Why Foundations Fail in Expansive Soils.

Why Foundations Fail in Expansive Soils
Published on October 7, 2016
Richard Rash

Residential foundations in North Texas are not really designed for the soil they sit on and the homes they are supporting.

The soil is expansive, meaning it shrinks and swells with the addition and loss of moisture.

This movement of the soil causes the foundation, because of its design, to flex!

The house sitting on the flexible foundation is not designed to flex. Sheetrock flexes very little, bricks and mortar do not flex and hard floor covering and door frames do not flex.

This is, in a nutshell, what lets foundations fail in North Texas and other areas of expansive soils

Most damage in our area is relatively minor compared to areas of major earthquakes, sink holes, mud slides, subsidence and other acts of man and or nature.

Most North Texas foundations are poured during hot dry periods when the soil has shrunk. This would lead one to believe that most foundation movement is the result of areas of shrunken soil, expanding unevenly under and around the foundation.

And this is true in many instances.

As the soil expands it lifts parts of the foundation, causing the foundation to flex. As the foundation flexes, the home begins to be lifted, but, the home, being unable to fully flex, cracks begin to appear, door frames are pushed out of square and what we consider foundation damage is observed.

Here is where an authority is required. Where you need a check and balance. Where you do not rely on someone who makes a living selling piers.

Soils expand, but they also contract. Both expanding soils and contracting soils cause nearly the same problems. Without years of experience, you can not tell one from the other. You cannot use a levelling device to tell the difference without a benchmark. The benchmark would be elevations to sea level at the time of construction, which no one has.

The point is, shrinking soils have one cure and expanding soil has another cure. If you use piers on a foundation where the soil has expanded it will fail. If you try to cure shrinking soil problems with drainage correction, you will not be successful.

The answer is to get someone on your side who knows their stuff and will not profit from selling you a certain repair,

Richard Rash Fee-based Foundation Repair Consultant. 817-308-8186 email: richardrashinc@tx.rr.com www.repairfoundations.com

Foundation elevations: foundation repair scam

The number one scam in the foundation industry


 Foundation elevation scams 1

 Using Foundation Elevations:  (Reading this may well save you a bunch of money and help you avoid a lot of grief.)

Foundation companies sell piers. That’s how they make the vast amount of their profits.  Buildings need to “settle” or drop, to benefit by using piers.

Piers cannot stop or reverse “upheaval, “which is the lifting of a structure by expanding soils. It is to the foundation companies’ advantage to have potential customers believe that all foundation movement is really settlement. To accomplish this they take foundation elevations without an original elevation benchmark.

The truth is that in areas of expansive soils such as North Texas, the majority of foundation movement leading to damage and repairs is upheaval, but the primary source of income for commissioned foundation repair salesman is selling piers. Here lies the conflict. This causes the foundation repair salesman to create a reason to sell piers providing inconclusive foundation elevations.


As stated, most foundation movement in areas of expansive soil is not caused by settlement. To give the illusion of settlement the foundation contractor salesmen generally use and instrument such as a “computerize level” to give the illusion of a slab settling. This is bad science!

Using leveling devices without being in possession of the original construction  foundation elevations from sea level, which no one has, and a current government benchmark marked from sea level, one CAN NOT determine if a foundation has settled on one side, or lifted on the other.

In other words, the level will not tell you, if the foundation has gone up or if it has gone down. If the operator wants to make the foundation appear to have settled they put the zero mark at one point. If they want it to appear the building has heaved, which none of them do, they put it somewhere else. Either way, the foundation elevation does not show if or how the foundation moved.

If they want to sell piers they make it appear that settlement is the problem. Foundation companies do this to customers every day, to convince homeowners to buy piers they don’t need.

These un-needed piers will usually cause additional problems later on.

The real reason that there are so many foundation repair failures is not usually because of inadequate piers, but because the piers should not have been installed in the first place. And guess what, your warranty will not usually cover that mistake.

Contact me and I will explain it all.

