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Old 09-24-2014, 12:09 AM   #1
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residential slab leveling and repair


Hello all,

I have been asked by my friend (yes, there is such an individual)
to research a contemporary problem she is experiencing, this request
tendered to me despite my assertion that I know absolutely nothing
about this particular subject, which subject is residential concrete
slab leveling/repair.

That having been said, I am a home DIY aficionado, particularly
in the fields of carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and welding. So,
I am familiar with most construction terms and phraseologies should
anyone decide to answer.

To the chase: my friend has a residence in DFW area which she is
about to repair and sell on the market. To that end, her first
issue is the fact that her house has settled unevenly, leaving a 6
inch deviation between the highest measured point and the lowest
one in her home. The numerical depression appears to increase in magnitude
as one end of the house is approached.

She hired a engineer to effect the abovementioned measurements, and
his suggestion was to install 8 new piers within the inside
floor space of her house. I suggested that she get a second opinion,
for which I hired, for her, what I believed to be an engineer but who
turned out to be an engineer trainee.

This individual's suggestion was that she install 20 new piers
within the inside floor space of her house, which would in his
opinion rectify the existing disparity of height within the house's
slab.

When she expressed dismay over the new suggestion, the young
trainee offered that he knew of people who were willing to buy
"ugly" homes for a discounted price. It is noteworthy here
that this home is a very nice (aside from the instant problem),
multibedroom, brick home in a nice residential neighborhood in
the DFW area.

Both the engineer and the trainee spuriously concurred that the settling
was probably due to a leak beneath her slab. Initially the culprit
was described as a water leak, to which we responded that she is
experiencing no upturn in her water usage. Then it was proposed that
the leak was probably of a waste disposal nature, to which we
replied that there have been no instances of any errant odors within
or without her house and that the exterior shows absolutely no sign
of any leakage whatsoever. At which point, both consultants
reiterated their water leak suspicions.

I believe that the settling is due to a movement of soil which was
not properly compacted, leaving virtual voids, when this sub-division
was built and which has been exacerbated by the swelling and
shrinkage of the soil which is predominantly clay. I base this
observation on only anecdotal evidence: the neighbor across the
alley from her related to me an event that happened a few years
back in which a hole spontaneously opened on the road in front
front of their house which literally was large enough to swallow
a car-- and allegedly did. He also said that a similar, but much smaller
subsidence, happened in the alley contiguous between him and her.

I apologize for this rambling missive, but I wanted everyone to
know something of the history of this issue before they responded.
In any event, the damage that she is seeing is (1) a separation
of the seams in the sheet-rock of the walls as well as ceiling and
floor wood trim, (2) multiple cracks in the ceramic tile flooring,
(3) a misfit of the doors and their respective frames, and (4) random
cracking in the outside brickwork.

So, I began to research information troves on the internet relative
to her problem, and I fortuitously stumbled upon this forum.

I encountered a number of remedial hopefuls in addition to
piering; to wit, polyurethane injection (foam jacking) and
mud jacking.

My questions then are these: is foam jacking a realistic
option for raising the slab to level within her house-- neither
the engineer nor the trainee even mentioned options other than
piering? Is there a benefit for foam jacking verses mud
jacking verses piering? If piers are indeed the way to go, how can
she be sure that the piers were driven down to solid bedrock to
consummate their supporting purpose? Would not the slab crack even
further- or even break in pieces- with 20 piers installed?

Any and all suggestions or insights will be appreciated, and I thank
you in advance for your patience and courtesy.

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Old 09-24-2014, 01:12 AM   #2
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residential slab leveling and repair


Oh my god, i can hardly believe that I read all of that.

Anyway, I might seriously consider raising the house off the slab-on-grade foundation and re-compacting and pouring a new slab and footing.

Expensive I know but it can be done as I have done this myself.

Andy.

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Old 09-24-2014, 11:48 AM   #3
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Hello Andy,

Indeed! I apologize for the rather lengthy previous post, but I felt it was
necessary for perspective. Nonetheless, I very much appreciate your
suggestive input.

Talon
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Old 09-24-2014, 06:25 PM   #4
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OPS, your post reads something like an 18th century novel. Very different than the average post on this forum.

