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Groundworks Company Installs (5) Helical Piles to Stabilize Settling Garage in Fargo, ND
by Holly Richards-Purpura
Recognizing Foundation Problems
Being vigilant about any problems noticed around a structure is key to maintaining a structurally sound building. A foundation is responsible for supporting the building as a whole, and when something is wrong with this essential load-bearing structural piece, the rest of the building can suffer as well.
After living in her house for four years, a homeowner in Fargo, ND, decided to update the appearance of the attached garage with new exterior siding. Recently, the owner noticed a large crack on one of the interior garage walls, and doors on the garage also appeared to be misaligned and did not latch properly. The homeowner also felt like the garage was pulling away from the house, and she believed the garage had undergone previous work because of sinking issues.
The homeowner recognized some telltale signs of foundation settlement, which can occur for a variety of reasons. The root cause, however, typically lies in the soil underneath a structure. If soil is unstable, it will lead to structural instability as well. Unstable soil is caused by wetting and softening of the soil, drying and shrinking, and poor compaction.
Drying and shrinking, in particular, commonly happen during periods of drought. Dry soil that shrinks underneath a foundation leaves gaps for the foundation to settle into. This results in visible problem signs like wall cracks, doors and windows that don’t function properly, and gaps between the floor and wall or wall and ceiling.
The type of soil a building is constructed on top of also makes a big difference. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Web Soil Survey, the property was built on silty clay soil. Clay soil is known to expand when wet, contract when dry, and contribute to foundation settlement. Additionally, silt is not the best soil option for building, and silty clay is a poorly drained soil that experiences frequent ponding.
Professional Foundation Evaluation
Given all these considerations, the homeowner was concerned with the condition of her garage and its foundation, and she wanted to prevent the issues from getting worse. She knew seeking the help of a foundation repair professional was the best course of action. During her research she found the website for Innovative Basement Authority, a Groundworks company serving Fargo, ND. Groundworks is the nation’s largest privately held foundation services company.
An experienced inspector with the local company then visited the property to perform a complete assessment of the home and its problematic garage foundation. Along with some wall cracks in the garage, the inspector also noticed some gaps between the floor and walls, as well as the walls and the ceiling. He measured for settlement and found that the back corner of the garage had settled approximately 1 ½”.
While there are numerous ways to address foundation settlement, the most effective, permanent solution is to install foundation piles underneath the settling foundation for proper reinforcement. Some pile systems also have the ability to potentially lift the foundation back towards its original position.
The inspector initially recommended the installation of push piles under the settling garage corner for stabilization purposes, and the homeowner agreed to move forward with this work to protect the structure.
Installation Project Overview
An installation crew with the local company, Innovative Basement Authority, was able to complete the stabilization project in four working days.
The crew first excavated 24 liner feet around the area of install and then dug 6’ down to reach the garage’s concrete footer. As the crew did this, they noticed some of the foundation and walls were wood. The crew then recommended switching to helical piles because of the type of foundation. The homeowner agreed, and the crew proceeded to install five helical piles into the ground.
Instead of only being installed vertically and driven into the ground, helical piles with helical blades attached to their shafts are “screwed” into the ground and can be installed at various angles. This type of foundation pile also is ideal to use on lighter structures and specialty foundations like the wood within this garage foundation.
The crew took great care in digging around the foundation and moving some pile locations due to the presence of a gas line. Also during the install, the crew noticed the concrete footing was cracked 6-7’ from the corner on both problematic walls, which was causing the settlement.
On the garage wall with a door, the piles were placed 2’ and 7’ from the corner and capped at 1200 psi. The other three piles installed along the side of the garage were capped at 1700 psi. All five piles were installed at a depth of 81’. This allowed them to reach more stable load-bearing soil to better support the garage foundation.
Once all the piles were properly installed and inspections passed, the crew backfilled the installation area and ensured the replaced soil had a positive grade. The homeowner was pleased with the rest of the project and the end result of having a stabilized and protected garage.
Groundworks® is the nation’s largest and fastest-growing foundation services company. Headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, the company currently provides foundation repair, basement waterproofing, crawl space repair and encapsulation, and concrete lifting services across a number of local and regional brands. Groundworks is comprised of AFS Foundation & Waterproofing Specialists™, AquaGuard Foundation Solutions™, Baker’s Waterproofing™, Complete Basement Systems®, Dry Pro Foundation & Crawl Space Specialists™, Florida Foundation Authority™, Foundation Recovery Systems™, Foundation Repair of Western Colorado™, Foundation Systems of Michigan™, Indiana Foundation Service™, Innovative Basement Authority™, JES Foundation Repair™, Mount Valley Foundation Services®, Ohio Basement Authority™, Ohio Basement Systems™, Tar Heel Basement Systems®, A-1 Sewer & Drain™, Independence Materials Group™, and Bizwiz Software™. Since 1975, the combined companies have helped nearly 1.5 million homeowners protect and repair their most valuable asset, their home. Groundworks operates more than 40 offices and has been named numerous times to the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies, BBB integrity award, and Best Places to Work. For more information, visit https://www.GroundworksCompanies.com
The local Groundworks Company Serving Fargo, ND, is:
Innovative Basement Authority
1330 41st St. N
Fargo, ND 58102