Lifting and Stabilizing a Settling Home in California
The article below is a guest blog from Brian Dalinghaus. Brian and his brother Brad own Dalinghaus Construction which is located in Lake Elsinore, California. They serve a large portion of Southern California including San Diego and Orange Counties and specialize in foundation repair, seismic retrofitting, concrete leveling, and so much more. We thank Brian for his expertise and great information on foundation settlement. Check back in the future for additional blogs from Brian.
When the majority of people think about the biggest hazards to their home, they typically think of natural disasters like fires here in Southern California. Unfortunately, the soils beneath a home’s foundation are actually one of the leading causes of structural damage in California. Although there are multiple variables involved, here are some of the more common issues that result in compromised soils below foundation:
• Maturing Trees
• Poor Drainage
• Plumbing Leaks
• Broken Water Lines
• Poorly Compacted Fill Soil
• Changes in Moisture Content
• Clay Soils
• Weak Bearing Soil
Dalinghaus Construction recently had a homeowner in Diamond Bar, CA contact them to schedule a foundation inspection because they were seeing some California’s tell-tale signs of a settling foundation in their home. Many of the doorframes and windows had cracks coming from their corners, the doors on the north side of the home were sticking, and their tile flooring was beginning to separate in some of the grout lines. The home was also built on a hillside, and many of the cracks in the tile ran parallel with the sloping hill.
When a Dalinghaus representative arrived at the home to perform a foundation inspection, he could immediately feel sloping in the home’s flooring and was able to help visualize the sloping for the customer using one of his simple “old-school” methods. Placing a marble on the floor in different areas of the home, the homeowner was able to see how the marble, very quickly, moved across the floor without any force being applied by the representative. After drawing a scaled diagram of the home, the Dalinghaus representative walked around the first floor with the homeowner while taking elevation measurements using a Zip-Level Altimeter. These measurements showed there was over 2.1 inches of elevation change in the home’s foundation closest to the hillside.
After evaluating his options, the homeowner made the decision to lift and stabilize his home’s settling foundation. The repair plan the Dalinghaus Construction team developed was to include 59 of ECP’s galvanized steel push piers, 14 helical tie-backs, and over 2,000 sq/ft of polyurethane to fill any voids and to densify the soils directly below the foundation. Due to the size of the home, the project was scheduled to be completed in four weeks.
The Repair Process
The first step of the process for Dalinghaus’ production crew, after marking off each pier location, was to excavate and prepare every push pier location. The home’s footing ranged from 18” to 36”, and the team utilized rotary hammer drills and shovels to dig out each location as the property did not have the space for larger equipment.
After excavation and footing prep, the crew installed ECP Model 300 Standard Resistance Brackets at each of the push pier locations. These pier brackets have a maximum field test load of 59,000 lbs each.
The majority of the pier locations were located on the exterior of the home, with a total of nine to be installed on the interior.
Once the brackets were in place the team was able to drive the galvanized steel push piers down to load bearing stratum. On this home, load bearing stratum was at an average depth of about 40 feet.
After the push piers were installed, the team excavated and prepared the helical tie-back locations near the area of the hillside. These tie-backs would ensure the home would no longer experience lateral movement towards the sloping hill.
When the helical tie-backs were completed it was time to transfer the load of the home onto the push piers, lift the home, and lock the foundation in place. The team used multiple high-pressure hydraulic lift heads at various push pier locations to transfer the load and lift the home to maximum practical recovery.
We did it! The production team recovered almost all of the 2.1 inches of settlement, then locked each of the push pier brackets to the pier to ensure the support of the home’s foundation from any future settlement issues.
Then it was time to clean up, tie in rebar at the push pier locations, and complete any concrete that had been excavated.