What Causes Foundation Walls to Fall?
The basement is where the majority of foundation walls are placed. For many, the basement is not an area that is frequently visited. Because of that, if the walls in your basement start to fall, you may not realize the issue until it’s too late.
Generally, walls buckle when more pressure is placed on them than they’re able to withstand. Several factors will affect the stability of a foundation wall, most of which are out of your control. Issues may include:
Vibrations from earthquakes or machinery being used in the area may cause issues with your foundation. When an earthquake hits, the earth’s motion from side to side can result in cracks appearing in the walls and along the foundation’s flooring. These cracks then weaken the walls and may result in them toppling over.
Vibrations may also affect the soil itself, which your foundation relies on for stability. As the vibrations rattle out, they will break up the soil, causing the ground to become loose. Since your foundation has the entire weight of your home bearing down on it, if it’s faced with this uneven footing, it will experience unnecessary weight at key places. This may be along your walls, floor, or even the basement ceiling.
- Soil Expansion
As the soil expands, it adds pressure to the foundation walls, which may fall or sink as a result. In general, the earth expands and contracts when there is a serious change in temperature. Hot weather will cause swelling, while cold weather will cause shrinkage. As the soil fluctuates between the two, your walls have to deal with that pressure and sudden lack of structure.
Soil may also change because of moisture levels, becoming tight and powdery or loose and wet. For example, when the water levels are high, the soil will expand. When there is less moisture, the ground will contract. The soil’s inconsistency creates gaps between the soil and the wall, which leads to bowing, tilting, and cracking. If these issues go unrepaired, then the wall can eventually fall over.
Soil expansion underneath the foundation of the home will cause a similar issue for the stability of your walls. A shift in the home’s foundation will make it uneven, placing unnecessary pressure on the support beams. In the worst case, this may even cause wall movement. That will weaken the foundation’s overall integrity, resulting in a wall falling over.
- Overloading The Wall
Foundation walls are load-bearing and already under pressure from the weight of the home. If you then place more weight on the structure, it may be unable to take it, instead falling over, buckling inward, or manifesting cracks.
Extra weight can come from shelving, hanging of tools, and other objects. When walls are overloaded, it creates a pulling effect on the support beams and drywall. Gravity is already pulling the wall away from the soil, as it is under pressure, so the added weight only makes this worse.
What Causes Foundation Settlement?
When a home is built, it must be placed on a layer of soil that can support it. If something happens that makes the soil change, the home is suddenly responsible for managing its own weight. This causes the foundation to settle, and if the sudden change is too much, it can result in:
- A sunken foundation
- Cracked foundation slabs
- Uneven floors throughout the home
Numerous factors can cause the earth to settle, and bring your foundation along with it. In all of these cases, a helical pier system can help brace your home so it can resist the extra pressure, weight, and shifting. Here are the most common causes of settlement, so you know when a helical pier system is a wise investment.
Extreme weather will cause a change in the integrity of the soil. Heavy rainfall will result in water sinking down into the earth, making it damp and malleable. Likewise, an especially hot summer will dry out the ground and cause the soil to tighten up, retracting away from the walls of your foundation.
These shifts in the soil consistency mean it moves under the weight of the home. As it does so, it has a negative effect on the foundation’s stability.
- Poorly Compacted Fill Soil
When most homes are built, it involves excavating the soil to build the foundation. This earth is then backfilled and compacted before the foundation is completely finished. If the house is built with a basement, the soil that was removed is then spread around the foundation walls.
If the disturbed soil below the foundation of a home is not appropriately compacted, it is more likely to be impacted by washout, dry out, and erosion. It will also be more likely to expand and contract with the changing weather. The easier it is for the ground to shift, the more likely settlement will occur.
Tree roots and shrubbery may cause the foundation of a home to settle. The roots will sap moisture from the earth under the house, causing the soil to contract. This will become even more prominent during droughts and hot summers when the earth is already drying out and shifting.
Likewise, tree roots may cause damage all on their own. It is not uncommon for trees to completely break through a foundation wall, causing significant damage. Waterproofing measures, basement finishing, and flooring can all be disrupted. That makes it smart to exercise caution when planting trees, but also to reinforce your basement against all types of outside pressure.
How Can Helical Piers Stabilize Settling Foundations or Falling Walls?
A helical pier system works to provide your foundation with the extra reinforcement it needs. This is accomplished by taking advantage of the more compact, solid, and resilient earth deep beneath your foundation. This pier system is unique since it works like a corkscrew. It will drill into the ground and work to prevent any movement.
What is a Helical Pier System?
A helical pier system is a type of equipment used for deep foundation repair. It’s come to the rescue for many homeowners across the country, working to fix a broken or damaged foundation. Its design is unique, inspired by screw-pie lighthouses that were constructed in the 1830s by Alexander Mitchell, an English engineer. Whether above ground or below, its unique corkscrew shape helps it remain stable and resistant to the effects of weather.
