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Frequently Asked Questions

As Washington’s local expert in foundation repair services, we understand that you may have many questions about our services or process. We’re happy to help – see our common questions and answers below or reach out to our team today!

Foundation Repair & Service Information

What is foundation repair?

Foundation repair refers to the process of fixing or stabilizing the foundation of a building or structure that has experienced damage or instability.

At R&R Foundation Specialist, we provide comprehensive foundation repair services, including pier and beam repair, concrete slab reinforcement, crack refinement and repair, chimney repair, and more, using industry-leading tools and techniques including carbon fiber reinforced polymer.

How does foundation repair work?

Foundation repair starts by accurately and expertly assessing the type of soil settlement and overall damage to your home or business’ structure. We’ve put together some critical resources to help you better understand how it works – check out our Youtube Channel for more information.

What are the signs of a damaged foundation?

The primary signs of foundation damage are:

  1. Foundation or drywall cracks
  2. Cracks in the brick
  3. Foundation settling or sinking
  4. Sloping & uneven floors and staircases
  5. Gaps in floor
  6. Bowed or buckling walls
  7. Windows & doors that do not operate properly
  8. Leaning or settling chimneys

What are the primary causes of settlement?

The #1 cause of settlement is fill dirt, followed by pour soils and under built footings. Water can contribute to the settlement but is not typically the root cause. If the home or business is constructed on good soil, water won’t cause settlement unless it has completely eroded the soil under the foundation’s footings.

How does soil settlement occur?

Uneven settlement of a foundation is always caused by some form of shifting of the soil beneath the foundation, but this shifting can take place for several reasons.

Soils with weak bearing capacity:

Some soils are weak and highly compressible by nature, and buildings erected on such soils require special footings to spread the load over a wider area. This tends to be an issue about which local building architects are well familiar, and it is generally addressed during the excavation and construction of the foundation.

Poorly compacted soil:

Building sites for commercial or residential structures often consist of land that has been artificially leveled and filled for ease of construction. When properly compacted, this fill soil can provide a perfectly solid base for supporting foundations, but when not compacted, the soil may settle and compress unevenly under the foundation, leading to structural damage.

Changes in soil moisture:

Soil that is either too dry or too wet can cause foundation settlement. When moisture builds up, soils saturate and lose their load-bearing capacity. Dry soils shrink in volume: Either situation can cause uneven settling of the foundation. Soil moisture changes can come about due to prolonged drought or by mature trees and other plantings that draw moisture from the soil. In rare instances, leaking in subfloor heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning ductwork can affect the soil moisture beneath the foundation.

Trees and vegetation:

Large trees, shrubs, and other vegetation planted along a building’s foundation or close to it can gradually draw the moisture out of the soil and cause it to shrink. This situation is more common with shallow foundations than with basement-level foundations that extend down many feet. When foundation settlement begins to occur several decades after construction, the soil has likely shrunk because large trees are drying out the soil.

Soil consolidation:

The weight of a building on the underlying soil, especially fill soils that were added just prior to construction, will naturally compress the soil. Clay soils, in particular, become very dense as moisture is squeezed out. As the soil consolidates and shrinks, the foundation settles downward, a movement that can cause cracks and other structural damage.

Vibration:

Vibration of the soil from seismic activity or even from nearby road traffic can cause soils to settle or shift unevenly, leading to structural damage to the building.

What is Differential Settlement and how is it a risk to my foundation?

Differential settlement occurs when one part of a structure’s foundation settles more, or faster, than the other. If one edge of a structure moves more than another, the structure will tilt, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. All buildings settle somewhat in the years following construction, and this natural phenomenon generally causes no problems if the settling is uniform across the building’s foundation or all of its pier supports. But when one section of the foundation settles at a faster rate than the others, it can lead to major structural damage to the building itself.

Differential settlement is not usually a sign of carpentry construction flaws, although some people view it that way. Instead, the phenomenon results when the soil beneath the structure expands, contracts, or shifts in an uneven fashion, causing the foundation to settle at an uneven rate. Thus, the villain is not the carpentry construction practice, but rather the prior evaluation and preparation of the building site itself and the construction of the foundation.

How is differential settlement caused?

