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Help, Metal Rod Sticking out of Foundation!

Metal Rod Sticking out of Foundation

The Trials and Tribulations of a Millenial Homeowner

It is no secret that homeownership comes with a learning curve. In fact, when my husband and I moved into our first home we were CLUELESS. Shortly after moving in, the heater suddenly stopped working. It was freezing that day(45 degrees is freezing to southerners), so I quickly called the HVAC repairman. An older man arrived at our house, took a few minutes to look at the system and said, “Ma’am, the heater isn’t working because your gas is shut off.” Amidst the chaos of moving, my husband forgot to transfer the bill into our name. As I mentioned before, we were CLUELESS. To make a long(and slightly embarrassing) story short, I learned the first of many lessons in homeownership; HVAC systems often use gas for heating.

Surprised by my lack of knowledge, my new friend/repairman had a true “dad-moment.” He stopped dead in his tracks and gave me a tutorial on how to operate various appliances, light the pilot lights, etc. Wow, talk about going above and beyond!!

Getting Back on Topic

As homeowners, we have to help each other out and share tips when we stumble upon them. You probably already knew that the HVAC uses gas to produce heat, so I can’t help you there. However, I do happen to know a few things about foundation settling in the Dallas – Fort Worth metroplex. In honor of paying it forward, I would like to share a few words of wisdom that a  wise engineer shared with me when I saw a metal rod sticking out of my foundation…

“If you notice a metal rod sticking out of your concrete slab, that doesn’t mean that you have foundation problems.”

During the construction of a slab on grade foundation, cables are arranged throughout the slab (per the direction of the engineer). Then, a machine is used to apply a calculated stress to each rod. After tensioning, every rod is trimmed and anchored to the slab edge. Finally, the pocket where the anchors are located is filled with cement. This magical process is why your slab can withstand so much weight!

plug for exposed rebar post tension cable in concrete slab foundation

Visible plugs are common in Dallas Fort Worth concrete slab foundations.

Many homes in Dallas – Fort Worth have noticeable patches where the post-tensioned cables have been sealed. In order to protect the post-tensioned cables from weathering and erosion, builders fill in the space surrounding the rods and seal each cable end. It is common for patches to be visible in the end product. The image above shows a typical concrete slab in Dallas – Fort Worth, Texas. In this case, there is no cause for concern but the homeowner should monitor the rods to ensure that they do not protrude any further.

post tension cable rebar sticking out foundation

Post-tensioned cables should be sealed to prevent rust and plugged by a professional.

This next image (above) shows a plug that has deteriorated over time. The post-tensioned rod is vulnerable and should be repaired immediately. Exposed cables are subject to water exposure which can cause the cables to rust and potentially snap. As such, these exposed cable ends should be cleaned and patched with non-shrink concrete to prevent damage. This repair should be performed by a qualified c0ncrete or brick mason. 

cable sticking out of foundation

Metal rod sticking out of foundation. Excessive settling caused this post-tensioned cable to protrude from the concrete slab foundation.

Occasionally, post-tensioned cables break and need to be repaired. If you happen to be nearby when one snaps, you will hear a loud POP! When a post-tensioned cable is severed, it is crucial that you call a Licensed Professional Engineer right away to prevent further damage to your home’s foundation.

“Your house isn’t going to crumble into bits.”

In conclusion, don’t freak out if you see something that resembles rebar sticking out of your home’s foundation. It doesn’t mean that your house is going to crumble. By using the tips discussed in this blog and others on our site, you can be proactive about your foundation’s health.

If you have concerns about your home’s foundation, call one of our Licensed Professional Engineers for a full evaluation. (817)576-1973

Don’t forget to pay it forward by sharing this article with another homeowner!

 

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Understanding Your Engineering Report

engineering report Structural Engineering Dallas Fort Worth

Understanding Your Engineering Report

The best way to get an accurate assessment of your home’s foundation is by hiring a structural engineer to produce an engineering report. For over twenty years, TEC has been spreading the message to the Dallas – Fort Worth metroplex,

“If you suspect foundation problems, refer to an independent, Licensed Professional Engineer FIRST.”

For best results, we recommend using an engineer that remains independent of foundation repair companies. The title “engineer” can be thrown around lightly in the construction industry. As such, be sure to validate that he/she is Licensed by the State of Texas.

Search the P.E. database here: https://engineers.texas.gov/roster/pesearch.html

Is hiring a structural engineer worth it?

Absolutely! A Licensed P.E. applies his/her scientific and engineering education, training,  and experience to determine the cause and extent of any diminished foundation performance. Once he/she has identified the issue, the engineer will draft a remediation plan in an 8-10 page engineering report. Often, the solution recommended by the engineer does not involve foundation repair. Instead, he/she may suggest drainage improvements or installing a foundation watering system.