Helical piers first showed up in the United States in 1838. Here, they were used to construct the Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse in Delaware Bay. In the 1950s, electrical power industry towers incorporated the use of helical piers in their construction. In the modern age, they have spread throughout residential and commercial buildings to help stabilize the places we live and work, no matter the soil they’re built on.
Installation Of A Helical Pier System
A helical pier system is designed to reinforce the integrity of your load-bearing foundation, giving it the additional structure and strength it needs to withstand everyday pressure. It also stabilizes the walls against surprise changes, like soil washout, extreme weather, or hydrostatic pressure. This can prevent your home from falling or settling too hard, which might seriously damage your foundation.
A helical pier system is ideal to use when working on a smaller area, such as a porch or deck. It digs into the deeper, more stable layers of the earth and anchors in place, using more of the soil to reinforce your home. As such, there’s less danger of shifting soils, strong winds, or moisture causing your foundation to lose its footing.
Other foundation issues that can be repaired by a helical pier system are:
- Foundation cracks
- Wall cracks
- Bowing walls
- Weak foundations
Helical Pier Systems vs. Other Pier Systems
Helical piers are the first choice for smaller buildings or even structures that attach to the home, such as patios or decks. That’s because:
- Helical piers can be installed straight down or at an angle, ideal for tight spaces.
- The piers require very little space to be installed.
- No need for heavy machinery, as all installation materials are portable.
With that said, that’s not the only system you can use. An expert will be able to provide a free inspection of your home and the foundation issues you’re experiencing. With their training and insight, they can then make a suggestion on which system is best to suit your home, your foundation damage, and your budget. That may include helical pier systems, but also:
- Push pier systems
- Slab repair systems
Stabilizing, Falling Or Settling Foundations
The only thing worse than having your foundation falling or settling is also having your landscape torn apart. Many of the products that are used to repair foundations require the entire yard to be ripped up or damaged so piers can be installed. Of course, any homeowner will want their repairs to be effective but also non-invasive. Luckily, the helical pier system aims to fulfill both needs.
- Helical Pier Systems Take Up Limited Space
The helical pier system needs very little space to be installed. In some cases, this may be no larger than a closet. A good foundation expert will be considerate of your home and its surrounding areas. With that in mind, our system is designed to be minimally disruptive, all without sacrificing the efficiency of the piers.
When installed outdoors, the pier head is screwed directly into the soil without removing any of the topsoil. Inside, the only preparation needed is to remove the concrete layer of the foundation. This provides access to the earth beneath but can be easily replaced. Once the piers are correctly anchored, a foundation expert can neatly repair any traces left behind.
- Helical Piers Drill Down Directly Or At An Angle
Of course, every home has its own aesthetic, design, and limitations. A helical pier system is respectful of that. A professional can evaluate if your foundation, basement, or soil should have the piers drilled straight down or at an angle. Rather than making your home conform to the piers, they conform to your needs. This is done without sacrificing the structural integrity or strength of the system.
This type of system is not only a quick install but can also restore the value of your property. Sinking and settling foundations can make a home difficult to sell. An intrusive anchor system may detract from the home’s overall value. With helical piers, you can regain the home’s structural integrity while also keeping the repairs from being an eyesore.
One of the best advantages of a helical pier system is the speed of its installation. Because it’s minimally invasive and can be drilled at an angle, there is no need to remove any earth before installation begins. As a plus, IBA uses equipment that is all portable. That ensures a professional from IBA can get right to work, rather than taking up more of your time.
- Permanent Solution For Foundation Issues
The helical pier is a permanent solution to your foundation issues. The corrosion-proof material means that once installed, the equipment won’t require maintenance. The pin shaft’s round shape makes it the most effective type of anchoring in the business, so it will hold a position for years to come.
The helical pier system has also been tried and tested. It’s approved as one of the country’s best home foundation repair solutions. The International Code Council has tested our helical piers throughout to ensure they can not only fulfill your needs but strictly adhere to safety standards.
- Repairing Old Damage
The installation of a helical pier system helps relieve pressure on your foundation. This can lift a sinking foundation and halt further damage. Since it returns the foundation to its original position, it can reverse bowing or tilting walls. That means you’re not only preventing future issues; you’re also restoring your basement and foundation to their original state.
Once the foundation has been repaired, this will stop any floor cracks from reappearing, prevent floors from being uneven, and keep gaps from appearing in the home. All of these will make the house safer and stronger and raise the property value.
Use Innovative Basement Authority to Repair Your Falling Walls and Settling Foundation
Settling or sinking foundations can dramatically impact the value of your home. Not only will it make your basement and walls unsafe, but it can result in unsightly cracks and gaps. Over time, pests and mold will infest your home, causing more issues. Luckily, you can bring this all to a halt once you book a free inspection from one of our trained experts.
We understand that your time is valuable, and peace of mind is all the more important when dealing with foundation issues. We’re happy to assess your property, locate any underlying issues in your foundation, and help you pick the right solution. The IBA team of experts will complete all repairs to the highest standards, ensuring you’re 100% satisfied before declaring the work is done.