Pre-Cast Foundation defects of occurrence: damaged pre-fab building foundations
CONCRETE PRE-CAST FOUNDATION DEFECTS - CONTENTS: Pre-Cast Concrete Foundation Defects listed, described & explained. Foundation defects of occurrence: things that happen that cause damage to building foundation walls or slabs. Photographs of pre-fab or pre-cast foundation damage patterns and types
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This article explains How to Inspect & Diagnose Problems in Pre-Cast Concrete (Modular) Foundations - pre-fab foundation wall sections such as
pre-cast "superior wall" foundations, precast concrete walls, how they are placed, how pre-cast concrete foundation walls are sealed, footing
alternatives for pre-cast or modular foundations, and concerns for proper caulking or sealing between precast concrete foundation or wall sections.
Examples of structural & other failures in Pre-Cast Concrete (Modular) Foundations
Pre-cast foundation walls such as the Superior Walls R-5 ™ or Xi ™ (extra insulation) systems provide
sections of concrete foundation walls which are lifted into place and bolted together, often sitting
on a simple gravel footing-base, or properly installed, on crushed stone footings [2009 IRC section 403.4.1].
Superior Walls technical director Robert Hare points out that Superior Walls panels use specially formulated polyurethane sealant to seal these joints.
From some manufacturers, (not Superior Walls) the wall sections are sealed, typically with gaskets or caulk or both.
These are excellent building products with a proven track record, but as with any building material or procedure
it's important that the precast concrete wall sections are properly transported, stored, installed, connected, and sealed, and
that they are supported properly on footings or gravel properly prepared.
The defects we've observed were in pre-cast concrete foundation wall installation and did not involve evidence of structural failures.
Incomplete sealing between foundation sections, leading to later basement leaks and water entry
Poor modular foundation section alignment, poor sealing between sections, particularly at building corners, resulting in foundation
Inadequate footing drains around the pre-cast concrete foundation (or none), and/or inadequate roof drainage system installation (gutters and leaders)
resulting in flooding the foundation and water entry passing under the wall bottom and up over the basement slab
at the slab/wall joint. Foundation leaks are not a product defect it's a poor installation practice. Some builders look at the pre-cast concrete wall
sections as a waterproof material, forgetting that water can enter under a foundation or between improperly sealed foundation sections.
Excessive spanning of areas by pre-cast concrete foundation sections with no fill and no footing at all (shown in photo above) may
lead to future water entry, floor slab settlement, or in severe cases, foundation movement. Spans over five feet would violate a Superior Walls guideline and other spans may be improper depending on the product and the engineering design for the project.
Clarification from Superior Walls, Builder Guideline Booklet MAN 42-9000(June 2010) page 11 Figure 4 indicates that the maximum allowable over dig for a Superior Walls product is 5’-0”. Inspectors observing large open spans of foundation walls should refer their clients to the original project engineer and the engineering drawings to check compliance.
Note: Superior Walls of America considers quality installations very important to our process, that is why every Superior Walls project is installed by a trained certified installer and Superior Walls panels are not by the builder or general contractor.
Basement water entry and leak problems require adaptation of common internal trench and drain systems, as
cutting the slab to excavate for an internal drainage trench exposes the gravel footings. Inspectors should look closely at the connections and sealant between wall sections and look for evidence of leakage. While some manufacturers do not require sealing the inside bottom of the footer beam, as we note below, inspectors of existing structures are certainly expected to examine all foundation areas, corners, joints, footings, for indications of a history of water entry.
Clarification from Superior Walls: It is certainly important that the joints are sealed properly to prevent possible water leaks. However, when sealing Superior Walls panels it is not necessary to seal the inside bottom of the “Footer Beam”. Therefore, we believe the picture that depicts the sealant not being applied to the vertical section of the footer beam is not a good example of “Incomplete Sealing”.
Special basement waterproofing system details are needed if a basement de-watering system is installed
after construction of a building with precast concrete foundations or walls.
Foundation waterproofing companies such as B-Dri ™ who are asked to address water entry in
homes built with these systems have to use modified intercept drain materials because the absence of poured footings under
the walls gives less depth for an in-basement trench.
Reputable manufacturers of precast foundation wall products, including Superior Walls of America, supply their customers with site prep and construction details and that these are a great resource for inspectors. Superior Walls provides these details in Builder Guideline Booklet MAN 42-9000 [local copy] which is available on-line, free of charge. This booklet includes a series of checklists, including one for Code Inspectors.
FAQs below discusses field reports of problems & solutions for this topic
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about problems with factory-made pre-fab or pre-cast concrete foundations
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Arlene Puentes, ASHI, October Home Inspections - (845) 216-7833 - Kingston NY
Greg Robi, Magnum Piering - 800-822-7437 - National*
Dave Rathbun, P.E. - Geotech Engineering - 904-622-2424 FL*
Ed Seaquist, P.E., SIE Assoc. - 301-269-1450 - National
Dave Wickersheimer, P.E. R.A. - IL, professor, school of structures division, UIUC - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture. Professor Wickersheimer specializes in structural failure investigation and repair for wood and masonry construction. * Mr. Wickersheimer's engineering consulting service can be contacted at HDC Wickersheimer Engineering Services. (3/2010)
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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Diagnosing & Repairing House Structure Problems, Edgar O. Seaquist, McGraw Hill, 1980 ISBN 0-07-056013-7 (obsolete, incomplete, missing most diagnosis steps, but very good reading; out of print but used copies are available at Amazon.com, and reprints are available from some inspection tool suppliers). Ed Seaquist was among the first speakers invited to a series of educational conferences organized by D Friedman for ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors, where the topic of inspecting the in-service condition of building structures was first addressed.
Design of Wood Structures - ASD, Donald E. Breyer, Kenneth Fridley, Kelly Cobeen, David Pollock, McGraw Hill, 2003, ISBN-10: 0071379320, ISBN-13: 978-0071379328 This book is an update of a long-established text dating from at least 1988 (DJF); Quoting: This book is gives a good grasp of seismic design for wood structures. Many of the examples especially near the end are good practice for the California PE Special Seismic Exam design questions. It gives a good grasp of how seismic forces move through a building and how to calculate those forces at various locations.THE CLASSIC TEXT ON WOOD DESIGN UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE LATEST CODES AND DATA. Reflects the most recent provisions of the 2003 International Building Code and 2001 National Design Specification for Wood Construction. Continuing the sterling standard set by earlier editions, this indispensable reference clearly explains the best wood design techniques for the safe handling of gravity and lateral loads. Carefully revised and updated to include the new 2003 International Building Code, ASCE 7-02 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, the 2001 National Design Specification for Wood Construction, and the most recent Allowable Stress Design.
Defects and Deterioration in Buildings: A Practical Guide to the Science and Technology of Material Failure, Barry Richardson, Spon Press; 2d Ed (2001), ISBN-10: 041925210X, ISBN-13: 978-0419252108. Quoting: A professional reference designed to assist surveyors, engineers, architects and contractors in diagnosing existing problems and avoiding them in new buildings. Fully revised and updated, this edition, in new clearer format, covers developments in building defects, and problems such as sick building syndrome. Well liked for its mixture of theory and practice the new edition will complement Hinks and Cook's student textbook on defects at the practitioner level.