Are Foundation Cracks Always a Serious Problem?

Foundation cracks are never a welcome sight for homeowners. After all, cracking can be a sign of significant structural damage, which can require costly repairs. 

cracked bowed sidewalk

However, many Utah, Nevada and Wyoming homes built of brick, concrete and block develop foundation cracks over time. And, fortunately, cracking doesn’t always indicate a serious problem. 

While every crack in a home’s foundation should be carefully monitored and eventually treated to head off further damage and costly repairs, some types of cracking are worse than others. If you’ve noticed a crack or two around your home and want to know what you’re up against, a foundation repair contractor can shed more light on the extent of the problem.  

Hairline Foundation Cracks

Hairline cracks in the mortar between bricks or concrete blocks are typically a result of the curing process. This type of cracking is common and, in most cases, isn’t a cause for immediate alarm. However, if one begins to expand, prompt crack repair can help prevent more extensive and costly damage.

Vertical Foundation Cracks

Vertical cracks, which often appear within a few years of home construction, are also common. Cracking of this nature isn’t likely to cause structural issues for a home, but should be addressed to ward off potential water seepage. Most vertical cracks are easy and inexpensive to repair and seal.

Stair-Step Masonry Cracks

Stair-step cracking in masonry joints are a concern, as they can signal a moisture problem in the soil around the foundation. Cracks that are wider than a quarter-inch, and those that are accompanied by bulging in the wall or foundation, pose the biggest threat to your home’s structural integrity and should be repaired as soon as possible.

Diagonal Foundation Cracks

Diagonal cracking generally appears when a fracture spreads and may mean that the soil is exerting too much pressure on the outside of the wall. To avert further spreading and structural damage, diagonal cracks need to be professionally stabilized and reinforced.

Horizontal Foundation Cracks

Horizontal cracking is caused by repeated soil expansion and contraction, and it usually indicates a serious structural problem. These cracks are symptomatic of an unstable home foundation and, left alone, can cause the walls to bulge or even snap. Repairs for horizontal cracking can be extensive and expensive, but immediate professional attention is a must to prevent the home’s structural integrity from being compromised.

Are you concerned about the cracking around your home’s foundation? If you live in Utah, Nevada or Wyoming, the professional contractors at Atlas Piers can provide a complimentary damage assessment and expert advice on your best course of action.

As a trusted local industry leader with over 25 years of experience, Atlas Piers is known for providing high-quality service at an affordable price. Contact us today for a free, no-hassle consultation and evaluation of your foundation cracks.

Can Foundation Damage Result from Clogged Gutters?

Foundation damage can result from a variety of sources, including expansive soils and poor construction materials and practices. But did you know that something as seemingly innocuous as clogged gutters can also cause foundation settling and damage

Can Foundation Damage Result from Clogged Gutters?

If your gutter system doesn’t function as it should, rainwater and melting snow won’t flow away from your home. Over time, clogged gutters can lead to serious damage and settlement problems that require the services of a professional foundation repair contractor

How Do Clogged Gutters Cause Foundation Damage?

Your gutter system is designed to catch the rain and melting snow that run off the roof and channel the water away from your house. If your gutters get clogged with leaves or debris, however, they’ll overflow and allow that water will pool around your home’s foundation.

Pooling water saturates the soil, which greatly stresses the sides of your home. This added pressure can eventually cause the basement walls to crack and buckle inward.

Over time, clogged gutters can also lead to erosion of the soil, which is a major cause of foundation settlement. As the water drains away, so does the underlying soil – and that results in sunken floors, cracked walls and other interior damage.

Preventing Drainage-Related Foundation Settlement

The first step in preventing drainage-related settlement is to be proactive in cleaning out your home’s gutters and downspouts. Check your gutter system for clogs on a routine basis and after heavy storms, removing debris before it has a chance to create a blockage. Take care of any clogged gutters promptly

You should also inspect the gutter system periodically, making sure the attachments are secure, the joints are adequately sealed and the downspouts are directed at least 5 and 10 feet away from your home. 