The manipulation of elevations results is perhaps the biggest frauds in the foundation industry. In areas of expansive soils, upheaval is more often the cause of foundation movement than settlement. In North Texas, as an example, concrete beams in both slab and pier and beam (crawl space) construction are designed to be supportive and protect against settlement from minor voids under beams.  Expanding soils, on the other hand, are able to push areas of the slab up, essentially causing the same damage signs as settlement, only in a somewhat different pattern.


If “X” is original grade (when constructed) then “O” has settled and the slab needs to be lifted. ………. HOWEVER, if “O” is at original grade, then “X” has heaved. You cannot tell by taking elevations unless you have the original elevations, from sea level, of the structure, when built, AND a benchmark based to sea level that can be used for reference.  The foundation companies or “their” so called “professionals” do not have the sea-level elevations or benchmark, so do not buy piers based on their elevations.

All that any level can show is that the foundation is not level. It may not have  been poured level, it may have settled, or it may have heaved. Or it may have been poured unlevel, and settled or heaved. The least likely option is that it just settled and this machine cannot tell you if it has! Once again it is at best bad science!

See what my customers say  Testimonials.        My Fees.      

For additional information:

Contact me: Richard Rash at 817-308-8186f it did.

For more information go to www.foundationmanspeaks.com

Please sign up for my Newsletter: CLICK HERE

If you are buying, selling, managing, investing in or own multi-family properties.

__CONFIG_custom_phone__{"phone_no":"817-308-8186","phone_text":"Call Richard ","mobile_phone_text":"Call us","color":"default"}__CONFIG_custom_phone__

If you are involved with multi-family properties. in North Texas, these are things you need to know.

When reviewing apartments, condo’s or townhomes or other multi-family properties it is always wise to consider signs of foundation movement and analyze the cause.

These various property types have more in common than most investors realize.


The property upon which they are built.  Due to the size requirements of apartment complexes and other multi-family properties, land costs are a major initial expense. Like it or not, many such complexes are built on soils that would be undesirable for single family construction. They are often constructed near creeks, on uneven terrain and on extremely expansive soils. The site plans themselves often consist of trash fill soil, drainage problems and excessive erosion, three of the major causes of foundation problems.


The footprint of the most common multi-family properties are usually rectangular or “L” shaped to maximize land configuration. These form factors are conducive to trapping water as well as to having individual buildings constructed over multiple types of soil, coupled with elevation changes, which lead to differential soil movement.


Proper foundation maintenance is difficult to achieve. Activity near  the structures and the nature of the buildings not being owned by residents make for problems. I don’t know that I’ve ever visited multi-family properties, consisting of rental units, where all the plumbing cleanouts contained their caps. Missing cleanout caps are an invitation to mischief and incidental blockage of pipes which in turn can lead to flooding of apartments.

Notice that I have said that these buildings are subject to soil movement, that is not to say that necessarily mean structural foundation damage. 

By understanding the processes that cause soil movement, it is usually possible to pre-empt, stop and often reverse the building movement. This is how you avoid true structural foundation damage.

It is almost always possible to prevent the foundation movement. It is usually possible to stop the movement once foundation damage has begun, and it is also very often possible to reverse the foundation movement without the use of piers or other expensive lifting methods.

The key is understanding the real reason that foundations move, what constitutes foundation movement in multi-family properties, and what is truly foundation damage.

Ownership of one side of a duplex to the management of large apartment communities. Foundations of multi-family properties can be your largest liability.

So: BE SURE…before you pier!

What to know more? For information about my service, fees, my testimonials or, general foundation repair and drainage correction, please check out my WEBSITE or my BLOG, or sign up for my NEWSLETTER. Or you may call, including evenings and weekends, 817-308-8186. My email is richardrashinc@tx.rr.com.

Let me know what you think. And please share, like and comment

Foundation Repair Consultant

Foundation repair consultant
Foundation repair consultant

Richard Rash@Linkedin.

Foundation Repair Consultant

I am here to help to help protect you from foundation and drainage issues.  

