FOUNDATION REPAIR GLOSSARY AND DEFINITIONS
BALLOON FRAMING a wood framing
system whereas the wall stud members extend from the
ceiling area to the foundation girder below the
floor joists. In this system the floor joists are
not attached to the wall studs, causing difficulty
in supporting the wall above it while switching out
a damaged girder. This system was common until the
1930's. In conventional framing, the wall studs rest
on a bottom plate, that sits on the floor above the
floor joists. This is also known as box framing and
BEAM also called a girder, runner,
stringer. This wood member is 2 or 3 times larger
than floor joist, and is unlikely to bend between
the supports that should be every 6 to 8 feet. A
metal I-Beam supports a large area without bending,
allowing a house mover to move the entire structure
at one time. Wood beams are typically used to
support a structure, with the floor joists and
flooring above the beam, and the supports and
underpinning below the beam.
With a slab foundation, the beam is the thick part
of the concrete slab, intended to support the weight
above it without sagging, or bending. With the
proper steel reinforcement, most slab beams, also
called the grade beam, will not sag with supports no
further than 8 feet apart, depending on the weight.
Some frame houses can be defectively constructed
without an exterior wall beam, but only a flat sill
plate installed. These defective structures should
have a beam installed, to save the structure from
dips and sags every few feet. Without installing a
beam, then pier supports must be added under each
BEDROCK a hard, solid rock that
lies beneath the surface soil, that usually requires
blasting or jack hammering to be excavated.
Considered excellent for construction purposes.
can also be defined as one who possesses a high
degree of integrity, the solid backbone of chivalry,
good character and unbending honor.
BELL, or BELLED PIER the bottom
part of a foundation pier that spreads outwards,
wider than the pier shaft, producing more bearing
support at the bottom, such as a spread footing.
BENCHMARK a reference point with a
fixed location and height that does not change. A
tree makes an excellent benchmark, because even
though the tree grows significantly higher, the mark
will remain at the same height and position. The
foundation can be compared to the benchmark on the
tree years later, and a determination can be made if
the foundation is moving up or down. It is amazing
that something as simple and natural as a tree has a
near permanent foundation, whereas structures built
by man regularly fail.
BERM a mound of dirt, placed against a building to
protect it from temperature extremes, or a mound of
dirt near a structure to soak up sound waves from
nearby traffic noise.
BLUE SHALE the bluish or gray rock, usually formed
from a hardening of mud and silt materials over
The top of blue shale is usually soft and easily
penetrable, but hardens more the deeper it goes.
Blue shale is really not bedrock, but just
sedimentary soil that has hardened and become firm
over time. sometimes called mudstone.
BOARD FOOT equals 12" x 12" x 1", or 144 cubic
inches = 1 board foot.
BOIS D'ARC POST a pier support used entirely under
frame structures, composed of a section of a bois
d'arc tree. Bois d'arc posts are desirable because
they do not normally rot and deteriorate easily, and
they are not susceptible to termites and wood
destroying insects. Bois d'arc posts are acceptable
supports under a foundation if they are not
flagrantly tilted, but a foundation typically
requires additional supports that cover more bearing
area at the bottom of the pier support.
BRIDGING installing wood blocks as stiffeners in
between floor joists to prevent them from twisting.
Good bridging will also prevent the floor from
BUTTRESS a concrete or masonry support mostly above
the ground, outside of a wall, installed to stiffen
and strengthen the wall, and built in a triangular
shape outside the wall. Different from a pilaster,
which is not triangular, but straight like a column,
but serving the same purpose.
CAISSON an enclosed shaft that water is unable to
penetrate, used for underwater construction.
CALIFORNIA SLAB A slab foundation that has a wood
floor on top of it. Usually it consists of a 2 x 4
runner laid flat on about 16 inch centers, with wood
flooring laid on top of the runners, leaving a
hollowness to the sound of the floor. This makes one
believe it is a pier and beam foundation.
CANTILEVERED means supported only at one end. Some
structures can be designed to be cantilevered, and
the unsupported end will not sag. In some cases,
however, the structure is not designed properly to
be cantilevered and supports are required to support
the cantilevered end. Oftentimes, a girder under the
house is cantilevered, and needs a support at the
end for the foundation to be leveled and all sags
CARPENTER'S LEVEL a measuring device, usually 4 feet
long, that has a bubble in the middle of it, to
determine the level of a horizontal surface area.
