How Moisture Can Damage Your Foundation–What You Need To Know

by Julian De La Torre

Most homeowners know that water can cause extensive foundation problems. In fact, water intrusion is considered to be the single most important factor affecting the structural integrity of a building.

When moisture (condensed water) starts accumulating inside of a home, it can become an equally serious problem.

Moisture can come from any water source, such a plumbing, appliances, sinks, tubs, showers and toilets.

On walls, moisture will typically appear as a surface discoloration such as dark spots, mold and mildew. Mold has a black or green color, while mildew is usually grey or white. Other visual indicators include peeling paint, surface bubbles, warping and buckling, cracking and crumbling, swelling along drywall edges and seams, and soft or spongy areas on the drywall itself.

Moisture that builds up on or near the structure’s foundation can cause mildew, moss or foundation stains. Eventually the moisture will penetrate the foundation, which can result in cracking and other types of foundation issues and foundation repair cost.

If the soil underneath a foundation has too much moisture, it will start to expand. When the soil dries, it will contract. This can lead to uneven settlement and structural problems such as bowing walls, slopped floors and windows that won’t open or close properly.

One of the best ways to detect moisture is with a moisture meter. Pin-type moisture meters have two pins designed to be inserted into wood and other types of building materials. Once inserted, the device measures the resistance between the two electrodes. When any moisture is present, the electricity flows more easily. There are also meters without pins that use radio frequency signals to penetrate the material that is being tested.

If you find any evidence of water or moisture penetration, contact a foundation contractor to find out what is causing the problem and how to fix it.

Julian De La Torre, expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation contractors and foundation repair (Los Angeles) and founder of Julian Construction (http://www.julianconstruction.com) in Los Angeles, has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms & local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair (Los Angeles) than any other company in the area over the last five years (http://julianconstruction.com/services/foundation-repair/). Julian Construction owns its own company and is a “no middlemen” model–no salesmen or subcontractors–you get the principals of the company & its workers under your home. Learn more about Julian Construction and Los Angeles foundation repair at http://losangelesfoundationrepair.us/. See their video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I8j7dXzpj4

3 Primary Solutions to Save Your Home Foundation from Water Damage

LOS ANGELES, CA: Julian Construction (http://julianconstruction.com), a foundation repair and replacement company serving the greater Los Angeles area, is informing the public of three primary solutions for saving a home foundation from water damage, which leads to deterioration and needed replacement.

According to the company, foundation problems are unfortunately more common than we think. If a homeowner sees any leaks or cracks appearing in their foundation, the problem has already become serious. The damage from the issues that were previously ignored must be handled quickly otherwise irreparable damage could ensue, along with much more expensive repairs.

Three primary solutions to save your foundation from water damage are the use of downspouts, grading, and water.

1. Downspouts
An inexpensive option — that requires no construction – which expands your current downspouts to make your foundations safer. There are three options with downspouts regarding extensions. First, you can simply extend it away from the house. This can be done for $30 or less, as long as the water is being conducted at least 10 feet or more from your house. The second option is to make an extra long extension underground to send all the water to a storm drain/curb. Lastly, you can make an extension to send water to a dry part of your lawn.

2. Grading
Without proper soil excavation, water can seep to your house’s base and through the walls of your foundation causing water damage. Adding several inches of grading, meaning the soil slopes away from your house, can be a preventative measure for any homeowner. While hiring a construction company may be necessary, it is also possible for an individual to accomplish this by themselves with the simple tool: a level. It’s not necessary to dig more than approximately 10 feet in order to ensure the water will move away from your foundation.

3. Water
Contrary to what some people may think, your foundation does need a little water. The trick is to make sure you have control over how much and how often its watered so no water damage occurs. Hence, with the suggestion to use downspouts, you don’t want constant rain to be sitting near the foundation of your house. On the other hand, during a dry spell, it could be beneficial to soak the soil around your foundation in order to prevent the foundation cracking and drying out. Using a hose to allow just a few inches of water to seep around the soil of your home’s foundation will not only stop the contraction of it, but also control the expansion.