In addition, you may want to consider installing gutter guards. Guards can’t prevent all drainage-related foundation problems, but they can make gutter maintenance much less time-consuming. 

Other Tips to Prevent Foundation Damage

To protect your home against foundation settlement, make sure the yard is graded properly. If the soil doesn’t slope away from the house, contact a local landscaper or excavation contractor to have the property regraded.

Tree and shrub roots can also create problems for your home’s foundation. Consider removing any large plants that are near the perimeter of your house, or install root barriers to help prevent foundation damage.

Settlement often occurs as a result of soil expansion and contraction. Keeping the soil at a constant moisture level can help avoid damage. So, if you see a gap between the edge of the soil and your foundation walls, gently add water until the dirt expands to close the gap. Adding small native plants with low water needs around your home’s perimeter can also help stop soil settlement.

Have clogged gutters or drainage issues already created problems in the basement or with the foundation of your Utah, Nevada or Wyoming home? Taking care of repairs sooner rather than later is critical if you want to prevent foundation damage from getting worse. 

For expert foundation repair service at an affordable price, turn to Atlas Piers. As a trusted industry leader with over 25 years of experience providing high-quality support systems, our professional team has the skill to restore your home’s integrity. 

Contact Atlas Piers today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation and foundation damage assessment.

Free Foundation Inspections? What’s the Catch? 

Can you really get a free foundation inspection? There must be some kind of catch, right? 

free foundation inspections

Although most service businesses don’t offer much of anything for free these days, reputable foundation repair contractors often don’t charge a fee for performing structural assessments and repair estimates. 

When you schedule a foundation inspection with Atlas Piers, you can trust that it will come with no strings attached.

Why Do We Offer Free Foundation Inspections?

Foundation repair contractors are trying to earn a living, just like everyone. So why would we give away our services for free?

We offer this valuable service to homeowners at no cost because we know that you have many concrete repair contractors to choose from in the Intermountain West and we would like the opportunity to show you what we can do.

Because we have a variety of repair methods available to us – such as helical piers, resistance and tiebacks – we take the time to explain your options and which method(s) we recommend for your foundation settling.

At Atlas Piers, we are committed to helping potential customers make fully-informed decisions, which is why we take the time to discuss our findings and answer your questions.

How Do We Estimate Foundation Repair Costs?

Professional contractors consider a number of factors when estimating a project’s cost.

Your property’s terrain, slope and soil conditions can affect the total price, as can the type of foundation construction you have, the materials used and the history of the site. Hidden obstacles, like tree roots or deep footings, may also contribute to the cost. The price is also likely to be higher if supporting piers or critical components were omitted during construction.

Our estimate will also factor in any other necessary project expenses, such as a building permit, a soil report from a geotechnical engineer or an evaluation from a structural engineer.

Moving Forward with Your Foundation Repair

If you choose to move ahead with your foundation repair, Atlas Piers will use the project estimate as the basis of your service contract with us. Of course, before you sign on the dotted line, you’ll have a chance to ask questions and request clarification. We want you to feel comfortable before you make the decision to hire our team.

Once you give us the go-ahead, we typically request a financial commitment. But, don’t worry if you don’t have enough cash to cover the cost. We’ll work with you to find a way to pay for your repair project. 

Our professional contractors can explain all of your financing options. A home equity loan or line of credit might be your best bet, or you may be eligible for a government-backed home improvement loan. For some homeowners, a personal bank loan or unsecured, interest-free credit card is the answer. Rest assured, we’ll work to make sure that foundation repair is affordable.

Atlas Piers offers complimentary, no-pressure structural assessments and foundation repair estimates to homeowners and businesses throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. Contact us to schedule your free foundation inspection today. 

Foundation Repair Methods: Push Piers vs. Helical Piers 

Today, foundation repair contractors typically use either push piers or helical piers in residential foundation stabilization projects. 

Foundation Repair Methods

Both types of support systems provide permanent solutions to most foundation problems, and both can effectively restore your home’s stability and property value. So, what’s the difference, and which is the right choice to restore the structural integrity of your home? 