Engineering Report

At TEC, we perform Level “A” and Level “B” investigations when evaluating a home’s foundation and structure. A summary of the following will be included in the engineer’s report:

Level A Investigations

  1. Interview with the homeowner about the history of the property and performance of the structure
  2. Review provided documents; construction drawings, engineer’s reports, etc.
  3. Visually observe the interior and exterior of the home
  4. Providing a written report with the following information:
    • Site observations, characteristics, and data deemed pertinent by the engineer
    • Discussion of major factors that influence the foundation’s performance such as drainage concerns, interfering trees, and landscape, soil conditions, etc.
    • Field notes and other pertinent data
    • Conclusions and recommendations for further investigation, remedial or preventative measures. Some examples include; plumbing and sprinkler testing, foundation repair, drainage improvements, installing a foundation watering system, etc.

 Level B Investigations

A Level “B” engineering analysis includes a written report with the items listed in Level “A” and the following:

  1. Foundation elevation survey to represent the shape of the foundation or floor levels
  2. A drawing depicting the relative elevations

Once you have your engineering report in hand, you can take it to two or three repair companies for estimates. Remember, lifting your foundation is just one way to remedy foundation settling. Let our engineers find the best solution for you.

Contact TEC for an engineering report. 

Call (817)576-1973

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Home Inspection Prep Tips for Buyers

home inspection prep list tips for home buyers in dallas Fort Worth

Still have questions? Visit the Home Inspection Page.

Give us a call at 817-576-1973. We are here to help!

Related Articles:

Buying a Home in Texas – Avoid This Mistake

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Best Time of Year for Foundation Repair In Dallas

Understanding Seasonal Moisture Fluctuations

Foundation problems in Dallas – Fort Worth are often caused by shifting soils. Many homeowners notice that signs of foundation settling seem to come and go, depending on the season. The most common complaint is malfunctioning doors and windows. You’ve probably heard someone attribute the jamming to “the wood swelling from all the rain.” The reality is that in North Texas, swelling clay causes the more damage to homes.

Foundation Repair - Warning Signs. House foundation repair. Foundation Repair. Broken Foundation House Brick Wall.

The clay soil in Dallas – Fort Worth experiences expansion and contraction, depending on moisture levels. When it’s hot and dry outside, the clay soil shrinks. Adversely, clay has a tremendous capacity for retaining water. Heavy rainfall leads to swelling soil beneath our home’s foundation. To put foundation settling in a nutshell,

Your foundation becomes weak from the constant movement. Eventually, it cracks under the pressure – literally.

 

The Freeze (December-February)

During the winter, there is minimal rainfall and low, sometimes freezing, temperatures. The soil is relatively stable, leading some experts to believe winter is the best time for foundation repairs. Unfortunately, homeowners are reluctant to live in a construction zone during the holidays. Also, when the signs of foundation settling are less obvious, people tend to procrastinate on repairs. It is the classic, out of sight, out of mind scenario.

Spring Showers (March-May)

Many people plan home improvement projects during the spring. Often times, cracks are discovered during the process of replacing flooring or repairing damaged sheetrock. During this time, existing cracks may appear to grow as a result of swelling clay soil. Some experts suggest that spring is the best time to schedule foundation repairs, especially if you suspect that your foundation problems are worsening.

Monthly temperature and rainfall chart for the Dallas Fort Worth area in Texas.

Dog Days of Summer (June-September)

You will notice that during June through September, high temperatures are accompanied by low levels of rainfall. Contracting soil creates gaps beneath your home’s foundation. As a result, you may see signs of foundation settling.

As mentioned earlier, the clay soil shrinks during these periods of intense heat. Foundation repair during these so-called “dog days of summer” may lift your home too much. However, a Licensed Professional Engineer takes seasonal fluctuations into consideration when making his calculations. Foundation companies offer free estimates but proceed with caution. Only a Licensed P.E can ensure work performed on your home is necessary and correct.

“Fall” in Texas (October-November)

Summer seems to last half of the year in Texas, so there isn’t much of a fall season. Even so, fall is a great time to take a good look at your home’s foundation. Scheduling foundation repairs during this season will leave time to put the house back together before the holidays.

When is the BEST time to fix your foundation?

The answer is NOW! If you suspect that your home has foundation concerns, there’s no time like the present to call a Licensed Professional Engineer for a foundation inspection. He/she will present an 8-10 page Engineer’s Report highlighting issues and recommending repairs – if needed. If you do need piers, the engineer will tell you how many, what kind, and pinpoint the ideal placement.