“Water damage, if unsuspected and unhandled over a period of time, can do serious damage to a home foundation. It is important to ensure this is not happening with your home. The best solution is to have a foundation inspection done by a knowledgeable foundation repair specialist, if you suspect any water damage or other problems with your foundation,” Julian Construction founder Julian De La Torre advised.

Julian Construction has done more foundation repair in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five years. Julian owns its own company and is built on a “no middlemen” model – no salesmen, no subcontractors. When you work with Julian Construction you get the principals of the company and workers of Julian Construction under your home. The result is the highest quality work at affordable prices. They can be contacted by phone at 323-733-3377, by fax at 323-733-4477 or via their website, www.julianconstruction.com. You can see tips and advice about home foundations on their blog, at http://julianconstruction.com/blog/ or http://houseboltinglosangeles.com/blog/.

3 Underpinning Options to Handle Home Foundation Problems

LOS ANGELES, CA: Julian Construction (http://julianconstruction.com), a foundation repair and replacement company serving the greater Los Angeles area, is informing the public of three different methods of underpinning a building. Underpinning is defined as a method used to increase a building’s foundation depth or repair faulty foundations.

According to Julian Construction, there are three primary methods of underpinning which can be used in order to repair foundations that are faulty and/or that need an increased depth for greater stability. Underpinning is extremely useful when there are cracks appearing in a foundation.

First Option: Mass Pour Underpinning
An extremely common method of underpinning is the mass pour method. This can be accomplished by excavating small sections beneath the current foundation and pouring concrete into each hole. This action is repeated several times to cover the entire area that is underpinned.

Second Option: Using Brackets & Screw Piles for Underpinning
Another method is to use brackets and screw piles to underpin. This method makes the foundation able to withstand strong lateral and vertical winds, as well as the shaking the wind can cause to buildings. Not only is it fast to install, noise of vibration caused by wind will be decreased.

Third Option: Pile & Beam Underpinning
This option requires a min-pile installed in on both sides of the wall which is affected. When the piles are installed the brickwork can be taken out underneath the wall and then it will be reinforced with a particular needle beam that will support the wall by connecting the piles together. This is the preferred method because it’s quicker than underpinning under restricted access, causes smaller amount of disruption, as well as handles a large load capacity.

“Underpinning is often a very needed and effective method of handling home foundation problems. Which method is most advisable depends on a number of factors. That’s why it’s important to get a foundation inspection by a knowledgeable foundation repair specialist, if you suspect any problems with your foundation,” said Julian Construction founder Julian De La Torre.

Julian Construction has done more foundation repair in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five years. Julian owns its own company and is built on a “no middlemen” model – no salesmen, no subcontractors. When you work with Julian Construction you get the principals of the company and workers of Julian Construction under your home. The result is the highest quality work at affordable prices. They can be contacted by phone at 323-733-3377, by fax at 323-733-4477 or via their website, www.julianconstruction.com. You can see tips and advice about home foundations on their blog, at http://julianconstruction.com/blog/ or http://houseboltinglosangeles.com/blog/.

Governor Jerry Brown Opposes Measure S, Says the Bill “Goes Too Far”

Governor Jerry Brown is taking a stance for Los Angeles housing developers.

The Governor of California opened up about the newly proposed Measure S bill, which would limit real estate development in the city if passed, in a statement released on Wednesday.

“I join with all those who say Measure S goes too far,” Brown told an adversary group of the bill.

Those for Measure S say the bill will help to scale down mass neighborhood redevelopments and those against the bill say it will diminish job growth and further worsen the housing crisis.

Los Angeles City Councilman, Jose Huizar, supports the governor’s decision to weigh-in on a local ballot.

“He certainly sees the devastation … that will happen should it pass,” the councilman told the L.A. Times.

Of course, proponents of the bill had a few choice words for Brown.