How Push Piers Work for Foundation Repair

As the name suggests, push piers or micro piles are heavy-duty steel tubes that are hydraulically driven – or pushed – down through foundation brackets and into the ground, until they reach stable, load-bearing soil.

Also known as resistance piers, contractors install these structural supports individually, although more than one is usually required. The weight of the home structure is typically evenly distributed among several micro piles.

How Helical Piers Work for Foundation Repair

As with push piers, several helical piers are usually required to restore a home’s structural integrity. However, that’s where any similarity between these two types of support systems ends.

Helical piers are steel tubes that are fitted with plates, which give them the appearance of an oversize screw – hence the reason they’re also called screw piles. Installation is similar to the way you might use a screwdriver to fasten screws to a wall but on a much larger scale. As the contractor mechanically turns the piles, the attached plates serve to pull the supports down into the ground. 

Once that’s done, the contractor attaches steel brackets to connect the pier system to the foundation. 

Which Foundation Repair Method Is Right for Your Home?

In deciding between support systems, foundation contractors consider the structural load involved as well as the home’s underlying soil conditions. 

Push pier systems are typically the appropriate choice for heavier structural loads, as their steel sleeves are capable of providing strength and critical support below the brackets. And, because micro-piles are driven down until they reach load-bearing soil, they’re often the best option when soil conditions are unknown.

Helical pier systems are often ideal for lighter structures, including smaller homes and decks. In addition, these supports work well in projects where the soil conditions are known. Your foundation repair contractor will know exactly how far into the ground to mechanically turn the screw piles to reach the desired soil depth. 

Do you have foundation problems? If you live in Utah, Nevada or Wyoming, the professional contractors at Atlas Piers can provide the right repair methods to restore your home’s structural integrity.

As a trusted industry leader with more than 25 years of experience, Atlas Piers is known for providing high-quality structural support systems and exceptional customer service at an affordable price. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary, hassle-free inspection and estimate for foundation repair for your home.

After Foundation Repair, Take These 4 Steps

Foundation repair can be stressful, disruptive and costly, particularly if your home has significant structural damage. So, naturally, you’ll want the repairs to last as long as possible. 

Foundation Repair

The key to protecting your foundation after having it repaired – and providing a stable, solid base for your home for many years to come – is to address the issues that contributed to your settlement problem in the first place. 

After foundation repair, experts recommend taking the following steps to make sure you don’t have to go through this again.

No. 1: Schedule a Plumbing Test

Plumbing leaks can infiltrate the soil under your home and lead to foundation settlement. But, even if you don’t have a problem with your pipes before having the repair work done, you might after the job is finished.

Lifting and stabilizing your home foundation can shift and damage plumbing lines buried underground. To make sure that your pipes are in tip-top condition after foundation repair, contact a local professional plumber and schedule a hydrostatic plumbing test.

No. 2: Check Your Rain Gutter System

Problems with your gutters can also contribute to foundation settlement. Your rain gutter system needs to funnel water away from your home – if it doesn’t, you can look forward to future structural damage due to the increased water content in the soil.

After foundation repair, check your rain gutters and fix or replace any that are sagging or damaged. While you’re at it, make sure that your downspouts are directed far enough away from your home. You may also want to install gutter guards to protect against clogs, as clogged gutters can overflow and send water right down into your foundation. 

No. 3: Improve Your Landscaping

Once repairs to your foundation are completed, you’ll need to take a look at your landscaping. Tree roots and improper grading could create issues in the future, so now’s the time to make any necessary landscape improvements.

If the land surrounding your home is flat or slopes toward the house, grading the lot could help you avoid drainage-related foundation damage. You should also take a look at any shrubs and trees planted along your home’s perimeter – they may need to be moved further away, or you might need to install root barriers to prevent the roots from growing under the foundation.

No. 4: Make Interior Repairs

Repairing your foundation can work to close up some of the cracks in your interior walls, but it won’t make them invisible. It also won’t fix the cracks or warped areas in your flooring.

You can fix your interior walls and floors yourself after foundation repair, or hire a local contractor for the job. But, you may want to wait a few weeks before getting started on cosmetic interior repairs. That way, you can be sure that the soil won’t settle further and cause further damage. 

Another secret to long-lasting foundation repair? Hire an experienced contractor – like the professionals at Atlas Piers – to complete the work. 

The Atlas Piers team has a 25-year history of providing high-quality service at an affordable price to homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. For a free, no-pressure consultation and expert answers to your questions about foundation repair, contact us today.  

How Foundation Problems Can Affect Your Business

Does your commercial building have foundation problems? Speedy foundation repair is a must to prevent the damage from getting worse, and to limit the effect it has on your business.

Structural issues within a building can cost a business in several ways. You might begin to lose customers, or someone could face a serious injury. And, if you put off having it repaired, your foundation problems may have a significant impact on your bottom line. 

Foundation Problems

You Could Lose Customers 

Sloping floors, cracks in the walls, gaps around the windows and door frames – all of these signs of foundation problems can be obstacles to customer acquisition. 

Everyone expects a certain level of comfort and security when visiting a business. Perception matters and, if your building is in disrepair, customers may not have confidence in your company. 

They may perceive that, if you don’t have the time or resources to fix obvious structural issues in your facility, they may not be able rely on your products or professional services.

You Could Face Legal Action

Do your interior floors, outdoor walkways or parking lot have cracks from foundation settlement? Cracks aren’t just eyesores – they’re trip and fall hazards.

If you don’t have the foundation repaired, one of your customers could suffer an accident and become seriously injured. They are likely to then sue your business. If they win, the courts will compel you to pay for medical care, lost wages and even pain and suffering. 

And, once word gets out to the media, your business reputation may be damaged. So, aside from legal and injury-related costs, you could end up paying the price in with other customers.

Your Property Value May Drop

You might not plan on selling or leasing your commercial building now, but unrepaired foundation problems will be a thorn in your side when you do decide to make a move.

The resale value of your building will be far less if structural issues are present, and you may have trouble even finding an interested buyer or tenant. With all the other commercial properties on the market, why would anyone choose a building that needs foundation repair?

You Could Face High Foundation Repair Costs 

Solving foundation problems can be a major business expense, so commercial property owners may put off getting repairs. However, too much of a delay can actually drive up the costs.

When structural issues are left unrepaired, the damage continues to worsen as time goes on. And, as the problems spread, the price of foundation repair rises.

Don’t let foundation problems affect your Utah, Nevada or Wyoming business. Let the professionals at Atlas Piers restore the integrity of your commercial building. Our team has the skill and expertise to complete timely, effective and affordable foundation repair with minimal disruption to your business. 

For over 25 years, commercial property owners have trusted Atlas Piers for the highest quality structural support systems. Contact us today and schedule a free, no-pressure inspection and estimate to repair your foundation problems. 

How Foundation Damage Is Caused by Tree Roots

Tree roots can cause foundation damage – and often do – that threatens the structural integrity of your home. 

Tree roots can wreak havoc in a number of ways. Below, we explore some of these common problems and offer professional advice on how to prevent tree-related structure damage. 

How Foundation Damage Is Caused by Tree Roots

Tree Roots Can Grow Under the Foundation

Physical contact between trees and foundations is a common cause of structural damage.

Tree roots can extend outward into the soil more than three times the height of the tree. So, if you have any trees near your home, their roots are likely to be growing under or along foundation.

In many cases, pier-and-beam designs can handle root growth better than slab-on-grade designs, as they can more easily absorb the pressure. Trees that are larger and longer-lived pose more of a threat but any trees can grow in such a way as to cause damage to any home’s foundation.

Tree Roots Take Water from the Foundation Soil

Large trees can pull dozens of gallons of water per day from the soil that underlies your home.

Trees need water to survive so, if your area isn’t getting much precipitation, you will have to provide water in the form of a sprinkler system or manual watering. Unless you give them regular watering, the roots will seek out moisture in the soil, pulling it from under the structure. Over time, the dry, underlying soils compact, resulting in settlement and foundation damage.

Decaying Tree Roots Can Cause Foundation Damage

Even dead trees and trees that have been removed can also pose a problem.

This happens when the root systems of dead trees rot within the soil. And, with removed trees, the roots are left behind. In either case, as the roots decay, air spaces are created in their place. The soil then shifts to fill the voids, and the foundation settles and becomes damaged.

How to Prevent Foundation Damage from Tree Roots

Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent tree-related foundation damage.

Avoid planting new trees too close to your house. For trees already in place, you can have the roots trimmed or install root barriers. Removal isn’t always the right answer, as the resulting soil changes may have a long-term effect on foundation stability.

In addition, make sure you give your trees enough water. That way, their roots won’t go in search of moisture in the soil beneath your home. Don’t overdo the watering, however, as too much water could also damage your foundation and harm the tree.

If you suspect you may have tree-related foundation damage, it’s imperative that you have it evaluated as soon as possible. The professional foundation settlement contractors at Atlas Piers, a trusted industry leader for over 25 years, can thoroughly evaluate your property and determine if trees have compromised the structural integrity of your home foundation.

Atlas Piers offers complimentary, hassle-free inspection and repair estimates to homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. To schedule your foundation damage consultation, contact us today. 

Foundation Repair and Buying a New Home: Do Your Homework

Many home sellers handle foundation repair before putting their property on the market because they know a problem-free home will bring a better price in a shorter timeframe. However, some sellers do not take this proactive stance.

Buying a house after any necessary foundation work has been done can save you time, money and major headaches later on. That’s why you should never take a home seller’s word on these critical repairs.

foundation repair new home

Before signing on the dotted line, protect your interests by making sure you have copies of all important documents related to foundation repair work.

Original Foundation Repair Agreement

Request a copy of the original repair agreement, as this document gives you the details about the work that was done. Read the terms and conditions carefully, making sure that any warranties or guarantees are transferable. 

Don’t forget to check into the foundation contractor who completed the work. Are they still in business? Do they have a good reputation for quality service? 

Scale Drawing of the Foundation Repair Work

Along with the repair agreement, foundation contractors provide homeowners with scale drawings that illustrate the scope of their repair work. Get a copy of this drawing, as it shows exactly where the piers and footings were repaired. This is essential information because it defines what’s covered under the warranty.

Foundation Repair Warranty

Speaking of the warranty, you need to have a copy – and you must make sure the company is still around to honor it. Read the fine print and get a solid understanding of the coverage terms as well as the causes for warrantable action to be taken. 

Don’t hesitate to contact the company if you have questions about the foundation warranty.

Third-Party Engineering Report for the Foundation Repairs

A third-party engineering report documents the repair work and verifies that everything was completed according to code. 

This important report should also show the final home elevation levels after repair, which you may need for future property improvements. You can also opt to hire your own structural engineer during the home inspection process to confirm that any foundation settlement has been properly repaired.

If you can’t get all of these documents, or if are you unsure about the quality of the repairs, you may want to reconsider your home purchase, as you could have more difficulty with future repair work. And you’ll be in for a bigger hassle – or even potential legal liability – if you decide to sell the property in the future.

For more information, or to schedule your own professional foundation inspection, contact Atlas Piers. Trusted by homeowners and businesses throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming for over 25 years, the Atlas Piers team can answer all of your questions about foundation repair.  

How Much Does Foundation Repair Cost?

Everyone who needs foundation repair wants to know about cost. And that’s not surprising, since structural issues have a reputation for being expensive to correct.

However, as any responsible contractor will tell you, estimating the price to fix a damaged or settled foundation is impossible without an in-person inspection. Many variables play a part in determining the scope of any repair project, so cost cannot be predicted.

Foundation Repair Cost

The good news? Not all repairs involve major reconstructions. So, the cost to fix your foundation may not be as high as you fear. 

