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STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS
AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
BRICK FOUNDATIONS & WALLS
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
COLD POUR JOINTS, CONCRETE
COLUMNS & POSTS, DEFECTS
DISASTER BUILDING INSPECTION & REPAIR
EARTHQUAKE DAMAGED FOUNDATIONS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOD DAMAGE TO FOUNDATIONS
FOOTING & FOUNDATION DRAINS
FOOTINGS EXPOSED, Repair Methods
FOUNDATION BULGE or LEAN MEASUREMENTS
FOUNDATION CONSTRUCTION TYPES
FOUNDATION CONTRACTORS, ENGINEERS
FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE
FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
GRADING, DRAINAGE & SITE WORK
GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS
INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE
MOBILE HOMES, DOUBLEWIDES, TRAILERS
MODULAR HOME CONSTRUCTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
RETAINING WALL DESIGNS, TYPES, DAMAGE
RETAINING WALL GUARD RAILINGS
STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION
STRUCTURAL DAMAGE PROBING
STRUCTURAL WOOD ASSESSMENT
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
TIMBER FRAMING, ROT
WATER BARRIERS, EXTERIOR BUILDING
WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This article discusses in detail How to Evaluate and Diagnose Movement or settlement in pier or piling foundations supporting buildings. Illustrations compare friction piers and bearing piles, types of pier/pile foundation settlement, and we discuss the role of constructing on fill or on clay soils in pier or pile performance in supporting a structure.
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Also see FOUNDATION CRACK EVALUATION for a discussion of the diagnosis of specific crack patterns in masonry foundations, and see FOUNDATION BULGE or LEAN MEASUREMENTS which explains a simple method for determining how much bulge or lean is present in a foundation or wall, then see FOUNDATION MOVEMENT ACTIVE vs. STATIC which helps determine if the foundation movement is ongoing, and see FOUNDATION DAMAGE SEVERITY for a discussion of just how much foundation movement is likely to be a concern.
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. Photographs of types of foundation cracks and other foundation damage: we have a large library of photographs which we're in process of adding to this document. Pending completion of that work, contact the author if assistance is required.
Question about pier settlement in a New Mexico Home
House dirt pad was built up on original earth and 13 cement pillars were poured along the raised portion of earth. The house is 33' X 83'. Just recently the entire north portion of the house (83') has developed a crack along the tile floor and plaster wall.
The most noticeable part of this 'shift' seems to be more toward the end of the house that sits on the pillared foundation.
The bathroom wall is about half way along this wall and the sewer line sits under this portion of the house. There is a subtle but noticeable odor in this area and the tile has separated from the wall about 1''.
What is happening and how do I fix it? The doors and windows are not opening smoothly and the wall appears to be cracking at an alarming rate. I have homeowners insurance. Thanks, - L.C.
Reply: foundation diagnosis and repair suggestions for settling piers
Our sketch at above left provided courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates explains the difference between bearing piles (above left), and friction piles (above right). If your home is supported by either pile type and the piles were not properly installed, you can expect differential settlement, ongoing movement, and the crack pattern you describe. Below we discuss the details.
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem. That said, here are some things to consider:
I'd be a fool to pretend to diagnose building cracks by email, not to mention sight unseen.
What to Do Next About Structural Cracking and Pier Repairs
If the explanation and repair advice you hear just doesn't make sense to you let me know what you were told and I can suggest some follow-up questions. And don't do anything expensive before you understand what's going on.
Our FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE is the home page for discussions of foundation problem inspection, diagnosis, and repair.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about structural piers or piles: settlement, leaning, damage, diagnosis, repair
Questions & answers or comments about diagnosing and repairing pier or pile foundation settlement, movement, cracking in continuous wall foundations and footings or in individual posts, columns, or supporting piers..
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Technical Reviewers & References
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