“Gov. Brown emerged last year as the key force fighting to undo the California Environmental Quality Act, siding not with people but with wealthy developers who blast away these protective state rules that make sure corporate interests don’t harm the environment or our health,” Measure S advocates said in a statement.

Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation repair and foundation replacement. Julian Construction has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five+ years.

Santa Barbara Hit By 3.4 Earthquake, Highlights Importance of City Retrofitting Measures

A 3.4 earthquake rattled residents in Santa Barbara Wednesday night. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the quake occurred at 8:49 p.m. and was centered in the Santa Barbara channel near Gaviota.

Located just 13 miles south of the seismic activity, residents in Solvang felt the brunt of the quake which occured about 4 miles beneath the surface. Other areas near Santa Barbara County felt the shaking too, though no damage was reported.

The earthquake highlights the importance of registering for the city’s Earthquake Brace + Bolt program (EBB), which is granting qualifying residents up to $3,000 to seismically retrofit their homes as a measure to get more earthquake safe properties in S.B.

Per the California Earthquake Authority, there are roughly 1.2 million houses around California that have not been properly retrofitted.

Your home should be inspected and most likely retrofitted if it was built before 1979, if it sits on a level or a low slope, if it has a wood-framed “cripple wall” under the first floor or if it has a raised foundation.

Janiele Maffei, chief mitigation officer of the California Earthquake Authority and executive director of Brace + Bolt, says homes with the highest risk are those dating pre-1940s.

“A large percentage of homes — in particularly the downtown area of Santa Barbara — were constructed during that time frame,” she said.

“The cripple wall problem is found in older homes, and the Santa Barbara area has beautiful, old homes that were designed and built before seismic codes were readily adopted throughout California,” Maffei explained.

If you have any concerns that your home could be vulnerable to earthquake damage or destruction, contact a local contractor to conduct a proper inspection.

Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation repair and foundation replacement. Julian Construction has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five+ years.

Does Your Contractor’s Dun & Bradstreet Rating Matter?

Are you familiar with Dun & Bradstreet?

While many consumers have never heard of this business service, the company has been around since 1841!

D&B is for business, what Experian and Equifax are for individuals — they rate businesses on their finances, credit score, credit history, marketing, management and risk exposure.

A business’ financial report is extremely important when it comes to selecting a reliable company. The credit score, similar to a personal credit score, will predict how likely a company will need legal relief from creditors or will have to cease operations without payment.

One example of D&B’s scoring process is their rating of the “Supplier Risk.” This is where companies are evaluated on several financial factors. See those below:

General Business information:

-Ownership

-Company’s financial condition

-Number of employees

-Change in management

-Years in business

-Region

Public Information:

-Business deterioration

-Number of law suits, judgments or bankruptcies

-Dollars of law suits, judgements or bankruptcies

-Total number of UCC filings

-History

Financial Information/Payment Experiences

-Current balance sheet

-Quick ratio/Current ratio

-Net Worth

-Total Assets

-Current Liabilities

-Net Profit

It’s important to take the “Supplier Risk Rating” into consideration, especially when doing business with a contractor. For instance, if the contractor has not paid his suppliers, then it’s possible you could be left footing the bill long after the company has vacated the job site.

In conclusion, there are a lot of companies that might look professional when you search the internet, but if you want to ensure that you’re in safe hands, it’s important to do a little more research and see what the company is really built on.

Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation repair and foundation replacement. Julian Construction has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five + years.

Does Your Pier Foundation Need Replacement?

Your home’s foundation is arguably the most important facet of its structure.

Like many man-made objects, these foundations can deteriorate over time. For example, when your home’s foundation settles at different rates, that’s when issues like foundation cracks, uneven and/or sinking floors, drywall cracks, tight doors and windows, and chimney separation can occur.

Similar foundation issues can happen if you live in an area that’s experienced heavy rainfall. That’s because foundations constructed upon concrete piers are more at risk of rotting since they are in constant contact with wet soil.

