Let’s Dig In:
A crack in a wall or foundation could mean a hundred different things, and it is always best to figure out the root cause before making any repairs. This homeowner wanted us to replace an existing support column between garage doors. This was necessary due to garage header movement causing cracking along the bricks above.
Stuck in the Mud
Using designs created by AO Engineering, our first task was to shore up the structure. This enabled us to excavate for the new footer and remove the column. Unfortunately, during the excavation process, we found soft soggy soil. As is so often the case, this soil is the likely culprit for the initial structural movement and cracking. Therefore, building on top of the bad soil will only recycle the same problem.
Every job is different and requires problem-solving techniques, experience, and expertise specific to each situation. In this case, we consulted with the engineer regarding the utilization of helical piers to reach the undisturbed, stable soil to allow for the stabilization of the structure. After obtaining concurrence, Hughes Construction implemented the repair. Helical Piers are an innovative way to permanently stabilize a settling foundation. Specific torque settings allow them to have a high load capacity immediately after installation. Plus, they require no digging and minimal equipment to install.
The footing for any vertical concrete structure is the key to its stability. This is one of the many reasons we always insist on the involvement of an engineer for anything structural in nature.
Just like in life, construction is full of unexpected turns. While installing our piers we discover an old, crushed clay drainpipe. Clay pipe drainage was common practice a long time ago, before they had better crush resistant options available. It is likely that this breakage was responsible for the bad soil, as water that should have been directed away from the structure was just pooling underneath. We replaced the pipe with schedule 40 PVC which was tied into the existing pipe utilizing rubber boot connectors. We exclusively use schedule 40 PVC pipe because it is crush proof, easily maintained and will last forever.
Back on track after the pipe hiccup; we installed our piers. After we had them in the ground and ready to support the new footing, we added our steel and poured the footing. We left a depression in front of the column to allow for patching with blacktop tying into the existing driveway. We then placed our steel, closed the concrete block wall and coated it with a skim coating to match the existing columns. As far as the brick wall crack goes: the homeowner will keep an eye on it for the next several months to ensure no further movement before tuckpointing.