Terminology of our Trade

BLOCK FOUNDATION- Hollow concrete blocks used to build a foundation. They are formed with mortar.

CATCH BASIN – The inlet used to take water in to direct them into a 4” or 6″ pipe when used to control water. These are usually 9” x9 ” to 12” x 12”.

CLAY – Clay is a naturally occurring earthy mineral that is plastic when wet but becomes permanently hard when heated. Clays are formed by the weathering of feldspathic rock. Clays are composed of hydrated aluminum silicates, such as kaolinite, elite, palygorskite, attapulgite, bentonite, and montmorillonite. Clay exhibits significant volume expansion when mixed with water and significant compression when water is withdrawn.

DRAIN TILE– pipe with openings used to collect water and direct it away from structure.

ELEVATION – Elevation is a series of measurements to determine the difference in height between a central point and other points.

FOUNDATION – A home foundation is that part of the structure that is in direct contact with the ground. The foundation transmits the weight of the entire home and itself to the supporting soil.

FRENCH DRAIN – A drain that is used to collect water that migrates under ground. It is not used to collect large amounts of water from a heavy rain fall. French Drains are usually dug down 36-48 inches. Then 1 1/4” river rock is placed at the bottom of the trench and a 4” corrugated pipe is placed over this rock. Once in place, the trench is filled with river rock to approximately 4-6” below grade. The last 4-6” are then topped with soil and/or sod.

FOOTER- the bottom building block on which your foundation wall sits.

GRADING – Grading is the term used to describe the direction water would flow on the soil. Traditionally, you want to have the soil graded away from the house at a rate of 1 inch of drop per foot of grading.

HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE-water build up or pressure under basement floors. Causes the water to seep up at the seam of floor/wall or through cracks in the floor.

POSITIVE DRAINAGE – Positive drainage is the expression used to describe the soil laid around the perimeter of the home in a way that water moves away from the house. Minimum grading is a 2” drop over 2’. This prevents water from ponding around the perimeter of house causing migrating water and helps control the moisture content of the soil.

POURED/CONCRETE FOUNDATION-formed and poured with concrete.

SETTLING – This term refers to a process or situation where part of a home’s foundation has moved below its original elevation. It usually results in interior and exterior cracks in various places throughout the home. It is caused by the home experiencing a loss of mass under the foundation which originally supported it.

SILL PLATE – Sill plate is the term used for the 2×4 or 2×6 piece of wood that is placed along the top of the Perimeter Grade Beam on a pier & beam house. This wood is either pressure treated or oil dipped (much older homes) to prevent moisture from traveling from the concrete grade beam into the joists or beams. When the home is subjected to excessive water in a certain area, the sill plate will deteriorate and become rotten and require replacement. Often times this deteriorated wood will become compressed and cause cracking in the sheetrock of the roof and walls. Replacing the sill plate is tedious but necessary for the longevity of the foundation.

SOAKER HOSES – Recycled rubber converted to a hose which allows water to pass in a low-volume, low-pressure form to evenly distribute moisture over a large area.

STAIR-STEP CRACKS-cracks in brick or block foundation in a stair-step pattern.

SUMP PUMP – A sump pump is used in conjunction with surface drains and French drains when the water that is being moved to a common point is lower than the designated outlet. Sump pumps are automatic and will automatically turn on when enough water has accumulated in its well. The water is then pumped to a designated area (i.e. street or lower spot below the foundation grade.)

SURFACE DRAIN – A surface drain is used to move large amounts of water that collect on top of the ground. In most cases down spouts from rain gutters are also tied into the surface drain to help move water. A 4” pipe is placed underground with collection boxes located at optimal areas which collect surface water and moved away from the affected area. These are the most common type of drain used to correct improper drainage or grading.

UPHEAVAL – This term refers to a process or situation where part of a home’s foundation has moved above its original elevation. It usually results in interior and exterior cracks in various places throughout the home.

UNDERPINNING – Underpinning is the process of modifying an existing foundation system by extending it to or into subsurface strata that is deeper and more stable than the near surface soil that sup- ports the existing foundation system. This is done to provide vertical support that is not present in the existing design. Methods of underpinning include the construction of footings, stem walls, driven piling or drilled piers.

WATER LEAKS – Water leaks are a major problem for home foundations. Usually the result from leaks in the plumbing system, they can contribute to water accumulation under a home. Water leaks can cause upheaval (swelling and expansion of the soil) and excessive settlement.