Some carpenter's levels have another bubble to
determine if a wall or vertical structure is plumb.
A carpenter's level is the most efficient and most
reliable instrument in measuring the levelness of a
foundation slab or floor. It can be quickly and
easily placed on the floor, cabinets, on the top of
door frames, window sills, and even along the brick
mortar, making it the most versatile measuring
device in the foundation repair industry. to see if
there is an area that is not level. Sometimes a
shorter level can be used, or a longer one, but the
4 foot level gives the best reading over a
sufficient distance to make a determination of the
CEMENT a "glue" that forms that adheres other
materials together, such as sand and rocks. Cement
is usually made of silica, alumina, and lime. It
hardens and works once it is mixed with water. Many
other materials and substances may be mixed with
cement to give it different qualities, such as fire
resistance, water resistance, and other things.
COLLAR TIE, also known as a strut beam, installed in
attic bracing to connect the two sides of the roof
rafters. Without collar ties, the roof may push the
outside walls of the structure out. With collar
ties, the roof rafters stay together.
CONCRETE a hard substance made of sand, rocks,
cement, and water. Concrete can have other
ingredients added for color, resistance to water or
heat, and other additives. Any additive can
potentially weaken the concrete. Most foundations
are designed with concrete poured at 2500 psi. This
is also called 5 sack cement, because it should have
about 5 sacks of cement per cubic yard of concrete,
insuring it's strength. 6 sack would be about 4,000
psi. Too much sand, or too little cement, will
weaken the concrete.
CONVENTIONAL FRAMING a wood framing system whereas
the wall studs rest on a bottom plate, that sits on
the floor above the floor joists. This is also known
as box framing and stick framing.
COOKIES large spacers placed between a support and
the foundation of a structure. Under concrete
foundations the cookies are almost always concrete
thin blocks, but under a frame structure they can be
wood or concrete.
CRAWLSPACE the area under a house, or structure. The
minimum crawlspace should be 18" below the floor
joists, but in some areas, like New Orleans, the
code requires 24" below the floor joists in an
attempt to motivate homeowners to pick their houses
up as much as possible, away from rising flood
waters. The hole from which to enter the crawlspace
is called the scuttlehole.
CRIBBING a support system, usually of wood, stacked
for temporary support of a structure, in most cases
until a permanent support system can be installed. Also, a support system, usually of wood, to support
a jacking apparatus intending to raise a
CRIPPLE STUDS short, vertical wood frame members
above a header and below a window frame, connecting
the header to the roof load, or connecting the
foundation to the window.
DEAD LOAD the weight of a structure without adding
people or furniture.
DEAD MAN a large weight, made usually of concrete,
used as an anchor and usually buried underground, to
keep a wall from pulling away from the hill. It
is also called a foundation pier made up of a large
block of concrete under the structure that cannot be
adjusted or altered without breaking it out. It is
the most undesirable of all foundation repair
techniques and repair methods, because it cannot be
DIFFERENTIAL SETTLEMENT means that different parts
of the structure are settling at different rates,
causing cracking and pulling apart of the structure.
Is different than subsidence.
DRY ROT a decaying of wood, caused by different
kinds of fungi. For dry rot to occur, one must have
poor ventilation, some moisture for the fungi to
grow, and moderate warmth. Once dry rot begins, it
can be controlled with adequate ventilation and
moisture control, but rarely can it be removed
because it is too deep in the grains of the wood.
Wet rot require a lot of moisture, and of course,
The most common species that destroy the wood are
Serpula lacrymans, Coniophora puteana, Fibroporia
vaillantii, and Phellinus contiguus, but a number of
them can be found in damp wood. Some molds may be
extremely hazardous to your health.
ENGINEER a highly skilled and educated designer and
planner of various fields. In Texas, to be called an
engineer, one must first have a degree in
engineering, then work for 4 years under the
guidance of a registered engineer, then be approved
by the State Engineering Board. After the degree in
engineering, one can be called a graduate engineer
only. A foundation engineer is one that specializes
in the planning and construction of foundations, but
is usually under the auspices of civil engineering.