I am a completely independent, fee-based Foundation repair consultant and drainage control consultant. I can be your advocate, your check, and balance.

 Near the bottom of this article is a link to the over sixty articles on foundation repair and drainage control that I have submitted to LinkedIn this year. Read what is helpful to you, learn and enjoy!

(As a foundation repair consultant I am not involved with any foundation, drainage, construction or other related companies.)

Understand the process and you won’t get taken advantage of by the foundation companies and their commissioned based pier salesmen.

My job as a foundation repair consultant  is to provide you a better understanding of your foundation and/or drainage problems, if I don’t, I don’t want  you to pay me.

Since 1980 I have helped thousands of people tread the murky waters of the foundation repair industry.

First as a foundation repair/drainage contractor and for the last eleven years as a fee-paid foundation repair consultant. If it involves foundation movement, damage or repair I can help.

I provide help with building, buying, or selling homes and small commercial buildings with possible foundation and drainage issues.

I can help with preventing, stopping and reversing foundation damage.

I can help you deal with failed foundation repairs.

I can educate you, and protect you from the many scams, myths, frauds and omissions that are part of the foundation repair industry.

I can help to determine the actual problem, the proper solution and the fair price range for any foundation or drainage work you may require.

I will help you understand:




Types of Damage:

  • Upheaval
  • Settlement

Causes of damage:

  • Too little water
  • Too much water
  • Drainage
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Erosion
  • Subsidence
  • Earthquakes
  • Sinkholes
  • Mudslides
  • Other

Types of Repairs

  • Piers
  • Drainage
  • Plumbing
  • Other

Types of piers

  • Steel
  • Concrete
  • Pushed
  • Drilled
  • Poured in place
  • Helical

Type of drainage

  • Grading
  • Surface drains
  • French drains
  • Catch basins
  • Automatic pump
  • Berm
  • Swale
  • Gutters
  • Other

 Type of Help

  • Homeowners’ insurance.
  • Homeowners’ warranties.
  • Builders warranties.
  • and a lot more.

I will provide you with a written review of my findings.

After our original meeting and review of the property, I will answer phone questions from you or your contractor or potential buyers that will help you accomplish your goals.

My fee is very inexpensive for what you receive and, as I have said, if I don’t help you, don’t pay me.

I hope by reading my articles in LinkedIn you have, or will, come to understand that dealing with foundation repair is a slippery slope and that going into it is without experience and knowledge on your side can be a very expensive and stressful experience. That is why I am making this offer: If I don’t provide you or your client with information that is needed to deal with their foundation related problem, don’t pay me. All I ask is that they discuss their questions with me beforehand. If I don’t feel confident that I can help I won’t make an appointment. If I make the appointment the deal stands. Here is my contact information:

Richard Rash  Reverse RR_clipped_rev_1

Fee-based foundation and drainage contractor.

My Fees.


Email: richardrashinc@tx.rr.com

Website: www.repairfoundations.com.

Sign up for  my Newsletter

Thanks for reading. Call me!

Upheaval and Settlement

upheaval and settlement
upheaval and settlement

Upheaval and settlement

Out of the hundreds of unsatisfactory foundation repair jobs I have been called upon to examine, the number one thing I have learned is that most foundation repair company salesman can’t tell the difference between upheaval and settlement.

The reason for customer dissatisfaction has usually been because piers were installed and lifts made when piers should not have been installed and lifts should not have been made. It is a fact that most foundation repair companies in North Texas, can’t tell the difference between upheaval and settlement and , use computerized, or other types of levels to determine cause and treatment of foundation movement.



Computerized level.

It is also true that in most, if not all cases, this is junk science and in my opinion borders on fraud.  As far as I know, it is impossible to determine, by taking elevations, without a benchmark to sea-level, whether a foundation has:

  • heaved (raised) in one area
  • or settled (dropped) in another area
  • or was poured out of level.

bench mark
That means you must have a constant bench mark, from the time of construction, to compare with.  And in thirty-six years in the business, I have never seen one for residential property.


