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JMonaco

08:57AM | 04/04/05
Member Since: 03/25/05
4 lifetime posts
Bvbasement
Cracks are appearing in the walls at the corner of the doors on the second floor. Door latches no longer latch. Double-pane windows are cracking too. It looks like the house is tilting. It is 18 years old and this just started two years ago.

Any advice?


JMonaco

08:01PM | 04/04/05
Member Since: 03/25/05
4 lifetime posts
thanks for replying. "Two YEARS ago" (not weeks).

The house has a full basement. It is on a hill. The ground level at the front of the house is a couple of feet below the top of the foundation. The ground level at the rear of the house is a few inches below the basement floor level.

The house seems to be tilting to the rear and to the south. That corner would be the lowest on the slope.

It occurred to me (actually in a dream, really) that there may be no footings at the back of the house. Footings would have been required for the foundation if the rear level were uniform throughout but not if the front level were uniform. (We are in Zone 6)

Without footings, successive winter freezes would shift the foundation.

However there are no cracks in the basement floor or walls so I don't think that corner is weakening.

The best I can figure is that the whole foundation has tilted as the ground has shifted. The last few years have been very wet and the soil is sandy.

There is no other evidence of this, however. (things don't roll along the floor.)

The real question is how do you compensate for this?

MistressEll

09:47PM | 04/04/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
I'd get someone there with the proper field measuring equipment (like surveyors use) to first determine that your house is really pitching/leaning. Perhaps since your home is on a grade something significant is happening underneath the home or hill/burm. A Geologist consultation might be your best bet.

Out where my extended family lives (kansas) homes have been known to slide down hills due to their lack of requiring proper geological studies of areas prior to building. Since you mention that recent years weather has been overly wet, and other factors elsewhere may be effecting something near your home. Perhaps with this information you can determine what is actually causing the problem, then consult a building ENGINEER for solutions to the existing problem (if its really leaning and not an optical illusion or the trees leaning and grade erosion) and solutions to the future processes that can be expected. (geological information).

MistressEll

09:52PM | 04/04/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
you mention there is no evidence of the floors being pitched (pencil doesn't roll across the floor) but have you applied a level to the walls interior and exterior and determined if the walls remain plumb? doorways? windows? How about a level on the floors?

JMonaco

07:47AM | 04/05/05
Member Since: 03/25/05
4 lifetime posts
Never heard of it!

Is a mudjack like a lumberjack?

I haven't yet checked with a level but will do so and report back.

Houses usually do settle after construction, but sixteen years later? Has anyone heard of this?

Can I attach a guyline to the northeast corner and pull it back into shape? Is this a known technique?

Thanks for the responses!

tomh

11:08AM | 04/05/05
Member Since: 07/01/03
549 lifetime posts
From your description, this is a very unusual situation. It would be nearly impossible for significant settling to occur, and not see cracks in masonry walls or floors. Also, a lack of perceptible tilt in the basement floor seems to make foundation settling unlikey.

Cracks, shifting doorways and breaking windows on the upper levels do indicate a structural situation, that may or may not originate in the foundation. If the house has racked, or settled, this can be very quickly determined using a transit level or other basic carpentry tools (bubble level). You can make this assessment and a contractor could quantify any alignment problems if they exist. That would be your first step. Once quantified, you can assess cause and repair options, if any.

Even though you have a walk-out or daylight basement, the footer is continuous around the house. You probably have masonry walls in the front and sides, and a framed wall in the rear. When checking for level, also check for vertical on the walls.

MistressEll

05:28AM | 04/07/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
Mudjacking is where bore holes are cut into a concrete item that isn't footed, under pressure a slurry of mostly CLAY and lots of water and sometimes some binders (rare and usually minimal)are pumped under pressure with the idea of lifting the concrete. It is NOT a thing that can be successful on foundations long-term. If the area is footed the actions just serve to sever the footing or crack or bust up what was a good concrete bond, and if there is any cracking, the slurry under pressure will go to that area of least resistance, fill it, and further damage the area. The clay will eventually rinse away...and then you end up with a worse situation in the first place.