A structural engineer is primarily concerned with
the mathematics and physics of structures. A civil
engineer is involved in the planning and building of
bridges, highways, drainage facilities, canals, and
foundations. To repair a foundation, the most
qualified engineer is one who has both experience
and education in civil engineering.
Foundation repair experts must understand all the
techniques of building construction, common
structural defects, drainage problems and repair
methods, different foundation repair techniques, and
some knowledge of soil hydrology and the local
geology. A good civil engineer must be prepared to
crawl under a structure to inspect for defects and
Engineers not usually qualified for foundation and
drainage repairs are mechanical engineers, aerospace
engineers, software engineers, and electrical
ENGINEER'S REPORT an inspection of a structure,
residential or commercial, whereas a licensed
engineer registered with the State from which the
structure lies, completes a visual inspection of the
structure, detailing what he or she believes are
flagrant defects of the structure. A normal
engineer's report will list observations, make a
conclusion from those observations, and make
detailed recommendations how those flagrant defects
should be corrected. An engineer's report is
sometimes limited to the economic condition of the
area surrounding the structure and other factors. An
engineer's report is limited to the substructure,
and does not usually concern the superstructure. One
engineer's opinion may differ from another,
depending on what each may call a flagrant defect,
and one engineer may recommend a foundation repair
that may be different from another engineer.
EPOXY GROUTING a method by which concrete cracks are
"glued" together. Prepared properly, the epoxy bond
will be stronger than the concrete itself.
EXPANSION JOINT a flexible joint between to parts of
a structure to allow for expansion and contraction
of the two parts, preventing structural distress.
FILLING THE VOID a process by which a large void is
filled, but not necessarily with pressure. In this
process a large cave of a void can be filled
quickly, leaving the last little bit for pressure
grouting. Only pressure grouting will squeeze the
mud into the small cracks and crevices that need to
FILTER FABRIC a material that allows water to pass
through, but not soil particles or rocks.
FLAT WORK a section of concrete that is about 4
FLOATING SLAB a slab usually about 4" thick inside a
foundation wall, but not attached to the wall or
foundation. A floating slab is usually just poured
on grade and has no piers underneath. Many are
constructed with little or no reinforcement, and
simply provide a concrete floor to walk upon instead
Most all pier and beam homes have a floating slab in
the garage. The only way to raise a floating slab
that has settled is by mudjacking.
The original idea of installing a floating slab is
that it was thought it would "float" with the
swelling soils, instead of the expansive soil
crowning the floor. However, it is a junky poor idea
that should be scrapped.
If you don't want swelling soils, install drainage.
Water causes the soil to swell. A monolithic slab is
better than a floating slab, and it's design has
good structural integrity.
FLUSH GIRDER a girder that is placed where the top
of it is even with the top of the floor joists.
FOOTING a concrete slab, usually 8 inches to a foot
thick, placed under the perimeter or the interior of
a foundation. A continuous footing is a concrete
foundation footing that runs around the edges of a
FRAME HOUSE FOUNDATION a type of construction,
usually residential, whereas the foundation is
composed of individual piers throughout, generally
on 6 foot centers, and the home has wood or asbestos
siding. Each individual pier must separately support
the weight above it. With a frame foundation, one
can usually crawl under the structure, and cross
ventilation is necessary to air out the crawl space.
FRIEZE BOARD, also called fascia, a horizontal,
decorative band of wood around a house, where the
siding meets the roof members. Where the frieze
boards are separated at a corner is a common sign of
foundation settlement of that corner. The corner of
the wall will rotate outwards as the structure
settles, pulling the frieze boards apart.
FASCIA also called a frieze board, a horizontal,
decorative band of wood around a house, where the
siding meets the roof members. Where fascia boards
are separated at a corner is a common sign of
foundation settlement of that corner. The corner of
the wall will rotate outwards as the structure
settles, pulling the fascia boards apart.
GIRDER a wood beam, sometimes metal, to spread the
weight above to the foundation supports below.