Stop putting it off, schedule your foundation inspection today.

Call 817-576-1973 or email stephanie@tecdfw.com to get on the list.

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Thermal Imaging Detects the Good, Bad and the Ugly

TEC is heating up the Home Inspection scene by offering infrared (thermal imaging) as an add-on to our traditional home inspection. The advanced, non-invasive imaging allows our inspectors to look beyond the sheetrock, so to speak.

The following deficiencies can be documented with a thermal imaging camera:

Moisture intrusion that could lead to mold and structural damage.

  • leaky roofs
  • plumbing leaks
  • wet insulation
  • moisture in the walls

Areas of the home experiencing energy loss.

  • heat and air infiltration in walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors
  • damaged and/or malfunctioning radiant heating systems
  • air-conditioner compressor leaks
  • structural defects that can lead to energy loss

Dangerous electrical concerns.

  • overloaded and faulty circuit breakers
  • overheated electrical equipment and component
  • unexpected hot spots (faulty wiring)

Unexpected visitors living within the structure.

  • pest infestations
  • rodents such as rats, mice, and other larger pests

For more information on TEC Home Inspections click here.

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Buying a House in Texas – Avoid This Mistake

Purchasing a home can be a stressful process for everyone involved. One common mistake that people make when buying a house is not choosing the right Home Inspector. TEC has worked directly with realtors and their clients for the past five years. We can’t keep count of the phone calls our office receives from panicked buyers, sellers, or realtors needing an inspection “YESTERDAY.”

Good news, TEC has you covered. Here are a few ways we go above and beyond to make your life a little bit easier:

Home Inspection

Throughout the inspection, we examine more than 600 components, taking images along the way. Each item is inspected for structural soundness, proper function, and code compliance.

UNIQUE TO TEC: Our Licensed Professional Home Inspectors perform foundation elevation surveys on every home, at no additional charge.

An elevation level survey provides two important advantages for the homeowner:

  1. In both new and older homes, the survey gives the buyer a point of reference that paints a clear picture if future settling occurs. * Comes in handy if you ever have to battle with a home warranty company or builder.
  2. The survey pinpoints existing foundation concerns. * Might not be a deal-breaker, but may be grounds for some negotiating.

Our Home Inspectors train alongside our engineer for two weeks before they are allowed to perform an inspection. Therefore, they are better equipped to differentiate between cosmetic and structural flaws. If there is a concern about a home’s foundation, TEC Home Inspectors consult with our in-house engineers. * Most Inspectors will simply cite “refer to an engineer” if they see a crack or other signs of foundation problems. Then the homebuyer has to scramble to schedule an engineer within the option period, leading to more money out of pocket.

Foundation Inspections and Structural Evaluations

If your home inspection report says to “consult with an engineer,” give us a call. We will everything possible to work within your option period. TEC has a solid reputation for providing independent, thorough evaluations for DFW homeowners and prospective buyers.

BONUS: If you schedule a Home Inspection and a Foundation Evaluation at the same time, we take 20% off the engineer’s fee.

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Choose an Independent Engineer for Foundation Evaluation

cracks in foundation foundation problems Dallas Fort Worth Mansfield structural engineerThere are many factors that can cause your foundation to lose structural integrity. Sometimes the soil beneath a home can start to settle and shift. Unfortunately, the foundation will shift as well.
Did you know that structural issues can affect electrical lines and plumbing systems, causing a variety of problems?

Fixing unleveled flooring and filling cracks in the wall is easy, but you need to determine the root of the issue. Physical flaws in your home could be a signal to something more serious and complicated. Choosing an engineer for a foundation evaluation should be your first recourse.

Engineers are trained to look at all aspects of the home’s foundation, and they are equipped with the knowledge needed to recognize problems as they arise. When the foundation problem involves more than just the framing and foundation, having an independent engineer on your side becomes quite handy. They know how to look beyond the surface, and this is good because beyond the surface is probably where the problem belongs.

Factors to consider in finding a good independent engineer

Identifying and fixing a structural problem is like a sick person going to a doctor. You have symptoms that you’re not well, and the doctor examines you and conducts a couple of tests to pinpoint exactly what the problem is. The diagnosis of your disease will depend on how good the doctor is, and in the same way, getting to the bottom of your house’s foundation problem will depend on how good your engineer is.

Slab leaks can occur as a result of foundation settling. Call an engineer if you suspect there is an issue.