The primary causes of differential settlement are:

  1. Soil that wasn’t properly compacted prior to construction
  2. Poor drainage around the foundation or water causing consolidation
  3. Poor soil conditions
  4. Footings not designed to properly support the load of the structure
  5. Natural disasters like earthquakes and floods

How is settlement prevented?

Typically there is only one method to prevent settlement: Piling/piering is the primary solution. Settlement is typically caused by soil consolidation of the top layers of soil. Driving piering past the pour soils to hit the load bearing soils below the home is the only permanent fix for settlement.

What type of piers do you install to underpin my foundation?

Choosing the appropriate method for foundation repair is a big deal, and many homeowners do not realize that there are several methods that will provide different degrees of stability, each with their own pros and cons. At R&R we install four types of underpinning SYSTEMS, each specific to the conditions of the project:

  1. Pin Piles 
  2. Eccentric Push Piers 
  3. Eccentric Helical Piles 
  4. Concentric Push Piers 

Each job is unique and may require one – or more than one of these technology options.. 

Our Structural Design Technicians  will do a careful inspection then recommend how to most effectively raise and restore the foundation.

How does R&R address the different types of causes to settlement and foundation damage?

Piering/piling is the only way to stop settlement. Some contractors recommend pouring larger footings, but 99% of the time this only adds additional weight to the already compromised soils and increases the rate of settlement. At R&R Foundation, we develop a customized plan that directly addresses the individual soil and damage for your foundation. We start with a full inspection,  by measuring the home and completing a level survey. Then we calculate loads and layout piles/piers to ensure success of the repair process.

Why are seawall repairs needed?

Typically, because of age and erosion, and just like much of the concrete along the coastal waters of Western Washington and the Puget Sound, most traditional construction materials eventually fail.

Are cracks in my seawall a cause for concern?

Since seawalls are built on the shorelines of our coastal waterways, beaches, and lakes, the potential for foundation shifting is greater – this factor makes cracks in the cement cap or face of a seawall a much more serious matter. Winter storms put pressure on seawall construction no matter if you’re in the Puget Sound or near an area lake or river. Storms accelerate erosion just by moving water back and forth at the base of the seawall, stealing material from under it, just as it decimates the sand on local beaches.

What does it mean if I notice signs of leaning in my seawall?

In most cases this either means that your wall tiebacks have failed (often due to corrosion) or that your seawall is eroding at its foundation. It’s another sign that you need work done – and quickly.

What can be done if my seawall is bowing or leaning?

To prevent the wall from leaning further toward the water, R&R installs heavy duty helical wall anchors and tiebacks that are buried in stable soils and affixed to the face of your seawall to prevent further movement.

Why is my chimney leaning?

Possible causes your chimney has detached from the house or a reason that your chimney is leaning could be:

  1. Soil Settlement. The earth can move and inherently settles. This ongoing process can cause settlement to foundations and chimney components.
  2. Poor construction. A chimney that is improperly designed or poorly constructed can begin to lean and eventually detach itself from the house.
  3. Aging Construction. Prolonged exposure to the elements in Western Washington can over time cause deterioration in the chimney and compromise its structural integrity.

What are the most commons signs that you have a bowing foundation wall?

Bulging walls in your foundation are usually an indicator that severe damage has occurred or is about to happen. R&R often stabilizes bowing foundation walls with inward movement with 2” or less.

How much wall deflection or inward movement is acceptable?

Any notable inward movement should warrant cause for a professional evaluation.

How can I identify if my foundation is water damaged and my basement or crawl space is in need of repair?

Understanding whether your foundation is water damaged or not is pretty straightforward. You need to watch out for the following signs.

Moisture or Dampness?

A home’s foundation should stay dry; if not, it can easily turn into a breeding ground for mold and mildew. If you have noticed your foundation walls are constantly damp or wet, water is most likely seeping through. This can also lead to more problems such as dry wood rot and structural damage to supports around your home.

Foundation Cracks?

While not all foundation cracks are a sign of moisture problems, they can be an indicator that water from the exterior of the foundation has exerted stress on your foundation walls, causing them to crack.

Wall or Discoloration?

Since concrete is porous and can easily discolor when groundwater seeps through, staining can be a result of the minerals that form when the water dries out. This staining can be found on your foundation walls, carpets, or wallcoverings and is most likely an indication that water has made its way through the foundation walls. In some cases the discoloration can also be mold that will leave black stains on the surface.