What happens is commissioned pier salesmen, or others who will benefit from the sale of piers, will walk the slab, find a high point and calling it zero. Then, it would seem that any areas of the foundation that Is below that arbitrary elevation must need to be lifted. However, if the high point is heaved and the low point is at original grade, then when piered and lifted, that section of the foundation will be secured at an un-natural level, while the original heaved section of the foundation will either experience additional upheaval if left untreated, or settle back to near as built if drainage or plumbing is fixed, while the piered area will still be secured at the wrong elevation.

The machine cannot tell the difference between upheaval and settlement. It just knows if it is not level.

When these things happen most warranties do not cover these type of redo’s, so you are out all of that money and usually need to start over.

upheaval and settlement
upheaval and settlement

Another point to remember: Interior piers, piers that are placed other than on the exterior foundation are almost never needed on monolithic slabs. If the center shows to be down by elevations or just look or feel, it is almost always that the exterior perimeter beam has heaved and lifted above grade or has been lifted above original grade during previous piering. Be very careful and consult a professional that is not trying to sell you piers before considering lifting the interior slab.

upheaval and settlement
upheaval and settlement

Other reasons for failed repairs include using the wrong piers for the job, too many piers for the job and not maintaining the soil’s moisture after the job.

This is one of the main reasons that homeowners should invest in a consultant, and realtors should advise their clients of the benefit of expert advice from someone who in not selling repair methods.

Bottom line: Be sure, before you pier!


Due to the extreme proliferation of inexperienced, and untrained  foundation repair salesmen whose job it is to sell as many piers as possible, it is highly recommended that consumers, particularly homeowners, seek the advice of an independent expert before contracting foundation repair. I can save you time, money and prevent a lot of stress.     

I will be glad to provide more information.

Contact me Richard Rash at 817-308-8186.

My email  richardrashinc@tx.rr.com.



Best bet: See a consultant!     Sher

Foundation repair questions.

Foundation repair questions
Foundation repair, questions

Detective 1-13-16

Foundation repair questions answered by Richard Rash.

These are foundation repair questions that I am often asked relating to such as foundation watering, foundation elevations, foundation repair scams, about me, contacting  me and my fees.

Click here for information on foundation watering.

Click here for information on foundation elevations.

Click here for information on foundation repair scams.

Click here for information about me.

Click for information about contacting me.

Click for information on my fees.

Dealing with Foundation Damage.

Dealing with foundation damage
Dealing with foundation damage

When dealing with foundation damage most people in the foundation repair business profit from the number of piers they sell. If they don’t sell piers they don’t eat. That, in and of its self, should make you give serious thought to the pier heavy repairs suggested by most foundation repair salespeople.

In areas of expansive soils such as North Texas, foundations are primarily affected by a combination of three things:

  • The expansive soils.
  • the extreme wet to dry periods.
  • and the rolling hills.

For our purposes:

  • Foundation Settlement is the product of a decrease of soil volume or support under areas of the foundation.
  • Foundation Upheaval is the product of an increase in soil volume  or support under areas of the foundation.

Expansive clay soils increase in volume with the addition of moisture and contract with a loss of moisture.

    Upheaval of center slab

  Settlement of external beam  

Two things that you must know to start dealing with foundation damage in areas of expansive soils:

  • If a foundation is poured in a damp or moist soil, resultant foundation problems will likely be that of settlement.
  • If a foundation is poured in dry compacted soil, resultant foundation problems will likely be upheaval.

Expanding soil causes upheaval and contracting soils cause settlement and foundation repair company elevations will not tell them apart. (for more information on elevations scams go to: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-elevations-should-used-determine-foundation-damage-richard-rash?trk=pulse_spock-articles.


Since it is not recommended to pour concrete in moist soil, foundations are usually poured during our long dry periods, our frequent droughts. This means the soil is usually in a compacted, or reduced state of volume when the grades are established.


When it does rain the water runs downhill and is often trapped on one side of the home and runs off on the downhill side. This can lead to “differential movement” where soil expands under some areas of the home and does not under other areas.

