FOUNDATION FAILURES by TYPE & MATERIAL - CONTENTS: Foundation defects of occurrence: things that happen that cause damage to building foundation walls or slabs. Types of foundation damage organized by foundation materials. Poured Concrete Foundation Defects listed, described & explained. Pre-Cast Concrete Foundation Defects listed, described & explained. Stone Foundation Defects, Brick Foundation Defects, Masonry block Defects listed, described & explained. Wood Foundation Defects listed, described & explained. Photographs of foundation damage patterns and types
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This article explains foundation defects of occurrence:
Foundation failures due to an outside force, organized by foundation type and material of construction such as
concrete, masonry block, brick, stone, wood foundation failures and how each foundation material will show
damage due to impact, settlement, frost or water damage, and other causes.
Our page top photo shows significant settlement cracking in a two year old poured concrete foundation. Cracks occurred following blasting at an adjoining construction site. Steel reinforcement may also have been omitted from this wall.
Types of foundation cracks, crack patterns, differences in the meaning of cracks in different foundation materials, site conditions, building history,
and other evidence of building movement and damage are described to
assist in recognizing foundation defects and to help the inspector separate cosmetic or low-risk conditions from
those likely to be important and potentially costly to repair.
List of foundation failures of occurrence - things happening to the foundation
Foundation inspectors and engineers need to agree on what terms are used to describe various foundation conditions. Articles throughout this website use and illustrate the foundation damage or failure terms listed below.
Backfill height too high or premature backfill causing foundation buckling, leaning, or collapse
Building relocation or set damage foundation crack or damage during building set, often impact damage
Bulging foundation walls & bulging cracks - the center of the foundation wall arcs inwards towards the building; if the foundation materials are masonry block, brick or stone there will be horizontal cracks, most extreme at the inner-most point of bulging. See BULGE or LEAN MEASUREMENTS.
Concentrated loads or point loads and their characteristic appearance as foundation damage
Equipment damage (backfill, vehicles) causing foundation wall buckling, breaks, or leaning; equipment striking a building can also result in impact damage
Excessive loading leading to foundation fractures (frost heaves can produce similar damage)
Improper materials (soft brick, below grade) causing settlement, differential settlement, leaning, or tipping of foundation walls
Interior cracks in buildings may be traced to foundation movement or damage
Leaning or tipping foundation wall cracks & angles - the wall is said to be "rotating" or leaning inwards or outwards from an axis point that is usually the wall footing
Movement or Foundation Damage indicators or signs can show up both in the foundation and as accentuated cracks higher in the building's walls or as opening/closing problems at windows or doors
Settlement cracks in a foundation or masonry wall are due to differential settlement of the wall footings, poor original construction, water, nearby blasting operations
Settlement cracks in a foundation may be traced to uniform or differential movement
Shallow/absent/undermined/cut footings, settlement & frost damage causing settlement, differential settlement, leaning, or tipping of foundation walls
Shrinkage cracks: in concrete, concrete block, are usually not a structural concern, but are a possible point of water or radon entry
Soil preparation errors - failure to compact soils, especially where foundations are constructed on fill, can lead to settling footings & slabs
Note: use of plumb lines, levels, laser levels, & simple measurements of amount by which a wall is out of level or plumb, or of crack widths
and patterns are beyond ASHI Scope but are common simple tools and procedures used by masons, carpenters, builders, as well as foundation
experts and engineers.
Articles that provide detail for each type of foundation and foundation material demonstrate that each foundation material and type has its own, sometimes unique, signs of damage and failure. For example, a horizontal crack in one type of foundation material may be much more serious than in another. Just below are some articles that offer additional foundation damage analysis methods.
FOUNDATION CRACK DICTIONARY discusses detail the process of evaluating foundation cracks and signs of foundation damage by examining the crack size, shape, pattern, and location.
FOUNDATION FAILURES by TYPE & MATERIAL describes the types of foundation damage, cracks, leaks, or other defects associated with each type of foundation material (concrete, brick, stone, concrete block, etc.).
