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.
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.
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 email@example.com to get on the list.
Home Inspector | Dallas Fort Worth Arlington Mansfield
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 a TEC Licensed Professional Home Inspector, and he gave us this Home Inspection Checklist, 10 Ways to Prepare:
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.
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.
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.
Dallas Fort Worth Foundation Repair
Sometimes when foundation repair is being done in the Dallas and Fort Worth area, some special circumstances may be taken into consideration, including earthquake potential and the structural problems of older or historic homes.
Dallas Fort Worth Foundation Repair – Special Considerations
Foundations and earthquakes
You don’t often think of the Dallas–Ft Worth area as earthquake-prone. But the Dallas area has recorded some fairly strong earthquakes recently. In January 2013, a 3.0-magnitude earthquake hit northern Texas, with the epicenter just 3.5 miles east of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. In October of 2012, the same approximate area was hit by two earthquakes measuring 3.4 and 3.1-magnitude.
According to Cliff Froehlich, associate director and senior research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, these earthquakes are happening because the area just south of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport had been inundated with wastewater due to hydraulic fracturing. Although the water is no longer being added, the damage to the faults may have been already done.
If earthquakes in the area become more frequent, then the foundation repair may include strengthening it against earthquakes. Doing so may prevent extensive damage, which may be so serious that the only solution afterwards is to completely rebuild. An earthquake can make foundation problems even worse. Even with insurance the cost of repairing earthquake damage may run into the tens of thousands of dollars, while strengthening a foundation against earthquakes may cost only a few thousand dollars.
Old and Historic Homes
If you live in one of these stately residences, you may not be aware of structural problems in your home. Many of these homes were constructed with no thought given to the weight that the foundation has to bear.
Here are some examples:
- One common problem in old two-story homes involves point load deflection. In most of these older homes, a considerable amount of the 2nd-story weight is passed on to the ground floor through the walls. Sometimes, instead of a wall there’s a header to transfer the upper weight, and the weight is passed to one side of a door frame. That point load rests on the floor, and eventually the floor will bow.
- Hallway walls are generally load-bearing, but a wall may sometimes have no girders and supporting piers. As the years pass, the wall and the floor will sag and bow down.
- Sometimes the girder was put in the middle of the hallway, with both hallway walls unsupported. This is often the reason why the middle of a hallway will have a hump.
If your home foundation has any unusual problems, or if there are special circumstances involved, then it’s a good idea to contact a qualified structural engineer. They can then provide you with a detailed foundation inspection report. You will find a number of experienced companies that are well-versed in dealing with the special circumstances surrounding soil movement in the area as it pertains to Dallas Ft Worth foundation repair.
Texas’ Shifting Soil – How to Avoid Foundation Problems
Geological conditions that prevail in each state differ according to their location. Soil, as a natural resource, has different values depending on the industry that they are being used in. In the construction industry, the stability and/or compactness of the soil, or the lack of it, accounts for many of the foundation issues that arise.
Environmentally, Texas can be called a “complex” state due to the wide range of variation in vegetation, climate, landscape, and geology. Texas recognizes more than 1,300 different soil types, with each type having distinct properties that determine how it can best be used.
Texas Shifting Soil
Most homeowners, realtors, and commercial property owners are aware of Texas’ shifting soil. There has been some level of controversy about the quality of Texas soil, with reference to the construction of residential and commercial structures. There are those who believe that, more than an inherent flaw in the soil quality, what makes for the number of Texas foundation failures is sub-standard construction. On the other hand, there many more who maintain that foundation failures are definitely attributable to the soil shifts.
Take Decisive Action
Most experts agree that at the first sign of foundation problems you should contact a professional inspector and have your foundation assessed immediately.
Additionally, it’s also practical to consult foundation specialists who have wide-ranging knowledge and expertise in home foundation repair. These specialists know engineered solutions like the use of cellular concrete, helical piers, and wall anchors, as applicable to your situation, depending on what type of foundation you have (slab or pier and beam), and what part of Texas you are living in.
Moreover, foundation specialists are always in touch with the latest technology to help homeowners, realtors, and commercial property owners avoid home foundation problems.
Best Practices for dealing with Texas Shifting Soil
Here are a couple of best practices to help you avoid home foundation problems:
- Before purchasing land, consult professionals who will be able to give you an honest assessment of whether or not you can expect to face foundation problems in the future because of the soil.
- If you have already bought the land, or a structure along with the land, hire the services of foundation specialists or professionals, such as foundation engineers, who can assess your land, foundation and structure, and assess whether or not repairs may be needed. If so, they can also give you the extent of repairs needed, and how much it would cost.
Taking a proactive approach by having your land or property evaluated by an expert foundation engineer now will save you money later. The longevity and integrity of your foundation determines, in a large way, the longevity and integrity of your home or commercial building.