When homeowners hear words like “house leveling” and “foundation repair” they likely assume that they will soon be out a lot of money. Fortunately, the cost often is a less than people think.
Just like fixing a leaking roof, repairing a foundation is necessary in order to preserve and save the value of your home. Leveling a house is not something that you should do yourself. House leveling is not in any way like a typical DIY project. That being said, it certainly does not hurt to understand the basics of how and why a house should be leveled.
What is house leveling?
House leveling is the process of lifting a home back to the position that it was in when it was new. For new homes, slabs are supposed to be no more than 1.5 inches out of level. This standard comes from the American Concrete institute. Once a house moves, the goal of leveling is to get the house back to where it was before it began to move. The vast majority of property owners rarely notice small variations in foundation elevations. Professionals repair foundations to within a reasonable tolerance.
All houses are built on a foundation. Over time, this foundation can sink, settle, crack, or heave. There are numerous reasons why this may happen. Some common causes are issues with the soil, too much moisture, or a foundation that was not done properly from the beginning.
House leveling or foundation repair is arguably one of the most important repairs a home will ever need. Every single pound of your house’s weight sits on the foundation. It goes without saying that houses are quite heavy. The foundation must be properly designed and installed. Any issues, even the slightest, can cause damage and devalue your home.
Does my house need leveling or foundation repair?
It is best to request a quote from the pros, however, there are signs that you can look for. Below are a few key points to look for:
- Cracks in your walls or ceilings
- Cracks on the outside of your home, especially noticeable on bricks or stone work that make up the outside walls of most houses
- Doors are sticking and not shutting or opening properly
- Your floors seem to sag or dip. They may even feel softer than they should normally feel
- When facing your house from the outside, you can visibly see that it looks uneven
There are three basic types of home foundations. The two main types are Pier & Beam and Slab (or Concrete Slab) foundations. For foundation repair in Dallas and throughout Texas, the third type of foundation is not common, and that is the Basement Foundation.
A slab foundation is made mostly of concrete. It is a large sheet of concrete that is poured directly on the ground. Standard slabs are about 4″-6″ thick. To make up for weight around the perimeter of the house, the outer parts of the slab are typically 24“ to 36” deep. The deep part of the slab is called a beam. To stiffen the center of a slab, beams crisscross the middle in a pattern like a waffle. The interior beams are often 10 to 14 feet apart. Foundations are typically enforced with post tension cables or steel rods called rebar.
Pier & Beam
There are three main components to a Pier & Beam Foundation. First, a concrete foundation beam is built around the entire perimeter of the house. Second, concrete pads or columns are installed inside of the perimeter beam. The columns or pads are placed on 8 to 10 foot centers. Third, wood beams are placed on the interior columns or pads and on the perimeter beam.
Because pier and beam is more costly to build than a slab, pier and beam is typically used for custom homes or for situations where a home needs to high off of the ground (such as a flood plain).
Block & Base Alternative: There is an alternate style of Pier and Beam that is also known as Block and Base. This foundation is the same as above, except there is no concrete foundation beam around the perimeter. This is best suited for lighter homes that do not have brick, stone, or stucco walls.
How are houses leveled?
The process of leveling a house differs based on the foundation type. Each foundation type has numerous methods for repair and to bring the foundation to within tolerance for being level. There are different methods used based on why the foundation needs repair. Regardless of the method used, the same end goal is achieved: a level foundation; more accurately a repaired foundation.
Pier & Beam Foundation Leveling: Different situations call for different tools. A Pier & Beam Foundation can be repaired and leveled by installing steel pilings or concrete pilings under key locations under the concrete perimeter beam. The interior is adjusted by adding or removing shims placed on top of the interior pads or columns. Sometimes movement is caused by damaged or improperly installed wood. Advanced Foundation Repair considers this type of damage in our repair.
Concrete Slab Foundation Leveling: We again have different tools to solve different problems. Areas around the home may be excavated so that it is possible to install concrete piers, concrete pilings, or steel pilings. Older methods named Mudjacking or Slabjacking are sometimes confused with these repairs. To prevent or reduce the chances of soils swelling, soil injections can be used.
Pro-Lift System: Advanced Foundation Repair pioneered the Pro-Lift system. Nearly 25 years later Pro-lift continues as the most reliable foundation repair system in Texas with the fewest required warranty repairs.
Advanced Foundation Repair serves the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and other locations throughout Texas. Request a FREE quote from experts who are familiar with Texas soil!