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Arlene Puentes, ASHI, October Home Inspections - (845) 216-7833 - Kingston NY
Greg Robi, Magnum Piering - 800-822-7437 - National*
Dave Rathbun, P.E. - Geotech Engineering - 904-622-2424 FL*
Ed Seaquist, P.E., SIE Assoc. - 301-269-1450 - National
Dave Wickersheimer, P.E. R.A. - IL, professor, school of structures division, UIUC - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture. Professor Wickersheimer specializes in structural failure investigation and repair for wood and masonry construction. * Mr. Wickersheimer's engineering consulting service can be contacted at HDC Wickersheimer Engineering Services. (3/2010)
Diagnosing & Repairing House Structure Problems, Edgar O. Seaquist, McGraw Hill, 1980 ISBN 0-07-056013-7 (obsolete, incomplete, missing most diagnosis steps, but very good reading; out of print but used copies are available at Amazon.com, and reprints are available from some inspection tool suppliers). Ed Seaquist was among the first speakers invited to a series of educational conferences organized by D Friedman for ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors, where the topic of inspecting the in-service condition of building structures was first addressed.
Design of Wood Structures - ASD, Donald E. Breyer, Kenneth Fridley, Kelly Cobeen, David Pollock, McGraw Hill, 2003, ISBN-10: 0071379320, ISBN-13: 978-0071379328
This book is an update of a long-established text dating from at least 1988 (DJF); Quoting: This book is gives a good grasp of seismic design for wood structures. Many of the examples especially near the end are good practice for the California PE Special Seismic Exam design questions. It gives a good grasp of how seismic forces move through a building and how to calculate those forces at various locations.THE CLASSIC TEXT ON WOOD DESIGN UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE LATEST CODES AND DATA. Reflects the most recent provisions of the 2003 International Building Code and 2001 National Design Specification for Wood Construction. Continuing the sterling standard set by earlier editions, this indispensable reference clearly explains the best wood design techniques for the safe handling of gravity and lateral loads. Carefully revised and updated to include the new 2003 International Building Code, ASCE 7-02 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, the 2001 National Design Specification for Wood Construction, and the most recent Allowable Stress Design.
Defects and Deterioration in Buildings: A Practical Guide to the Science and Technology of Material Failure, Barry Richardson, Spon Press; 2d Ed (2001), ISBN-10: 041925210X, ISBN-13: 978-0419252108. Quoting: A professional reference designed to assist surveyors, engineers, architects and contractors in diagnosing existing problems and avoiding them in new buildings. Fully revised and updated, this edition, in new clearer format, covers developments in building defects, and problems such as sick building syndrome. Well liked for its mixture of theory and practice the new edition will complement Hinks and Cook's student textbook on defects at the practitioner level.
Straw Bale Home Design, U.S. Department of Energy provides information on strawbale home construction - original source at http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/designing_remodeling/index.cfm/mytopic=10350
More Straw Bale Building: A Complete Guide to Designing and Building with Straw (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series), Chris Magwood, Peter Mack, New Society Publishers (February 1, 2005), ISBN-10: 0865715181 ISBN-13: 978-0865715189 - Quoting: Straw bale houses are easy to build, affordable, super energy efficient, environmentally friendly, attractive, and can be designed to match the builder’s personal space needs, esthetics and budget. Despite mushrooming interest in the technique, however, most straw bale books focus on “selling” the dream of straw bale building, but don’t adequately address the most critical issues faced by bale house builders. Moreover, since many developments in this field are recent, few books are completely up to date with the latest techniques. More Straw Bale Building is designed to fill this gap. A completely rewritten edition of the 20,000-copy best--selling original, it leads the potential builder through the entire process of building a bale structure, tackling all the practical issues: finding and choosing bales; developing sound building plans; roofing; electrical, plumbing, and heating systems; building code compliance; and special concerns for builders in northern climates.
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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