If your home has been subjected to any of the items listed below, it’s best to contact a local contractor, like Julian Construction, to inspect the area:

Water damage to foundation posts: Los Angeles has experienced massive rainfall this winter season, and as a result, your pier assemblies may have incurred some damage. When water enters a home’s crawl space, the wooden posts that hold up the structure can become weak after sitting in wetness for extended periods of time. Eventually, these posts will lose strength and rot or the concrete blocks may shift.

Sinking floors, damaged drywall and/or tight doors and windows: If you’ve noticed areas of your home that aren’t functioning like they once were (i.e. unevenness in your floors, cracks in your drywall or interior doors that stick) these could be signs that your piers and posts may have shifted and are now providing uneven support or no support at all. Starting with an inspection, and then correction, a foundation specialist can remedy this issue by resetting your homes pier’s blocks and posts to the correct height, location and with the proper footing.

Termite damage: Termites feed on a home’s structure. If you’ve suffered pest problems, there’s a chance that your existing piers and posts may need replacement or repair.

Remodeling: If your home has recently been remodeled – specifically, if load-bearing walls have been moved or heavy objects or flooring have been added — additional piers and posts may need to be installed in order to support the new weight or load bearing locations of the house.

It’s always good idea to have your home inspected to ensure it’s sitting on a structurally sound pier and girder system — if any of the items listed below are present, your home may need immediate attention:

Unevenly spaced piers: The piers and posts below your home need to be spaced properly apart. This means, the piers should be no more than between 4′ to 6′ feet apart to support the weight of the house, depending on the size of the girder system in use. If they’ve been spaced unevenly, you’ll want to get that corrected to prevent any future support issues.

Incorrectly designed piers and posts: If your piers and posts are poorly supporting the floor system, there’s a greater chance that your home may have points of collapse in the event of natural disasters like floods or earthquakes. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when your dealing with such an important investment as your home.

Pier system installed without proper sized girders: If the floor of your home is uneven, appears to be sinking or is raising up, there’s a good chance that your foundation was installed without properly sized or spaced girders. This is another issue that can be remedied with a foundation specialist.

Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation repair and foundation replacement. Julian Construction has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five + years.

Santa Monica City Council Approves Nation’s Largest Retrofitting Effort

Santa Monica’s new seismic retrofitting effort could mean big changes for Los Angeles.

The City Council approved Santa Monica’s latest seismic safety measure to retrofit some 2,000 buildings deemed vulnerable to earthquakes.

Santa Monica’s new safety rules would extend Los Angeles’ recent retrofit efforts, going well beyond the city’s mandate to retrofit wood-frame apartments and concrete buildings, by including steel-frame structures.

Per the Los Angeles Times, the vote was unanimous.

This means that building owners with wood-frame, concrete and/or steel-framed structures will undergo seismic evaluations and, if found vulnerable, be retrofitted.

“It’s great for Santa Monica — they’re going to have safer buildings. It is also hopefully the start of a wave,” seismologist Lucy Jones told the publication.

Jones, who has worked with California to educate local governments about the importance of seismically safe buildings, also noted that other areas are starting to acknowledge these measures.

“There are dozens of cities curious at looking at this,” she added. “People are starting to recognize how necessary this is.”

Though Santa Monica is the first city to include steel-framed structures, which make up a lot of the areas high-rise buildings, cities like West Hollywood and Beverly Hills are also examining the benefits of such retrofits.

Of course, L.A. passed similar ordinances back in 2015, calling for the retrofit of wood-frame and concrete structures which had been found vulnerable in the event of seismic activity. About 13,500 wood-frame buildings have been identified but as many as 15,000 structures may need retrofit.

While a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Garcetti said, L.A. is looking at a “range of building types, including steel moment frame buildings,” it’s still to be determined if the city will require retrofits for these structures.

Of Santa Monica’s identified 2,000 buildings, it’s estimated that 1,700 of the structures are wooden apartment buildings with soft-story spaces (otherwise known as carports or open ground story spaces) that might buckle in the event of a large earthquake.

