Foundation Repair Case Studies: Helical Piers Fix Cracked Bricks in Valley Center, KS

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 by Kendra Dunnigan

Challenge

Homes construction utilizes many different materials, most notably wood and concrete. 

The way that builders improve the aesthetic of a home is with the type of siding put on the outside. Wood, vinyl, and even cementitious siding have become popular in recent years, but historically there is probably more brick and stone on the front of homes than any other material.  

Expanding and contracting clay soils are common in Kansas and can cause home problems when they move too much. This home in Valley Center, KS, just north of Wichita, has a lovely brick veneer covering most of the front of the house. The homeowner, Becki, was frustrated with cracks that had appeared and was searching for a solution. She also had concerns about the house's structural integrity because her son's bedroom was directly above the cracked area.

The Truth About Clay Soils’ Impact on Foundations

Soils rich in clay and silt have the greatest potential to damage a foundation. Clay absorbs water easily, expanding in volume as it becomes more saturated. So-called “expansive clays” can cause foundations to crack, heave and shift.

When clay soils dry out, they shrink and crack, leaving gaps around a house where water from the next storm can penetrate easily and repeat the expansion cycle. Clay-rich soils can cause more foundation damage by expanding than by contracting.

It’s why you need to keep an eye on cracks on the surfaces of walls in and around your home. All of the movement, flexing each season with extreme temperature or moisture shifts, is happening without us knowing. So, looking for visual clues is essential to prevent a small problem from getting more significant. Cracks in the foundation, in drywall, outside along the foundation are all significant indicators of movement. What direction do they go? Are they getting bigger? What part of the house do they occur? Are there other symptoms that can be connected, such as doors and windows that are harder to open and close?

Finding the Right Contractor to Fix Your Foundation

After researching solutions for foundation cracks, Becki scheduled several contractors to perform a foundation inspection to determine the cracks' cause and provide an estimate for the repair. After reviewing the issue and identifying the problem as a foundation defect, several contractors told Becki that they couldn't solve the problem. 

The builder built the foundation in a somewhat unusual way, and they didn't have a solution that would work.

When Thrasher Foundation Repair arrived, Chad was able to identify that the foundation was settling and causing the bricks to separate and crack. He also determined that the foundation was not a continuous footing but was built with footing pads at crucial locations. This meant that a typical push pier, sometimes referred to as a resistance pier, wouldn't work. It also meant that the sinking foundation repair design would have to be very specific and would leave little room for error. This is the reason that several contractors were unable to provide a foundation repair estimate.

Solution

The solution included helical piers under the pad footings to support the load of the structure above, including the brick veneer. Helical piers were advanced or screwed into the ground until they reached competent soil that could help support the home's weight. 

We used torque readings to measure capacity and determine the proper depth for the piers. Once they were installed to solid ground, we attached foundation brackets. Then we were able to lift the footing back to its original position. 

In this case, the bricks moved back into place, and the crack was no longer visible.

Helical piers are a reliable, long-term solution, and require very little to no maintenance to maintain. When helical piers are properly installed to the correct depth, they are resistant to soil content that expands or swells based on the amount of moisture it receives. Thrasher offers a 25-year, transferable warranty on all foundation repairs. Thrasher completed the project in just one day, and Becki was thrilled with the results.

Thrasher Foundation Repair- Your Foundation Repair Experts

Thrasher Foundation Repair has been in the business of fixing foundations for over 45 years and has the experience to handle almost any foundation repair, especially those caused by the clay soils found in the Wichita, Kanas area. Whether your foundation problem is a cracked foundation, sinking footer, or bowing wall, Thrasher has the solution. Egress Windows, uneven concrete, and clog-proof gutters are other solutions offered. If you need an estimate for any of these services, submit your information on our website.