For a builder or repairman, it is vital to understand the specific foundation type and the subtle details that go into its damage and repair processes. The mechanisms of concrete construction are mysterious to most who do not work in the field. In fact, these processes can even confuse some repair companies who do work in the field – which might explain why their solutions don’t seem to hold up.
Why trust this article? Because James Belville understands all of the structural components of concrete foundations. He understands them more deeply than anyone else in the business. That experience and understanding allows for an unmatched level of quality in all of Concrete Repairman’s services. He sees through the snake oil salesmen and cheap scientific solutions that others offer. He also notices the repair companies who make seemingly acceptable repairs that don’t last. If you are considering a repair or an estimate, even if you read nothing else in this article, call and talk to James and Tiffany at Concrete Repairman LLC – they are committed to rising above all the others in terms of quality, professionalism and value.
James Belville’s company, Concrete Repairman LLC, is the only choice for a responsible home or property owner, because they are the only company with a developed understanding of why damage occurs and what repairs are needed to stop it.
The first step to repairing a damaged foundation is identifying the problem. The first sign of a foundation problem might occur when a homeowner or property manager notices defects, such as an interior floor that is heaved in one area and/or sunken in another. This kind of damage can occurs with stem wall, and monolithic foundations.
Stem wall foundations are the most likely type of construction to require Concrete Repairman’s services, because they are both the least expensive and the least stable kind, as well as the most popular in Arizona. This is probably because builders assume low levels of moisture in the soil of the area. Due to the state’s arid desert climate, and not a freeze and thaw climate, only shallow stem wall footings are only required to go down to undisturbed soil. Because the walls of this foundation are only 18 – 24 inches deep, the moisture content of the soil must remain at low levels. When moisture builds up around the stem wall footing and the substrate soil on which the foundation rests, the soil can shift and move under the weight of the vertical walls, and roof of a home, significantly enough to cause upward heaving in the interior sections. This leads to uneven interior floors, broken tile, interior and exterior cracks, and dangerous structural instability.
When heaved cracks occur in a floor, slab stitching is a necessary and economical way to fix, and stabilize floors.
In this scenario, the first step for James and his team is to grind the cracked floor down to an even and natural elevation profile.
Next, two saw cuts are made, which measure approximately two inches apart and 2 inches in depth.
A patch material is used to fill the deepest area, and then a 2-component structural epoxy material is poured into the cracks and cuts to fill them up to 50 percent volume.
Next, sections of #4 rebar are installed into the stitching, and the rest of the gap is filled with more structural epoxy.
This solution will ultimately stabilize the two sections of concrete that had broken away from each other. In some cases, if the floor heaves to a degree that the interior floor slopes toward the wall, it is necessary to grind sections of the floor, which opens the pores of the surface to allow proper attachment of primer. Finally a floor-leveling compound is applied to restore the foundation’s original elevation. This will eliminate the need to use expensive helical piers to raise the home.
If a residential or commercial building’s floor is heaved on the inside, it’s likely that damage appears on the base of the foundation outside as well. We see this damage in the form of vertical cracks in the middle sections of the exterior foundation walls. These vertical cracks occur because the stem wall, as a horizontal piece, becomes articulated, or moves downward, toward a rainbow shape. As the interior floor heaves upward, the stem wall along an outside perimeter is forced to heave as well, and when it bows and articulates to the highest tension, vertical cracks occur to relieve the vertical stress. This exterior vertical cracking can occur on the edge of any type of concrete foundation. In monolithic foundations, the exterior cracks translate directly to damage in the interior.
The main problem with monolithic and post-tension monolithic foundations are caused by the fact that the footing area is very shallow – only 14 inches in most cases. This makes them more prone to undermining, or erosion of the grade that holds up the foundation. It is also more crucial with these types of foundations to provide proper water removal and ground grading in order to prevent water from accessing those areas. The substrate level of soil, which lies directly below the very shallow footing of this type of foundation, is more susceptible to moisture that moves the soil and allows the perimeter of the foundation to change shape. Post-tensioning adds strength, but under certain conditions, cracking still occurs as a result of the shallow footing and vertical forces of gravity.