This wood member is 2 or 3 times larger than the
floor joist, and is unlikely to bend between
supports every 6 to 8 feet. A metal I-Beam supports
a large area without bending, allowing a house mover
to move the structure. Wood beams are typically used
to support a residential structure, with the floor
joists and flooring above the girder, and the
supports and underpinning below the girder. Can also
be called a runner, beam, or stringer.
GRADE BEAM the perimeter band of concrete that is
thicker and deeper than the remainder of the
concrete slab foundation, or the interior strip of
the concrete slab foundation that is thicker and
deeper to allow for the support of the above loads.
The grade beams will support above loads with less
bending and deflection as the usual interior of the
slab, which is usually only about 4 inches thick.
Most grade beams under residential construction are
about 10 inches thick and about 2 feet tall. If a
load bearing wall was placed on a 4 inch thick of
slab, without a beam, it may likely sag downwards in
GUNITE a hard substance made from cement, sand,
water, and sometimes also small pea gravel. Gunite
is sprayed on with a sprayer, and the materials are
mixed at the point of being sprayed from the nozzle.
Gunite is commonly installed for most swimming
pools, because it can be sprayed on in layers,
enabling the contractor to pour a vertical wall,
spraying on a little at a time. Gunite can sometimes
be defective because the materials are not always
well mixed. Spraying shotcrete is better, because
the materials are mixed well first, then sprayed on.
Both are sometimes installed on hillsides to prevent
HEADER a wood or metal support beam that transfers
weight placed on it's middle to each end of the
header. A weak header will bend, but a properly
designed header will transfer the weight above
HELICAL PIER, the HELICAL SCREW ANCHOR a foundation
repair system that acts like a screw, and is
literally screwed into the soil or rock, meeting
enough skin friction that it should support most
loads. However, in clay soils, once the clay shrinks
in dry conditions, the skin friction decreases,
causing the helical pier to fail. Helical piers can
sometimes be successfully anchored into rock and
used as a tieback for retaining walls, but should
never be used to as a tieback when screwed into
INVERTED CORNER the opposite of the outside corner
of a structure. In foundation repair, the inverted
corner usually requires pier support on each side of
the corner in order for it to be raised uniformly,
and supported uniformly.
KIP FACTOR a mathematical term used to describe how
much load a soil can support, determined by a
JOIST HANGER a metal bracket that is attached to a
floor joist or ceiling joist, and then also attached
to an adjoining wood beam or header. A joist hanger
supports the wood member more securely than nails
alone can do.
LEVEL STRUCTURE WITH AN UNLEVEL FLOOR in this case,
such as an old porch that has been enclosed, the
structure may be level, but the floor was
constructed with a dip in it to allow for water
To level the floor, one must remove the flooring and
replace it with flooring that is level. The
structure must be leveled first by using the ceiling
or window sills, instead of the floor.
LIVE LOAD the additional weight to a structure added
by people, furniture, snow, ice, or water.
The most dangerous live load is water. If a roof
drain clogs up, and the water cannot escape, and the
roof structure may not be able to support the water
and could collapse, endangering the occupants of the
LOAD BEARING CAPACITY OF EARTHEN MATERIALS
Solid rock 100 tons per square foot
Soft rock 8
Compact Gravel 10
Loose Gravel 4
Hard clay 4
Soft clay 1
Coarse sand 3
Fine sand 1.5
Soft soil 1/2
LOAD BEARING WALL a wall of a structure that can
successfully transfer weight from a ceiling area to
the foundation without distress or bending. The
weight above a load bearing wall must be carefully
supported before it can be removed, and usually a
header or beam can be installed in it's place. Non
load bearing walls can be removed usually without
the danger of the weight above collapsing. Removing
walls should only be attempted by a professional
contractor, because it can be dangerous to the
future occupants of the structure.
MONOLITHIC SLAB a concrete slab foundation poured
all at one time.
MONTMORILLONITE a common type of soil in North Texas
that has the ability to swell greatly after
prolonged contact with water.
MUDJACKING a process by which concrete flatwork can
be raised by pumping a soil/cement slurry under the
concrete with enough pressure to literally "float"
it up to a more desirable level. Raising concrete
with concrete beams or uneven weight is difficult
with mudjacking, and usually nets poor results.