Here are some things you need to consider before choosing an engineer for foundation evaluation:

License: Having a licensed professional engineer inspect your house will streamline the process and ensure accuracy. As this article by HSH.com highlights, a home inspector could very well uncover a structural problem, but a licensed professional engineer not only uncovers the problem, but he or she will know exactly how to deal with it. Getting a licensed engineer from the beginning will save you the hassle— and money.

Professional Affiliations: Some people think that gaining membership to professional clubs is simply about paying the dues.  Not true for engineers; they must pass difficult eligibility requirements and adhere to a strict code of ethics.

Credibility: If the independent engineer is affiliated with a credible inspection institution, then you should be fine. However, as a homeowner, you can never be too careful. Be sure to check their references and get referrals.

Thomas Engineering Consultants has a reputation for client satisfaction.

Click here to see our many positive customer reviews.

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Home Inspection Checklist: 10 Ways to Prepare

Home Inspector | Dallas Fort Worth Arlington Mansfield 

Joe Bourget, Professional Home Inspector TREC License #22546

There are several challenges that a Home Inspector must overcome to keep the home inspection process running as smoothly as possible. If you are a homeowner or a realtor in the selling process, there are a few things you can do to help your listing shine during a home inspection. We interviewed Licensed Professional Home Inspector, Joe Bourget and he gave us this Home Inspection Checklist, 10 Ways to Prepare:

 

1. Don’t assume that the utilities are still on.

Confirm that the water, electrical and gas services (including pilot lights) will be on during the inspection so the home inspector can determine if the dishwasher, hot water heater, stove, electrical components, etc. are functioning properly.

2. Make sure your pets won’t hinder the inspection.

I love dogs! Unfortunately, they don’t always welcome me. Please remember to alert the inspector if animals will be present during the appointment. It is best to remove them from the premises to speed things along.

3. Check your light bulbs.

I can’t tell you how many homeowners forget to replace old light bulbs with new ones before an inspection. Take the time to replace any burned-out bulbs (prior to your appointment) to avoid a “light is inoperable” comment on the home inspection report.

4. Replace dead batteries.

Don’t forget to replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors too! A home inspector will do a walk-through of your home and test these items. Any detectors with a missing or low battery will be listed in the report as a deficiency. It might not seem like a big deal, preparing ahead of time can help keep your home inspection report short and sweet.

Dirty or missing filters lead buyers to believe that the HVAC unit has not been properly maintained.

5. Check your filters.

Avoid an embarrassing reveal of filthy HVAC filters in front of a prospective buyer by checking them beforehand. When filters clog, they prevent proper airflow through the vents. Ill-fitting or dirty filters can cause the HVAC system to malfunction and will be noted in a report.

6. Clear debris away from the foundation.

Woodpiles, fallen branches, etc. create an ideal habitat for pests. To avoid a comment on “conducive conditions” for termites in your home inspection, clear a path before your inspector arrives.

7. Remove clutter.

Do a quick scan of the property and ensure that nothing is blocking access to major appliances, the HVAC equipment, all electrical service panels, hot water heaters, and attic entries.

8. Find your keys.

Make sure that you have copies of keys for sheds, attic doors, electric service panels, garages, exterior gates and any other locked areas that the inspector will need to access.

Per TREC standards, all tree limbs within 10 feet of the home must be noted in the inspector’s report.

9. Trim your branches.

Tree limbs should be at least ten feet away from your home’s roof. An inspector will make a note of any offending branches in his report.

10. Tackle small repairs in advance.

If your property has missing doorknobs, locks, latches, window panes, screens, gutters, downspouts, chimney caps, etc., it is best to fix those prior to listing your home. A Licensed Professional Home Inspector is required to note all of the above in the home inspection report.

Selling your home can be an emotional and arduous process. By preparing your listing with this home inspection checklist, you will set the pace for a hassle-free closing. Happy selling!

To schedule a home inspection in Dallas, Fort Worth, or surrounding areas, contact TEC today.

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Are Sticking Doors a Sign of Foundation Problems?

It’s a beautiful day in Texas. The birds are chirping and the kids are happily playing in the yard. You spontaneously decide to open the windows and invite in the fresh air. There is only one problem; the window is stuck. In fact, several windows throughout the house refuse to open properly. Then, you notice a crack extending from the corner of the window frame up to the crown molding. Panic sets in.

foundation problems homeowner cracks in home

Keep calm and call a licensed Professional Engineer for an unbiased evaluation of your home’s foundation.

You begin to ask yourself…

Does this house have foundation problems?

Will I lose the money I invested?

How will I afford to send the kids to college?

What about my retirement?

Maybe that is a tad overdramatic, but we get it! We’ve all heard the horror stories about homes needing $100,000 worth of foundation repair. The good news is that extreme cases like that are rare. However, when it comes to foundation problems, early detection is the key to maintaining your sanity (and home equity).