Musty Smell or Odors?

Once mildew or mold has formed on your concrete foundation walls, it will most likely release a damp or distinct smell that can migrate to other areas of your home. 

If my home has survived many earthquakes in the past, is there still a need for seismic retrofitting services?

Since earthquakes vary in magnitude this does not mean your building is earthquake proof. If a more powerful earthquake occurs, would your home still maintain its structural integrity? If you would like a professional opinion on the structural integrity of your home’s foundation, our design specialists can identify any possible signs of past damage and prescribe a reinforcement plan to repair and reinforce your most valuable investment.

About R&R Foundation Specialist

What experience do you have repairing foundations?

Cory Myron, our senior Structural Design Technician and founder, has poured more than 400 residential and commercial foundations in the Puget Sound Region dating back to the early 1990s. Since Washington state doesn’t provide a standardized training, we rely on the expert knowledge and decades of experience from Cory and our leadership team. In the process, we have developed a competitive team of foundation repair experts, who are among the best in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more about our company’s history here.

Since there isn’t a formal training or education process for foundation repair in the state of Washington, it is critical that your contractor has a thorough understanding of your foundation so that it can be properly diagnosed and repaired. There is no replacement for our team’s experience and the proof is in our client testimonials

Have you completed foundation repair services in my area?

We service the state of Washington with a specialized focus in Western Washington, including Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue, Olympia, and more.

Over the years R&R has cataloged thousands of projects in Western Washington and the Pacific Northwest and gathered important geotechnical data that allows us to provide an accurate foundation assessment and repair estimate. The soil conditions in Washington can vary greatly; even just a few miles away the soil properties and makeup can be different to work with. It’s critical to the success of your foundation repair to work with experts who understand the variation in Washington’s soil types in order to prescribe the appropriate repair.

Do you work with subcontractors on your projects?

No – At R&R Foundation Specialist, we pride ourselves on quality workmanship that is completed by our team of qualified, well-trained, in-house employees. The use of subcontractors vs. employees can invite delays, miscommunication, and unchecked quality of work. 

What types of properties do you perform services on?

We work with both residential properties and commercial properties, including local businesses, apartment complexes, shopping centers and more.

What type of commercial structures does R&R repair?

From industrial warehouses to multi-use buildings, such as retail, restaurants, hotels, and parking garages, R&R Foundation Specialist offers structural repair solutions for every type of commercial structure.

What information should I include when inquiring about an inspection?

  1. The signs of damage you’ve noticed
  2. If you own the home
  3. If you have previously attempted to fit the problem or if a previous homeowner has (or any other critical work completed in the home’s history)
  4. What kind of home is it (mobile, manufactured)?
  5. Any building or historical information about the home that may be relevant (materials or work history)
  6. If known, the kind of foundation the home is on (CMU, concrete, slab on a grade, or post and pier)

Is the work invasive or will it be disruptive?

Our carbon fiber bowing wall stabilization solutions are non-invasive and can be completed from the inside of the basement or crawl space. Some solutions are more invasive on your home or yard, but our team works diligently to be as minimally disruptive as possible while completing your home’s services efficiently.

Some people ask us if they can still live in the house while the reinforcement work is being completed. Since some of the work takes place in the crawl space or basement, some noise may be heard from other levels of your house. This noise is not deafening, and you will be able to continue with your life above this space.  If your retrofit is in a room that has drywall on the walls you will not be able to live in that room for the duration of the repair. R&R’s priority is getting your property repaired as efficiently and quickly as possible so you can get on with your life.

What is involved in the structural inspection process?

By carrying out a thorough inspection process, our goal is to carefully determine the root cause of the structural damage. By considering the entire building envelope, our inspectors and structural design technicians can propose an effective solution that addresses the root cause of the problem(s). Once these structural issues and their cause are identified using non-destructive testing methods, a repair solution is developed. Depending on the scope of work, the repair proposal is typically approved by a local outside engineering company for approval. Upon approval, the project is scheduled, the necessary permits are pulled and a timeline for completion is provided for the proposed work.

Do I have control over what structural improvements need to be completed?

At R&R we believe in providing our clients with a clear understanding of all available repair solutions that will work with your property. Once a repair solution is determined, our aim is to make your foundation as strong and resilient as possible.

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