I have inspected many houses in the Gulf Coast area, and a few in Texas, that have experienced differential settlement. The problem is often that the clay soils in this area (and other areas in the U.S.) experience major shrinkage and swelling as the moisture content of the soil changes (they are called sensitive clays). So after several years of prolonged drought, not uncommon in Texas, the soil shrinks. After it rains for a while, the soil will swell up. Unfortunately, the amount of shrinkage and swelling that occurs can vary substantially across the slab, as it is a function of the exact amount of water, and the amount of sensitive clay at a particular location.

The problem is so common that an entire industry has grown up in Texas alone to solve the problem of settlement. Solutions include steel piles, concrete piles, mudjacking, helical piers, grout injection, and other more exotic techniques. The cost can be substantial, and the quality of the results depends to a large extent on the skill and knowledge of the contractor.

I often suggest to people that they first hire a registered professional structural engineer, with local knowledge, to evaluate the site and prepare recommendations. It sounds like you tried this, but perhaps did not vet the engineer carefully enough. Sometimes people try to save money by hiring a contractor directly, and this can work fine if you get the right contractor. But of course the contractor has a financial interest in selling you his particular solution, with a professional engineer you should get an independent opinion from a person with no financial stake in the solution.
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Old 09-24-2014, 10:17 PM   #5
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Hello Daniel,

I just checked my posting and found your response. Thank you very kindly for your insight and suggestions. You are quite right; neither of us had the foresight to vet the chosen engineers, which was a bad mistake. As for your insightful address of the possible source of the problem, I am especially thankful; it seems to strike a chord of familiarity within my mind.

Again, thank you, very kindly.

Talon
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Old 09-24-2014, 10:39 PM   #6
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Besides the issues with the clay soil, how is the drainage around the house. Do the downspouts carry the water from the gutters away from the house or just straight down? If straight down that could also cause the settling.
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Old 09-25-2014, 04:10 AM   #7
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There has been quite a bit of research done on methods for re-levelling houses following the Christchurch earthquakes, both the methods already mentioned, and a few others. Some of the resulting info may be useful to you. Many houses settled unevenly following liquefaction of the soils beneath them. Some links to start: http://canterburyresidentialrebuild....ion-guidelines ; http://www.dbh.govt.nz/userfiles/fil...ons-part-c.pdf ; http://www.dbh.govt.nz/UserFiles/Fil...on-options.pdf and http://cera.govt.nz/video/ribraft-tc...ation-solution
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Old 09-25-2014, 01:16 PM   #8
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Thank you very kindly for the informative links. I have not yet had the opportunity to read and digest this material, but upon preview I found it fascinating and in places informative.

Talon
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Old 09-25-2014, 04:36 PM   #9
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most often, push piers are driven to predetermined targets measured in psi/kips resistance,,, structural foam is relatively new &, in technique, similar to mudjacking altho the foam adds little static load to the soils,,, find the right pe would be a great 1st step,,, local realtors would also have some valuable information to share,,, expansive soils can be troublesome - the slab may also be post-tensioned as that method is also common
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Old 09-26-2014, 09:05 PM   #10
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residential slab leveling and repair


You need to find someone who has actually successfully repaired a house with the same problem. Don't trust anyone who thinks they know how to fix it. Find someone who has actually demonstrated that they can fix it. To that end I suggest your friend start visiting everyone in the neighborhood who has a house built by the same builder. Ask if they've had similar issues and if they have, if they have had a repair done. If so find out if the repair was satisfactory and how long it has remained satisfactory and who did it.

This is likely a common problem in the area and she just needs to sleuth out what has been proven solution.
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Old 09-26-2014, 11:28 PM   #11
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This sounds more along the lines of sink hole to me.?
If you have the time...

https://www.google.com/search?q=who+...a&channel=fflb

Also, is there any kind of mining in the area either from the past or present.? This link words can't describe, and it's because of a salt mine. I bet they filled it with toxic waste then punched a hole in it.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/vid...ws-trees-video

.........

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Last edited by ron45; 09-26-2014 at 11:38 PM.
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