Sticking Doors, Jammed Windows, and Cracks – Signs of Foundation Problems?

All the above indicate foundation settling, but only a licensed Professional Engineer can determine if there is cause for alarm. Keep in mind that foundation damage is very common in Texas due to the presence of expansive soil.

Dallas is home to Texas Blackland Prairie soils. The clay soils in this region have high shrink-swell properties that require special design accommodations to ensure proper structural integrity.

Structural or Non-Structural?

Concrete slabs such as patios, sidewalks, and garage floors are often the first structures to show signs of foundation settling. So how can you tell if a crack is structural or cosmetic? One of the typical signs of a non-structural defect is that the crack is very thin or narrow, almost hairline. There is also no noticeable broken or dislocated masonry surrounding the crack.

On the other hand, cracks that may indicate structural failure tend to be wide. They often appear in a stair-step pattern and lead to displaced or crumbling masonry. When the concrete or masonry is disturbed, areas nearby begin to shift into the void space. For example, when doors and windows go out of alignment, it is usually the result of shifting exterior walls.

Look closely, your foundation may be trying to tell you something.

Unlevel pavement is a common sign that the soil beneath the concrete is settling.

Notice the frieze board separating from your brick? You may need a foundation inspection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detective Work

In the Dallas – Fort Worth metroplex, precipitation levels are generally low so you can rule out the probability of wood bloat causing windows to stick. However, it is highly likely that your home is constructed on expansive clay soil.

Expansive Clay Soil

The hot Texas sun scorches the soil during the summer months, robbing its moisture and causing the clay to shrink. When the clay soil retracts, the foundation moves as well. When moisture levels increase in the winter, the clay swells and the foundation lifts. This kind of back and forth movement stresses the concrete slab and often leads to cracking.

Homeowners tend to notice the most extreme signs of foundation settling during periods of excessive dryness or after a heavy rainfall. 

If you have a combination of sticking doors, wide cracks and displaced masonry, then it’s time to call in the professionals who can best help you deal with your foundation problems.

Schedule a foundation evaluation today at 817-576-1973

Testimonial: Not Every Foundation Needs a Repair

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7 Tips for Home Foundation Maintenance

Foundation Maintenance

You’ve probably heard this before; an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. It’s a cliché for a reason — because it’s true! The cost of foundation maintenance can be minimal and require little time and effort, but a foundation repair can cost you thousands of dollars!

Consider these 7 Tips for Home Foundation Maintenance:

  • If you see minor cracks in your home, don’t ignore them. Write down where you found the cracks, and measure how long they are. Check the length of the cracks every couple of months or so. If the cracks are getting longer, it may be time for you to get a specialist to inspect your home and your foundation.
  • Maintain a constant level of moisture for the soil around your house. The soil you find all over the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex can absorb and lose considerable amounts of water. During months of heavy rain, the soil will swell up when it becomes wet. During the summer and other dry months, the soil will shrink. This constant expansion and contraction put stress on the foundation of your home. To prevent possible damage, you may need to use soaker hoses to keep the moisture level steady. Watering your home foundation won’t fix your current foundation problems, but it will slow down the rate of deterioration.
  • Provide drainage away from the foundation perimeter and ensure there is no standing water near the foundation wall or slab. This may encourage even moisture content underneath the slab and reduces soil movement under the foundation slab.
  • Make sure the trees around your home aren’t causing problems for your foundation. Check with a specialist, especially if the trees around your home are large. Be sure to water the trees around your home in the dry season. Don’t be too stingy with the water, as large trees can absorb up to 150 gallons of water. If the trees can’t find the needed moisture, they will venture towards the soil beneath your home’s foundation.
  • Keep the ground elevations of the flower beds around your home 3 to 4 inches below the slab. The flower bed should be sloped away from the foundation for proper drainage. Doing this keeps the moisture from seeping into the wall system or inside the home.
  • Maintain a steady temperature inside your home. This will help prevent (or at least reduce) the tendency of the concrete slab to expand and contract. That means you shouldn’t let too long a time pass when you don’t heat or cool your home.
  • Check for leaks inside and around your home. This includes checking your sewer line, potable water lines, and the plumbing system. Leaking water can cause adjacent areas of the soil to have inconsistent moisture levels, which will damage your foundation.

Following these 7 maintenance tips will go a long way in helping to protect your home foundation from damage and costly repairs. You might also consider an annual inspection as part of your ongoing foundation maintenance program.

TEC Foundation Inspections

Schedule today! 817-576-1973

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