Mud Jacking is best left to free standing sidewalks, patios that are NOT tied in or too close to foundations...that you are having to replace anyway to correct the problem but willing to throw some money at it to 'gamble' on it might working and saving the hassle of digging it out and completely replacing for a few more years, knowing that if the system fails, or during jacking or the first few years after, it makes the situation worse (heaving/cracking, twisiting, putting pressure on other areas not currently with problems causing problems in those other areas)then you'll be replacing anyway. Its a gamble always, and I've only had lasting success after 2-3 frost freeze heave, thaw cycles about 35 percent of the time. The other problem is that the epoxy plug filler often pops out like pop-corn after the first or second freeze/thaw cycle, so I usually patch myself when this occurs with hydralic cement (looks ugly though). success is only when you fully relief the jacked area, and then have much larger than normal expansion isolation and do surface drainage correction, as that clay will wash out very easily underground. any thing such as foundation/footings etc. which are tied in with re-bar and grids and the like will usually crack at application, or down the road when any part of that slurry dries out too much, and washes away with the next water exposure. The slurry will also travel the path, (when applied or later when "re-constituted" by ground water/drainage)and later plug up and choke things like drainage fields for septic and/or your drain tiles for your foundation then you end up with more hydrostatic pressure on your foundation walls and more trouble. I don't know of a single "structural engineer" (not architect sorry can't spell today) that would put his license/reputation on the line and ever recommend this as a permanent solution, but might use the process to temporarily lift something to later remove/replace a suspended/supported structure to create a pier footing tie-in down to bedrock or something.

Usually these mud-jackers are fly-by night type companies, changing names every few years, and moving on. You encounter about the same reliability and risks as those "black top coaters", lots of bad ones, a few good ones, but the process itself has limited useful application.

The resulting slurry under the concrete is not rated or stable or strong enough to be supportive long-term for foundation elements.

I only get areas jacked that are "free standing" so, like in a sidewalk, I rent the wet saw equipment and completely isolate the section to be jacked with double the normal width for expansion joint, excavate and put in a steel plate to isolate the "foundation" of the areas not to be jacked. If it shares any common grid or re-bar, it will end up heaving or cracking the shared area, or the area will settle, heave or behave differently after a few years of freeze, heave/thaw cycles and/or a few years of rainfall. If the issues that caused the failure (drainage etc.) aren't corrected, the same process will wash away the clay that much faster.

mud=jack only areas that you would have to replace anyway as a 1/3 chance that you can post-pone that eventuality for a few years if successful, and a 1/3 chance that you will end up in those few years replacing a greater area if when the mudjacking fails it damages more of your concrete.


MistressEll

05:37AM | 04/07/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
perhaps the drainage system for your foundation footings on the "up slope" side have been choked off (don't know if you have pvc or clay pipes filled with stone in a stone bed befow the backfill type of thing) and its not affording you the drainage anymore and the buildup of pressure from the up-slope side is 'strong-arming' or pushing the house -- could be. 18 years and not careful maintance of the grade, and perhaps gaps near the foundation allowing more top soil/rain wash down might account for it showing up now (regards to K2's comment that it would show up after 16-18 years) or even later. Again an engineer could assist you in eliminating many factors and coming up with some very reasonable hypothosises as to a cause and smart plan.

MistressEll

05:49AM | 04/07/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
regards tomh "unusual" its really not when its a "walk out" basement on the downside of the slope-type arrangement with a higher slope (home being built in the middle of a hill or mountain) when horizontal tie-ins aren't established as well as deep footings to rock layer (like 30 or more feet depending on where it is). Homes slide off hills all the time in california in excessive rain fall, in Kansas this is a notoriously common event, soon after construction, 5-7 years later, even 20 years later. also ground cover/construction "up hill" or de-forestation "up hill" can increase water run-off surface run-off as well as underground run-off and add additional stresses that may not have existed when her home was first designed/built. For example maybe a home completed up-hill seven years ago, and ground coverage, reduced "up hill" absorbtion, increased run-off and eventually added stress and washed out on the down'hill side, or choked off her "drain tiles" or whatever. perhaps up hill there was some clearing event of vegatation and the absorbant loamy layer has finally erroded over time and now not as much absorbtion is taking place and she has increased run-off issues that are just now rearing their "ugly head".

Again...consult an engineer he can also determine the degree of hydrostatic and other pressures on your up-hill side to your foundation and footings, and his "eagle eye" will also tell you if the effect you dreamed about and think you see regards to "tilt" actually exists in the first place.

MistressEll

06:48AM | 04/07/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
yeah realtors usually aren't in it for the long term solutions, just usualy cheap quick fixes to dump it on the next unsuspecting soul. I wouldn't trust a realtor's advice on anything other than apparent market value (with a grain of salt) and comparison sales information in the local area, period. Would never trust their recommendations for financing sources, closing lawyers, or home inspectors either, and I'd never EVER trust a realtor who was listing a property to be my seller's representive (conflict of interest both directions)! Frankly my opinion of Realtors is about equal or LOWER than "used car salesmen". I trust them about as far as I can spit (and I usually end up spitting on my chest because I can't spit worth a dang!).
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