Mudjacking must be done from above, and never from
the side of the area that must be raised.
OUTSIDE BAND a board runner the same size as the
floor joists, but running around the perimeter of
the structure. The floor joists are nailed to the
outside band, keeping the ends of the joists from
twisting. Holes can be safely cut into the outside
band to allow for the installation of crossvents in
between the floor joists.
If the outside band is around a wood front porch, it
is best to double it up to give more support for the
above columns. If the outside band is running
parallel to the floor joists called the rim joist,
it should be doubled to prevent it from twisting or
bowing out, say on the back wall where the floor
joists are running left to right.
PIER a support under a foundation. can be wood,
steel, concrete, in the ground or above the ground.
PIER AND BEAM a type of construction, primarily in
residential construction, by which the foundation is
formed with individual piers along with a concrete
beam or wood beam spans. In a pier and beam home,
one can usually crawl under the structure, and cross
ventilation is necessary to air out the crawl space.
In a pier and beam home, the floors are usually
PIER CAP connects a support system to the structure.
PILASTER a concrete or masonry support mostly above
the ground, outside of a wall, installed to stiffen
and strengthen the wall, and built in a straight,
columnar shape outside the wall. Different from a
buttress, which is triangular, but serving the same
PILING a pier that is driven or pushed into the
soil. A standard piling typically used in foundation
uses the weight of the structure to push the piling
into the soil. Other names in the foundation
industry circulate as segmented pilings, push
pilings, pile blocks, steel pilings and concrete
pilings, and then there is the double piling, which
is two pilings close together. A pile is a support
PUSHED into the earth (displacement pile), rather
than a pier that is an open hole that is filled with
concrete to construct a pier support (replacement
pile). There are further names such as a drilled
pile and a grouted pile, and around the world there
are names such as pali radice, micropali (Italian),
pieux racines, pieux aiguillles, minipieux,
micropieux (French), minipile, micropile, pin pile,
root pile, needle pile (English), soldier pile,
Verpresspfahle and Wurzelpfahle (German) and Estaca
Raiz (Portuguese). With any pile, in clay soil, the
idea is to transfer the structural load into the
ground to a more competent or stable strata by
pushing the pile into the soil. In sandy soils,
friction plays the larger part into developing
support on the edges of the pile, but clay soils can
also develop outside wall friction with the soil and
add to the support of the pile.
POINT OF REFUSAL a point at which a piling can no
longer be "pushed" into the soil without breaking or
lifting the structure above. A light structure will
reach a point of refusal at a shallow depth because
it has less weight to push against. A heavy
structure will allow the piling to be pushed deeper,
until it reaches a hard change of soil or rock, or
it develops enough skin friction around the pile to
reach a 'point of refusal'.
A point of refusal in dry soil may not be sufficient
to support the weight above during wet conditions.
POOKIE any tar like substance used for sealing and
POST AND BEAM FOUNDATION a foundation composed of
individual wood posts, supported spans of wood
beams. One can usually crawl under a post and beam
foundation, and it requires cross ventilation to air
out the crawl space. To avoid wood to ground
contact, and treated post or a bois d'arc post is
required to prevent rotting.
PRESSURE GROUTING a process by which a void under a
concrete area is filled with a soil/cement slurry by
pressure. The mix must be fluid enough to fill the
cracks and all the void under the concrete,
satisfactorily sealing the void from moisture
penetration from the perimeter of the concrete area.
REBAR an abbreviation for the term metal
reinforcement bars, used to strengthen concrete and
help prevent separation of the concrete, especially
in a foundation pier, footing, or slab. 1/2" is
commonly used in most concrete floor slabs, called
#4 rebar. #6 is 3/4", usually used in the concrete
grade beam of a slab, and #3 rebar is 3/8".
RETROFITTING making changes to a structure to help
protect it from earthquakes, flooding, fire, and
other natural hazards.
