The Situation

Homeowners in a single-family home in Plano, Texas noticed several physical signs of foundation damage, including: ceiling cracks, floor cracks, broken windows and damaged door frames. Given the apparent severity of the damage, the homeowners called Crosstown Engineering for a home inspection.

Analysis

Upon initial inspection of this home, our team evaluated the apparent physical damage and found that home’s interior contained leaning windows and door frames that were on the brink of collapse.

In order to determine the severity of the damage, our structural engineers conducted a home foundation inspection—which includes an examination of the interior and exterior of the home, identification of the timeline and cause of the damage, an engineering report, and repair plan.

During the inspection, our engineers determined that the home’s front door to the back featured a 1-foot difference in elevation. In perspective, a healthy home features a 1.5 inch overall difference in elevation with maximum slopes of about 0.5 inches to 10 feet.

These signs of physical damage and the difference in floor elevation are common in Plano, Texas due to the Blackland Prairie’s clay soils, which can cause foundation movement, foundation damage, ceiling and wall cracks.

In this case, the difference in elevation and structural damage occurred because the home was built on a hill and experienced “slope creep.” Creep refers to the slow downward progression of soil as it travels down a low-grade slope. The term also refers to the disturbance of soil due to pressure and stress caused by gravity.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of a slope creep. A few potential causes include:

  • Expansion of clay which pushes the foundation downhill due to lateral and normal forces
  • Contraction which consolidates the soil to a new position causing settlement
  • Movement of foundation over time which results in a new angle slab positioning itself on the structure of the home

Solution

With guidance from a professional engineer, and a detailed repair plan, it is possible to protect and repair a foundation that has undergone a “slope creep.” Pier installation is one solution that improves elevation loss and bears the foundation on a more stable structure. In this case, many piers were installed due to the extent of damage to the home. If the structural damage is caught early enough, it will not require such an extensive level of repair.

Engineers that specialize in damage forensics have far more expertise and knowledge, making them a better choice to hire compared to a contractor. Licensed professional engineers can determine the proper solution to alleviate your home’s foundation issues. If you notice signs of foundation movement, contact Crosstown Engineering for a professional inspection and an engineering report today.