The Situation

Crosstown Engineering recently visited a home in Caddo Mills, TX with some serious foundation issues. Walking up to the home, we first noticed how significantly active the clay was. There were huge clay shrinkage cracks in the front yard were about 10 feet in length in some areas. Clay shrinks when its moisture content is low and can recede, crack, shrink and even move laterally. David, Crosstown Engineering’s lead inspector, could place his elevation rod nearly 2 feet into a clay crack.

structural engineer, foundation inspection, home foundation

Once we entered the home, we didn’t notice any damage initially. However, the homeowner walked us to the southwestern portion of the house where they noticed some wall cracks. We knew right away that something was wrong, because you could feel slopes in the flooring as you walked around on the west side of the home.

We used a Ziplevel 2000 to take elevation readings throughout the home on the west side to inspect and assess what may be going on with the floor slab. You can see the elevation map/pier plan in the downloadable PDF to the right.

Analysis

Based on the crack patterns and the floor elevation survey, we decided that piers were necessary to support the sloping floor slab on the southwest and west side of the home where the load bearing walls are present. This is not unusual for the Dallas Metroplex, in fact, it’s common for the perimeter of foundations to slump when the moisture content lessens due to dry weather, evaporation, vegetation near the foundation or abnormally low water table levels. The moisture of the soils on the interior of the home aren’t as susceptible to drying-out because the moisture is trapped by the foundation. However, time, trees and other factors may cause soils to dry out beneath the slab.

Solution

As identified in the pier plan, we decided to pier the entire western and southwestern perimeters. We added one pier on the interior of the slab for additional foundation support. This will prevent sagging of the floor slab and also help the installer to recover elevation loss.

This is a reasonable pier plan, but does not guarantee the home won’t exhibit future damage.  The soils in Texas are highly active, making additional problems highly likely. While we can’t completely eliminate the risk of further damage, taking this proactive approach will limit risk in the future. Proper site grading and drainage, foundation embedment, gutter systems, soaker hose systems and conservative vegetation placement is crucial to the safety of your home foundation.

Crosstown Engineering provides structural engineering foundation inspections anywhere within 100 miles of Dallas. We provide professional foundation repair pier plans, structural foundation inspection reports and evaluations by licensed professional engineers.