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By benchmarking your foundation, you can differentiate foundation damage that requires immediate attention and minor problems that can wait.

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It’s no secret that time takes its toll on everything and the same goes for your home. The problems your home may encounter are many and your foundation could be one of them. After a while, every building becomes prone to settling. 

The speed at which settlement will occur depends on two things: the type of soil beneath the structure and the weather conditions in the area. Still, it’s sometimes hard to diagnose the problem and you can easily mistake one for the other. 

The fact that modern homeowners enjoy mixing traditional and modern design elements only makes matters worse. Sure, it’s a great idea to spark some life into your home, but that can come at a cost of being unable to find the source of your foundation problems

Let’s explore the basics of foundation repair and benchmarking and how it can help homeowners avoid foundation problems mentioned above. We’ll cover all the necessary details that will help you keep your home and family safe for years to come. 

Foundation Settlement 

Before we introduce you to benchmarking, it’s key to explain what settlement is. Foundation settlement is a process that makes your home sink into the ground. It can happen if the soil underneath the structure begins to shift. If you don’t stop it in its tracks, settlement can produce critical structural damage to your home. 

Foundation settlement occurs when changes affect the soil beneath and around the foundation. We’ll list five of the most common soil issues your home might face. Of course, they’re not the only ones, but you can bet that one of them is the reason why you’re losing sleep these days. 

  • Weak soil: Some soil types are simply unable to carry the load above them. As such, the footings of the foundation will press it so much that the structure will begin to settle. 
  • Poor compaction: The common practice when you’re building a home is to rearrange the soil on your property in some way. However, if you don’t properly compact the soil, it can cause foundation settlement. This will cause damage to the building’s structural integrity, endangering your safety. 
  • Wet soil: If the soil beneath your home experiences a sudden change of moisture, it will allow for foundation settlement. This is most common for silt or clay soils. The change in moisture is usually due to water leakage, bad plumbing, or an excessive amount of groundwater. 
  • Soil consolidation: If you pour heavier soil over lighter ones when preparing the foundation of your home, they will consolidate over time. The original, weak soil will succumb to the pressure of the new one, causing the structure above it to begin sinking. 
  • Maturing vegetation: Like all other life forms, trees and bushes in your yard grow with time. As such, their appetites will grow, draining the soil beneath your home of water and other nutrients. Also, their roots will expand, further endangering your home’s structural integrity. 

Settlement Signs to Look out For 

Luckily, foundation settlement isn’t immediate. It takes time to occur, giving you a chance to prevent damage. As such, you should keep in mind the following five signs of your home settling: 

  • Stair-step cracking is a typical sign that there’s something wrong. As the cracks and fractures widen, it will indicate that the walls of your foundation are rotating outwards. 
  • If you notice that your chimney is beginning to split from your home, you can be certain that it’s due to foundation settlement. 
  • Another common sign of foundation settlement is if your doors and windows begin to separate from their frames. 
  • A settling foundation will create cracks in drywall surrounding the windows and doors. It will usually happen on the upper levels of your home. 
  • The fifth symptom of foundation settlement is sticking doors and windows. Since they’re no longer level with their frames, they’ll be unable to close or open properly. 

The Best Solution for Foundation Settlement 

The best way to mend the situation is to use push piers. The builders will drive these steel piers into the ground beneath your foundation. Although the process takes place outside your home, the piers won’t be visible when repairs are over. If the crew does its job properly, the push piers will not only prevent further settlement, but they can potentially lift your foundation to its original place. 

How Does Benchmarking Work? 

In case you notice any of the signs that your foundation is beginning to settle, you should call for professional help so a team of experts can visit your home and assess the situation. More often than not, if settlement has been determined, inspectors will recommend one of many solutions. Should they recommend piering, they will also recommend benchmarking be done after the installation.  

Once the piers are installed, foundation specialists will benchmark by driving rivets into the exterior foundation wall above each pier. This is done with the help of a laser level. Benchmarking will help inspectors that come to your home in the future understand whether the piers are working, and your home is stable and not settling.  

Should You Try Benchmarking Yourself? 

Realizing that you can’t repair every single problem around your home can be pretty disturbing. But benchmarking isn’t something you’d like to get wrong and installing push piers does require previous experience. Therefore, we’d say that it’s best to stay away from DIY solutions and contact professionals. 

Our teams in Alabama and Tennessee are happy to visit your home and provide you with a free inspection and quote. They’ll take a look and offer solutions that will help you keep your home safe. Don’t hesitate to contact us so you can have professional help at your disposal in no time.

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