Detect, Diagnose, Evaluate & Repair Foundation Movement
Buckles, Bulges, Bows, Cracks, Creep, Impact, Leaning or Settlement Damage
FOUNDATION FAILURES by MOVEMENT TYPE - CONTENTS: How to Evaluate and Diagnose Foundation Movement by Type & Location of Cracks, Bends, Leans, or Shift in Foundation Components. How to distinguish foundation bulging from foundation leaning. Different causes of foundation leaning, bulging, cracking. How to recognize foundation impact damage. How to recognize foundation creep or footing movement.
POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about diagnosing different types of foundation movement: settlement, heaving, leaning, bulging, bowing, vertical or horizontal shifting.
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Types of foundation movement:
This article discusses how to evaluate and diagnose foundation cracks and movement classified by the type of movement that is occurring: horizontal movement, vertical movement, bulging or bowing walls, leaning or tipping foundation walls, and other forms of foundation settlement or heaving.
This chapter of the "Foundation Crack Bible" discusses in detail the recognition of different types and causes of building foundation
movement and foundation damage. We distinguish among vertical movement, horizontal movement, leaning, tipping, bending, differential and
uniform settlement, earthquake and storm damage, and other foundation damage patterns.
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
Use links just below or at the left of each page or the links just below to navigate this document or to view other topics at this website. Green links show where you are in our document or website.
Guide to Types of Building Foundation Movement as an Aid to Foundation Damage Diagnosis & Repair
This article series describes how to recognize and diagnose various types of foundation failure or damage, such as foundation cracks, masonry foundation crack patterns, and moving, leaning, bulging, or bowing building foundation walls.
To be used properly, this information must be combined with specific on-site observations at the particular building in order to form a reliable opinion about the condition of that building's foundation.
Anyone having concern regarding the structural stability, safety, or damage of a building, foundation or other components, should consult a qualified expert.
Detailed articles on types of foundation movement are listed just below. The sketch is courtesy Carson Dunlop Associates
Strategy for Building Foundation or Floor or Slab Crack, Damage, or Movement Assessment
To understand the cause, effect, and remedy for all types of building foundation or masonry wall damage or movement we have categorized foundation damage into these broad categories:
Vertical movement in foundations, in the most general cases, is caused by downwards movement of the wall or wall footings such as when a wall
footing sinks in soft soil, or by an up and down movement of the wall or wall footings such as when a wall is disturbed by frost in a freezing
climate or by expansive clay soils which expand or shrink as their water content increases or decreases.
We discuss types of vertical foundation movement in detail at VERTICAL MOVEMENT IN FOUNDATIONS. Here are some classes of
vertical foundation or building wall movement which we illustrate and discuss in more detail below:
Differential settlement will damage the foundation or
wall by producing (usually vertical, possibly diagonal or stair stepped) cracks and other symptoms of wall movement. The large
foundation crack in this poured concrete wall was caused by differential settlement in a new foundation wall. All of this movement
occurred during the first 13 months after the home was built.
Uniform building settlement: an entire building moves up or down together, causing little or no foundation cracking or damage,
though there could be important damage to mechanical connections to the building and even dangerous gas line leaks.
Building tipping or leaning: an entire building tips or leans out of level.
Vertical shrinkage cracks in foundation walls: If a vertical crack is fairly uniform in width we pose that it was produced either by a non-sloping vertical settlement of one section
of the footing or foundation wall, or the crack was produced by shrinkage (in some wall materials like concrete) not by
vertical movement at all. We discuss the types of crack or movement patterns produced
by shrinkage, expansion, and settlement further at
SHRINKAGE vs EXPANSION vs SETTLEMENT.
Horizontal Movement in Foundations & Masonry Building Walls
Horizontal movement in building foundations or walls is generally caused by an external lateral or "sideways" force applied to
some portion of the wall. Depending on the construction materials used and the strength of a foundation wall, a force applied to the
wall can cause it to move in any of several ways which we discuss in detail at HORIZONTAL MOVEMENT IN FOUNDATIONS.
Bulging foundation wall movement: the wall may bend or "bulge", tending to bulge away from the force (usually inwards into the building from earth, water, or frost
pressure), with the greatest amount of inwards movement at or near the point of greatest pressure or force being applied.
Leaning foundation wall movement: the wall may lean away from the force being applied (usually into the building from the same forces listed above).
Shifting or creeping foundation wall movement: a foundation wall, or portions of it, may remain close to vertical, without leaning or bulging, but forces
applied to the wall may cause the entire wall (or a portion of it) to move horizontally. We see horizontal shift or creep
occurring in several cases:
Complex foundation wall movement: most of the drawings we see at seminars on foundation damage or used by companies
offering foundation repair products are clear and helpful for understanding the concept of foundation damage and movement,
but often they do not describe what we actually find in the field.
Combinations of Foundation Wall Movement, Horizontal & Vertical Crack Patterns Occurring Together
We discuss the inspection and analysis of foundation damage which shows a combination of different movement directions, forces, or crack patterns in detail at COMBINATIONS OF FOUNDATION MOVEMENT including the following examples of combination foundation damage:
Step cracks combined with bulging walls
Combinations of foundation wall movement during foundation collapse
Combinations of foundation wall movement due to earthquake, flood, impact, or explosion
Step cracks combined with leaning foundation walls
How to distinguish between a "bulged" foundation wall and a "leaning" foundation wall, and why we care
Understanding the location and pattern of
foundation wall cracking or movement may help us diagnose its cause and thus may help us understand what actions
are needed to stop further foundation movement.
Even a concrete wall which is bulged is likely to be cracked horizontally, though perhaps not in
such a straight line.
But a bulged reinforced concrete wall would be very rare unless perhaps the concrete wall bulged, or its
forms bulged, during the time that the concrete was being poured and was still wet. It's more likely that a reinforced concrete
wall will be caused to lean or to shift horizontally while a masonry unit wall or stone wall is likely to be bulged and
cracked by the same external forces.
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"Concrete Slab Finishes and the Use of the F-number System", Matthew Stuart, P.E., S.E., F.ASCE, online course at www.pdhonline.org/courses/s130/s130.htm
Sal Alfano - Editor, Journal of Light Construction*
Thanks to Alan Carson, Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, for technical critique and some of the foundation inspection photographs cited in these articles.
Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. He is also a contributor to InspectApedia.com in several technical areas such as plumbing and appliances (dryer vents). Contact Mr. Cranor at 804-747-7747 or by Email: email@example.com
A.B. ChanceFoundation repair systems, helical piers, foundation repairs www.abchance.com
Dwyer of Florida, supplier of Helical Piles, foundation repair, and concrete restoration in Florida, exclusive dealer for Magnum piering. This company provides helical piles, foundation settlement repair, concrete restoration, shotcrete, pressure grouting, and slabjacking for residential and commercial buildings. 1-866-900-PIER www.dwyerflorida.com
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)
*These reviewers have not returned comment 6/95
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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.
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
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.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones