House leveling is the process of lifting a home when it is sinking. When a house sinks it creates structural problems. Sinking will pull at the walls and the roof, can put the plumbing into the ground, rip the ceiling apart, and more. These problems cannot simply just be fixed. House leveling, along with fixing the source of the problem, will help correct those issues.
Have you noticed lately that your floors appear to be uneven or see things rolling across the floor? If you have, you could be experiencing a foundation problem. Specifically, you could be experiencing foundation settling or heaving.
What Is Foundation Settling or Heaving?
Foundation settling occurs when the weight of your home settles into the ground below. Over time, you may experience differential settling. That is, one side of your Texas home may appear lower than the other.
The vast majority of the time, gaps resulting from foundation settling are vertical. What starts as a small dip in one area of your home could grow to become very large. For example, in the beginning, the dip could measure half an inch. But, as time goes by, the dip could measure as much as 4 inches.
At this point, not only could the underlying foundation problem be severe, but you could also begin facing a myriad of problems in your home. Your home’s doors and windows could fail to function normally, the walls may separate from either the floors or ceiling, the roofing can get pulled apart and start to leak, and the floors and walls could begin having large cracks.
The causes of foundation settling include:
- Water Leaks
This is a common problem in Texan homes. Underground freshwater or underground waste piping can break or crack. When this happens, water begins to leak, causing the soil to first expand, creating a hump in the floor, and then the soil loses its ability to support the floor/foundation. Over time, this will cause the foundation to settle differentially.
- Soil Type
Some soils, like the ones that we have here in Dallas, are classified as expansive clay soil. When it rains, the expansive clay soil swells and expands. When it dries, the soil losses moisture and shrinks. This differential movement causes foundation failure. Sandy soils allow the water to pass through and do not create foundation problems.
- Lot Preparation
A majority of houses are built in cut and fills lots. The cut is to remove high land and the fill is inadequately compacted. Often on cut and fill lots the fill side is the first to experience foundation failure.
Foundation Heaving or Upheaval
Foundation upheaval is one of the common problems that homeowners in Dallas often face. It’s primarily associated with expansive soils. It occurs when your foundation or concrete slab floor moves in an upward direction.
The movement can lead to the development of wall cracks and cracks in your home’s flooring.
Causes of foundation heaving include:
- Prolonged or Heavy Precipitation
Too much precipitation will lead to increased moisture underneath your foundation. When this moisture comes into contact with expansive clay soil, heaving is likely to occur.
- Plumbing Leaks
Again, moisture deposited underneath your home’s foundation and slab can lead to foundation problems. With time, this moisture buildup can cause the expansion of the soils beneath your foundation. The pressure resulting from the expansion causes foundation failure.
- Cut Land
The soil 3-10 feet below the original contour is drier than the surface soil. Over the past 15 years, developers have resorted to saturating the pad area and keeping it moist with plastic until the foundation is poured.
- Expansive Soils
Expansive clay soils expand significantly when they get wet. The resulting pressure then leads to foundation heaving.
How is House Foundation Settling or Heaving Repaired?
Now, this where house leveling comes in!
Heaving cannot be repaired. It is impractical to lift the whole house to the heaved elevation. Most often heaving is caused by poor drainage or a plumbing leak.
House leveling is the process of restoring your Dallas home towards its original position when the foundation has shifted by underpinning the settled area. This process ensures that the house is, once again, level and on a sturdy foundation. Unfortunately, only 1/2 to 2/3 of a foundation’s elevation loss can typically be recovered.
The solution for heaving is to find and eliminate the source of the water that has caused the clay soil to expand.
The most common foundation failure for a concrete slab is sinking. As about 60% of the weight of a house is around the perimeter, the outer edges of a concrete slab foundation are the first to fail. With time, the outer edges pull the inside down. At the first sign of foundation failure, call a foundation repair contractor to identify the root cause and underpin (if needed) the settled area.
While repairing a sinking or heaved foundation certainly requires a professional, checking for uneven floors does not. In most cases, you could do it yourself. You’ll only need either a golf or a tennis ball for this purpose.
On a level floor, the ball will barely move. Otherwise, it will. The faster it moves, the worse the foundation problem.
If you notice this in your Dallas home, call a professional foundation repair company immediately. This is crucial because, with foundation problems, the longer you wait to address the problem, the worse it will get. The worse it gets, the costlier it’ll become to fix it.
How to Level a House
House leveling pier and beam foundations is done through the adjustment of piers. Also, assure that the soil under the foundation is dry year-round.
Many different types of piers exist. For this reason, your contractor will choose the appropriate one based on the foundation problem discovered at the assessment level.
For concrete slab foundations, heaving is solved by removing the water source, while sinking is resolved by underpinning the dropped areas. There are a number of underpinning methods. For DFW we generally recommend steel or concrete piers.
How to Prevent Foundation Problems from Occurring Again
Unless you properly maintain your home, leveling it will not be permanent. As a Dallas homeowner, you must take proactive steps to protect the structural integrity of your home.
Generally speaking, you should:
- Maintain the right soil moisture levels
During summer, make sure to keep the foundation moist by installing a water control system.
- Plant trees and shrubs far away from your home
Trees absorb soil moisture through a process called transpiration. If planted too close to your foundation, these may cause your foundation to settle.
- Drain water away from the house
High moisture levels can cause the soil surrounding your foundation to swell, putting immense pressure on your foundation.
How Much Does House Leveling Cost?
In Dallas, prices generally range from $3,500 to $6,500. Of course, the price depends on several factors.
The factors include:
- Your specific location
- Your foundation type
- The number of piers required
- The underlying problem
- The severity of the problem
To determine the actual cost of fixing your house foundation, contact a Dallas foundation repair contractor. The house leveling contractor will determine the root cause of the problem and estimate the cost of the repair.
If you have reasons to believe that your house is not level, don’t wait. Call us immediately! Granite Foundation Repair has the knowledge, experience, and efficiency to get the job done right the first time.