RIM JOIST a floor joist on the outside of the
structure running parallel to the adjacent floor
ROOT BARRIER a method by which the roots of a tree
are severed between the tree and a structure, and a
horizontal ditch is placed between the structure and
the tree, lined with a variety of materials that may
prevent the tree roots from growing back. This is a
defective measure designed to prevent the tree roots
from drinking too much water under the foundation,
ultimately damaging the foundation structure. If the
tree roots were truly a problem, then all the trees
and the neighbor's trees would all have to be cut
down. Cutting the tree roots are hazardous to the
tree, and most foundation systems are not so fragile
that some shallow tree roots could cause a problem.
RUNNER, see girder
SCUTTLEHOLE the entryway from which one enters the
crawlspace under a home or structure. Many homes
have a scuttlehole inside a closet, but that does
not meet many code requirements. When the
scuttlehole is opened, it allows bugs, bacteria, and
molds into the home from the unsterile environment
in the crawlspace. The most desireable location of
the scuttlehole is from the outside. Bedrock can
design a scuttlehole box, like a storm cellar door,
on the outside, to allow entry into the crawlspace,
and the closet scuttlehole can be nailed and sealed
shut forever. Also, plumbers and foundation repair
contractors are no longer needed to track through
the house and enter one's closets any longer. They
can get under the house from the outside scuttlehole
SETTLEMENT the downward movement of a foundation.
Differential settlement means that different part of
the structure are settling at different rates,
causing cracking and pulling apart of the structure.
Is different than subsidence.
SHAKER BEAM see girder
SHIMS thin spacers placed between a support and the
foundation of a structure, usually very thin to
cover a small space. Shims can be hard wood, cedar
shakes, or metal. The larger spaces are usually
filled with a larger material called cookies.
SHIMMING, SHIM JOB to install shims on top of the
piers and supports, under a foundation, usually
making small adjustments to the level of a
foundation, without the further installations of
SHIPLAP wood planks nailed against the inside of
wall studs to provide cross bracing. Shiplap can
provide the backing for the installation of
wallpaper in older houses.
SHOTCRETE a hard substance made from cement, sand,
water, and small pea gravel. Shotcrete is sprayed on
generally, but the materials are mixed well first,
then sprayed, insuring that there are no weak
portions of the mix. Most commercial swimming pools
in Texas require shotcrete over gunite, and all the
pools in California require only shotcrete. Gunite
and shotcrete are sometimes installed on hillsides
to prevent erosion. Bedrock Foundation Repair, LLC
will spray shotcrete to prevent erosion, but will
not use gunite because of it's weak spots, and the
finish work with gunite appears to easily
SHOTGUN HOUSE a very narrow house, usually no more
than 15 feet wide. Some shotgun houses are defective
because the floor joists are too small, and they are
constructed too low to the ground.
SILL PLATE the flat piece of wood that sits below
the joists in framing, laid flat like a plate. The
wood girder is usually placed below the sill plate,
or a concrete grade beam.
SKIRT see tin flashing
SLAB FOUNDATION a type of construction whereas the
floor is concrete, usually poured monolithically,
supported by concrete beams. The size, width, and
location of the concrete beams of a slab foundation
depends upon the design and weight of the structure.
A slab foundation without the proper steel
reinforcement will not hold together.
SNOOT an attachment to a front end loader, used to
push under a structure to remove earthen materials,
also known as a long nose bucket.
STAIRSTEP BEAM a concrete beam that goes vertically,
then horizontally, like a stair would run.
STAIRSTEP CRACK a crack in brick, stone, or the
mortar, that goes vertically, then horizontally,
like a stair would run.
STRINGER see girder
STRING LEVEL a method of horizontal measurements
with a long string, and a small level with a bubble
in it that sits on the string. Once the string is
stretched tight, and the bubble is in between the
two lines in the level, the two ends of the string
will be level to each other, allowing one to make a
STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY possessing the strength to
support the load as it was designed.
STUD see wall stud
SUB FLOOR rough wood members below a finished floor
that give support and more strength to the floor,
nailed on top of the floor joists.
SUBSIDENCE a sinking to the bottom, different than
settlement, usually caused by the removal of oil and
gas, or mining, but can also be caused by the
lowering of the water table, causing the structures
above to sink.
SUBSTRUCTURE an area of a structure that involves
the floor and everything below the floor.
SUPERSTRUCTURE an area of a structure that involves
everything above the floor.