Factors that Affect the Cost for Foundation Repair

The price you pay for foundation repair will depend upon your particular situation. 

Generally speaking, the smaller the structural problem and the easier it is to access the settled portion of the foundation, the less you’ll be charged for repair work. But, several other factors can also impact the overall cost.

The type of foundation you have and the level of instability of the soil underneath can affect the price. And, if hidden obstacles are present – such as tree roots or deep footings – the cost will be higher. 

In addition to the complexity of fixing the problem, other variables can add to the cost. For example, many projects require building permits, evaluations from structural engineers and soil reports from geotechnical engineers. And, if you live in an earthquake-prone area, you can expect to pay more for structural repair work. 

What Other Homeowners Pay for Foundation Repair

Still want to know the average cost to repair a foundation? 

According to HomeAdvisor.com, an online home improvement marketplace, the national average cost for foundation repair is $3,963.

But, this alone doesn’t paint a clear picture of what homeowners actually pay for repair work – there’s quite a wide price range.

On the low end, fixing a small crack might cost just $500. For a home that needs major foundation work, the repair can cost upwards of $11,000 – and some projects can run much more than that.

Foundation Repair Financing Options

Worried about how you’ll pay for foundation repair? You don’t have to have cash in the bank – several financing options are available.

A home equity loan or line of credit (HELOC) may be a good option if you’re in a position to borrow against the equity of your home. If not, depending upon your circumstances, you may be able to get a government loan through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or the Rural Housing Service (RHS).

You could also consider getting a personal loan from your bank or credit union. Or, split the repair work into equal payments by using a new unsecured, interest-free credit card. Many foundation contractors also offer attractive financing options.

At Atlas Piers, we understand that the cost of fixing your foundation problems is a big concern. Rest assured, we strive to provide high-quality work and exceptional service at an affordable price. To schedule a free inspection and estimate for foundation repair in Utah, Nevada or Wyoming, contact us today.

Why You Need a Plumbing Test After Foundation Repair

Foundation repair is no simple process. In fact, from start to finish, the project can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

One important step in the repair process isn’t actually handled by the foundation contractor, but by a professional plumber instead. After the piers are installed and the structure of the home is stabilized, a special plumbing test is typically required.

plumbing test

Here are the important reasons why a plumbing test necessary after foundation repair and some general information on how the process works. 

Foundation Repair Can Create Plumbing Problems

Your home’s plumbing system is hidden in the walls and ceilings – and within the foundation. Many of the pipes that carry water and sewage are buried deep underground.

As you can imagine, shifting the foundation can cause the plumbing to shift. In some cases, the pipes can become damaged when the home is lifted and stabilized.

And, of course, problems with the plumbing could be the reason you needed foundation repair in the first place. Plumbing leaks are a major cause of foundation damage, as water infiltration can create changes in the soil.

Regardless, to ensure all your pipes are in good shape after foundation repair, you’ll need to get a hydrostatic plumbing test.

How the Hydrostatic Plumbing Test Works

Essentially, this test puts your plumbing system under tremendous pressure in order to detect foundation leaks.

To perform the test, an inflatable ball is inserted into the main sewer line, either through an outside cleanout (a pipe that sticks up from the ground, located close to the home) or through the drain system under a first-floor toilet. Then, the system is filled with water, which may be dyed to aid in leak detection.

The water level is then carefully monitored for 20 minutes. If the level drops, a leak exists. 

What if the Test Reveals a Leak?

If the test indicates that you have a leak, you’ll need to have the plumbing damage repaired. 

Fixing the leak will help preserve the foundation and protect your home’s stability for years to come. But, that’s not the only reason to schedule plumbing line repairs.

Leaks can lead to very costly foundation damage in the future. So, contractors who warranty their work usually require homeowners to repair leaks. If you fail to get a plumbing test, or if you ignore the results, you may not have a valid warranty. 

Atlas Piers, an industry leader for over 25 years, offers free inspections and estimates to homeowners throughout Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. For professional advice and assistance with all of your foundation repair needs, contact us today.