Though costly, Santa Monica is at higher risk when it comes to earthquakes because a fault line runs right through the city. The area was also severely damaged during the Northridge Earthquake, which saw the loss of 1,500 apartments and damage to some of the city’s oldest landmarks.

While steel buildings have not been considered particularly at risk when it comes to earthquakes, Santa Monica is giving owners 20 years to determine if the buildings are up to seismic code. Concrete buildings will have 10 years and wood apartment structures will have two years.

Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation repair and foundation replacement. Julian Construction has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five years.

Cripple Wall Bracing: What You Need to Know

When you seismically retrofit a property, there are several factors that need to be examined.

One of the first things an inspector will check is the home’s cripple wall. A cripple wall can be found in the crawl space of the property.

How do you know if your home has a crawl space? Usually if the first floor of your house is higher than the street level, there’s a good chance you have a crawl space.

Inside the crawl space – which can be just few inches tall or a few feet tall – there are walls that connect the floor living area of the home to the mudsill, also known as the sill plate. The mudsill is a wooden member that attaches the building to its foundation.

These walls and/or studs that attach the home to its foundation are known as the cripple wall. Essentially, the cripple wall is the part of the foundation that handles the entire weight of the building.

Because of the cripple wall’s load-bearing capacity, this area can become compromised in the event of a large earthquake, causing damage to the foundation and/or total collapse.

Cripple-wall failure is one of the most common types of structural damage in an earthquake. If the cripple wall fails, the living area of the home falls to the street level, causing the property to slide off its foundation.

Most houses in Los Angeles have been built using wood-framed floor systems, which create the crawl space. The crawl space is an area that also typically holds the building’s phone, electric, gas and water lines.

Generally, older homes in Los Angeles with this type of structure have not been built to withstand the side-to-side shaking of an earthquake.

Thanks to new structural engineering you can remedy this issue. Companies specializing in foundation repair, like Julian Construction, will use what is called sheer wall installation to reinforce the home’s cripple wall.

Sheer walls are made from structural plywood, which securely attach to the cripple wall framing of the property. These sheer walls not only provide extra support to the home’s foundation during an earthquake, but are completely invisible from the outside.

Julian Construction Inc. specializes in foundation bolting and the bracing of cripple wall by using structural-grade plywood which provides greater resistance to earthquakes. These steps, along with properly tying the floor system down with approved framing anchors, will make your home safer.

Santa Monica Lists 2,000 Buildings Needing Retrofit

Santa Monica is serious about preparing for the next big one.

The city is requiring some 2,000 buildings to be seismically retrofitted in a measure to prepare the area for a major earthquake.

Going one step further than Los Angeles’ recent measure requiring the retrofit of wood-framed and concrete buildings, Santa Monica is including properties built from steel-frame structures.

Though steel-frame buildings were once believed to be some of the safest structures in Southern California, the Northridge earthquake of 1994 saw these same buildings – 25 to be exact – suffering major damage from seismic activity.

While there were no deaths or complete collapses caused by these building fractures, many of the properties were demolished because they were left irreparable.

Retrofitting these buildings will be rather costly, especially since many of these steel-frame structures include skyscrapers and high-rises in the area.

City officials estimate it will cost somewhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per unit to retrofit a standard wood-frame apartment building and $50 to $100 each square foot to retrofit a concrete and/or steel building.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s simulation of a 7.8 earthquake or greater in Los Angeles, five high-rise steel buildings collapsed.

That’s why the mayor of Santa Monica says he’s “committed” to making the area seismically safe.

“We are very committed here in Santa Monica to make sure we are resilient in the face if possible catastrophe,” Mayor Ted Winterer told the Los Angeles Times. “We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to protect our community.”

Julian De La Torre is an expert in Los Angeles foundation inspection, foundation repair and foundation replacement. Julian Construction has inspected over 15,000 structures, working with engineering firms and local departments of building & safety. The company has done more foundation repair in Los Angeles than any other company in the area over the last five years.