A typical engineer's inspection of the foundation
and structure does not usually include the
superstructure. To include the superstructure, the
engineer must be prepared to thoroughly inspect the
attic for proper bracing, collar ties, and supports,
as well as attic ventilation and ceiling/wall
A superstructure inspection is usually an additional
price over and above the normal foundation
inspection by an engineer.
TIGHTEN OFF to secure completely the connection
between a pier support and a foundation, by
hammering a shim with enough cookies as necessary,
to make the connection secure and strong between the
TIN FLASHING, TIN SKIRTING tin placed along the
perimeter of a wood frame structure at the bottom,
from the top of the floor joists to the ground.
Better than wood skirting, because it avoids wood to
Soil can then be placed against the tin skirting to
create a positive slope away from the foundation.
TORPEDO PIER a patented foundation pier support made
of steel, whereas the support can be placed into the
ground at least 90 feet deep. The advantage of a
torpedo pier is that it can usually be installed
into hard rock before the 90 feet depth, making the
support permanent. Also the Torpedo Pier, a patented
system, can be installed in limited access areas.
One torpedo pier can be placed 90 feet deep into the
earth from one's hallway or walk-in closet, without
scratching the ceiling. This makes it advantageous
to install a permanent foundation pier in areas
where typical pier support systems will likely fail.
TRANSIT an optical leveling instrument that can
measure horizontally, usually up to about 200 feet.
Some laser transits can measure up to 600 feet, but
the longer the measurements, the more chance of
To set up a transit slightly out of level to get
started can mean a great error at the end of the
measurement if it is a long distance. Transits
cannot measure through walls or obstructions.
UNDERPINNING supports of various kinds added under a
structure to assist in the vertical support of the
structure. Underpinning can be defined also as piering, and there are a multitude of different
kinds of piers.
UNSUPPORTED WALL a load bearing wall of a structure
that lacks foundation support. An unsupported wall
can create a sag in the floor. Some unsupported
walls are built in between the floor joists, causing
a sag, and others are built in between the
foundation girders, causing a sag. Sometimes a load
bearing wall over a thin slab can cause it to sag
where an interior grade beam should have been
installed. Piering under the unsupported wall will
usually correct the situation if the piers are
installed close together.
UPHEAVAL the rising of a structure caused by
swelling soil, swollen because of an accumulation of
VENEER a layer of brick, stone, or concrete added to
a wall of a building for cosmetic purposes, that is
WALL STUD a vertical wood frame member in wood
framing construction. Most residences have 2" x 4"
wall studs, but the downstairs of a two story
structure would require 2" x 6" members to resist
bending and wall failure.
WALL TIES a piece of metal that connects the brick
wall to the wood walls.
WATER LEVEL a method of horizontal measurement using
a long clear tube filled with water. Since water
will seek it's own level, the level of the water at
one end of the tube will be level to the water at
the opposite end. This method can be erroneous if
any air bubbles get into the water.
WEATHERED SHALE the top of a hardened layer of rock
that has become soft over time because of its
contact with water.
WEEP HOLE an opening in the bottom of a brick wall
that will allow water in the wall to escape. A weep
hole can also allow air to circulate inside the
wall, like ventilation. Unintended consequences,
however, allow a weep hole to be a home for insects
and bugs, and it also allows water an unrestricted
passageway into the home. Some houses have no weep
holes at all, and it seems to have no effect.
WET ROT a decaying of wood, caused by different
kinds of organisms or fungi. For wet rot to occur,
one must have poor ventilation, a lot of moisture,
and moderate warmth. The most common species that
destroy the wood are Serpula lacrymans, Coniophora
puteana, Fibroporia vaillantii, and Phellinus
contiguus, but a number of them can be found in damp
wood. Some molds may be extremely hazardous to your
health. Dry rot will rot into a dusty powder, while
wet rot remains wet and soggy.
WIND LOAD the pressure on a structure caused by
WING WALL a brick or stone wall usually protruding
from the front corners of a home. Some wing wall
foundations are attached to the foundation of the
home, and some are not. Some wing wall brick or
stone is laid with the brick or stone of the house,
and some are detached. A wing wall that has rotated
to one side or to the end can usually be piered and
jacked back up to vertical.
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