • Soil dried out over time 

Solution

Our engineering professionals determined that since the structure is rather heavy, steel piers should are to be used to level the foundation. They also provided a Level B report and inspection.


Types Of Home Foundation Inspections

In recent Insights articles, we’ve discussed the important role a structural engineer’s engineering report plays in assessing you home’s foundation and identifying risks and breakdowns in a home’s structural integrity. In cases where foundation problems are identified, the structural engineer will recommend a remediation plan for your home’s foundation repair. There are many factors that go into the foundation repair plan, but from a high level, there are two typical types of foundation repair: pier and beam foundation repairs and concrete slab leveling (or slabjacking). Here’s a look into each process from a structural engineer’s perspective.

Home foundations are one of two types: pier and beam foundations or concrete slab foundations.

Pier and Beam Foundation Repair

Many older homes have pier and beam foundations, but age doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t as structurally sound as modern homes. In fact, much of your home’s structural integrity relies on the geology and composition of the soil surrounding and beneath it.

In most cases where pier and beam foundation repair is required, the structural engineer will note specific wood members that are damaged or are not functioning as intended. This is usually caused by various issues including instability due to plumbing leaks, water erosion, shrinking soils or other issues that can cause rotting or failed wood members (if your home is a pier and beam structure). Depending on the nature of the damage, a pier and beam foundation repair plan can be very costly, so it’s very important to contact a structural engineer as soon as you notice signs of foundation problems.

Concrete Slab Leveling

Depending on how significant your foundation problems are, concrete leveling may be a viable remediation strategy. In this case, a structural engineer’s report will advise a foundation repair professional on where to install support piers when conducting the concrete leveling. In this identified area, the foundation slab is supported by a concrete or steel pressed pier or a poured concrete pier. Pressed piers are literally pressed into the ground using the weight of the house until the pier system rests on a load bearing stratum of soil and then the house is set upon the piers. Poured piers are created by drilling out a deep long void in the ground, adding rebar, and then a concrete mixture is poured around the rebar to fill the voids (and then the foundation is set upon the cured pier system.

If you’ve recently received a recommendation for foundation report, or if you’ve noticed signs of foundation problems, contact the structural engineers at Crosstown Engineering for a home foundation inspection or engineering report today.