If a vertical crack reaches the width of a U.S. nickel, or 3/32 of an inch, it is necessary to fill, waterproof, and paint over them. In most cases where multiple vertical cracks are seen, Concrete Repairman will repair the entire vertical stem wall or mono footing, of that section, in order to stop the moisture from moving inside to the interior floor. While other Arizona companies make similar repairs, James’s method is unmatched, because he does what is necessary to assure a lasting repair. Concrete Repairman is the only foundation repair company that goes all the way down to the base of the stem wall to seal and paint over repairs. And he doesn’t do this just to drive up the price and spend more time playing in the dirt – he does it because he knows that the original reason for the damage is water, and that prevention is better than another “cure.”
Water vapor is dangerous. If it invades a foundation, it can come up through the interior floor and cause different kinds of problems, whether from moisture in the soil or efflorescent salt deposits which evaporation leaves behind. These can include mold in wood flooring, forceful removal of tile from its thinset, and delamination of stained concrete flooring and sealers.
Because they understand how much damage water can cause in a home, Concrete Repairman recommends more than just patching and sealing. James always recommends proper rain gutters and effective exterior grading, in order to keep soil dry and prevent invading moisture that is proven to cause havoc upon foundations of all types.
One specific problem that occurs in all foundation types is called spalling. Spalling happens as a result of water gathering at the base of the foundation vertical wall. The paint line on a foundation only goes down to the level of the soil, but moisture travels deeper. When atmospheric conditions raise the temperature, evaporative moisture wicks up the exterior side, between the paint and sealant, and into the porous texture of the concrete surface. When this moisture goes upward and escapes, it leaves behind efflorescent salt deposits that deteriorate the concrete and delaminate the paint. The visible damage on the vertical face of footing walls is called spalling, which creates holes and chips. This damage must be patched, waterproofed, and painted all the way down, below the soil saturation of moisture.
If the moisture gets deep enough, it reaches the steel rebar, and the oxidation process is activated. The oxidized steel begins to expand, up to five times its diameter, and will break out through the concrete, causing a horizontal crack along the vertical face of the stem wall. Because of the low-voltage electricity present as a result of oxidation, the deterioration continues to travel to the left and right of the original damage. As a result, if the electrolysis is not stopped, the cracks will grow in length and diameter, creating more damage.
The only way to stop this electrical drive is to remove all of the the affected concrete, reach the affected oxidized steel, and treat it with a rust inhibitor. Because moisture is the reason for the damage, it is likely in these cases that moisture is present on the interior side of a damaged stem wall. For this reason, repair companies must apply a two-part water-stop epoxy before moving on to any patch work. If the water-stop material, which is also a patch primer, is not applied, any patchwork can be delaminated and pushed off.
It would be insane – or at least foolish – to repair a damaged foundation while giving no thought to the prevention of future damage. Because James Belville knows that water is the cause of this damage, he understands that he must create a waterproof barrier on the outside surface. Unlike any other company’s solution in Arizona, Concrete Repairman excavates the soil around the stem wall, all the way down to the base, or support footing, waterproofs the entire face of the stem wall, monolithic, or post tension foundation from top to bottom, and repaints. This is the only way to assure that no more water vapor or salt efflorescence can invade the surface and cause damage again.
One reason that James Belville’s competitors can’t match his repairs is these contractors fail to accurately diagnose the cause of the issues, or understanding of the foundation problems. When understanding the cause of foundation damage, it’s important to remember that water is usually the single most significant part of the initial problem. The problem, almost all cases seen by Concrete Repairman, is not something called “expansive soil” – a phenomenon that some contractors around Phoenix still seem to wrongly assume.
Why call James Belville at Concrete Repairman LLC? Because he understands these problems and solutions better than anyone else. James wants to get the job done right the first time, which means creating a lasting repair in a way that is comprehensive of the conditions that could cause future damage. That’s why along with all of his repairs, James recommends 6-inch, aluminum rain gutters with downspout extensions, along with grading of the ground. This is the best way to prevent future damage and the need for more repairs.
If a repair is needed, the only sensible choice is James Belville at Concrete Repairman LLC; the only company that will fully excavate soil, waterproof and paint their patchwork all the way down, and improve the resilience of foundational landscaping by using new dirt to improve water removal around the house. He is the only repairman who offers a developed understanding, a tactical approach, and complete, lasting repairs. He is the only one to call, so call today.