Rolling hills


The soil swells on the high/wet side and does not swell on the lower/runoff side.

This allows uneven soil expansion to twist the foundation, producing cracks in the rigid components of the structure.  The effects show up as what we refer to as foundation damage.

Heave crackCC Facebook ad 12-3-15-2_j

It may also cause erosion of support soil on the downside.

Compacting or eroding

The results of early twisting of the foundation is usually nothing more than cosmetic damage, that may be repaired without applying force, such as piers to either lift, move or stabilize the home.

Xout trans_clipped_rev_1


The problem, that exist at this point, is that of not dealing with foundation damage incorrectly, which may cause more stress, which can undo the repairs or produce additional damage.

Slope  Sewer layout


In areas of expansive soils, what we refer to as foundation damage is also caused by soils eroding or compacting after the structure is constructed. This is usually the case where fill soil has been added.  In areas where the soil is sandy or rocky and lacks expansiveness foundations are more often affected by settlement.

Erosion erosion compaction


To the untrained eye, the cracks are the same.  To an experienced authority who is looking to cure the problem and not sell a specific tool, such as piers, the locations, and type of cracks can show the difference between settlement and upheaval.Recognizing and identifying those subtleties can mean the difference between correctly repairing a structure and setting it up for failed repairs and additional distress. 

end lift center lift

In North Texas and other areas of expansive soil, when dealing with foundation damage it usually does not need piers to stop and reverse the movement.  When piers are required, before the piers are installed, the cause of the movement should be defined and stopped. The piers then used to reposition and support walls as needed.

When piers are unnecessarily installed and used to lift an area or areas of a foundation that is not settling but sitting at or near original grade, attempting to lift one part of a foundation up to match another area of  the foundation that has heaved is a sure recipe for disaster.

Bottom line.

The cause of the foundation movement must be correctly identified and properly addressed, with the correct tools, to reach a satisfying solution.

The problems must be identified:

  • If upheaval is the cause of damage the water source must be addressed, corrected, and given time to dry before cosmetics are attempted.
  • If foundation settlement is the cause of damage, the reason for a loss of soil support must be identified and corrected.  Then the correct remedial support, such as type of pier, (concrete, steel, pushed, drilled, helical) or other support (foam or pressure grouting) may be chosen and applied. Depending on support chosen, time should be allowed for repaired structure to adjust before cosmetic repairs are addressed.

There is an  extreme proliferation of inexperienced foundation repair salesmen, whose job it is to sell as many piers as possible. It Is recommended that consumers, seek the advice of an independent expert. before contracting foundation repair. It can save you time, money and prevent a lot of stress.     

I will be glad to provide more information about dealing with foundation damage . Contact me at 817-308-8186.

My email is richardrashinc@tx.rr.com.



Best bet: See a consultant!

Remember: Be sure ….before you pier!

Click here to sign up for my Foundation/Drainage Tips Newsletter

  • LikeHow To Deal With Foundation Damage
  • Comment
  • ShareShare How To Deal With Foundation Damage

Tagged in:


Richard Rash


Pier and beam construction!

Crawl space problems with pier and beam construction.

Pier and beam construction
Pier and beam construction

Major problems with pier and beam homes can be caused by bad drainage allowing water to get into the crawl space, causing the soils to swell, unevenly, lifting floor piers, which throw off doors, crack sheetrock and lead to humping or sagging in the floors.

Water, or moisture, in a crawl space, can also result from plumbing leaks.

Constant moisture in the crawl space will lead to wood rot, which will weaken the floor and cause mold  which can affect your health. Termites and other vermin also thrive in a moist crawl space.

Inadequate or non-functioning vents can encourage  moisture problems in the crawl space.

As far as floor piers go, it is recommended that they be vertical, of concrete or other non-wooden material and in proper contact with the materials that support your sub floor and flooring.

A few pier and beam crawl space supports use steel between the ground and sub-floor. I have seen these supports degraded from rust to a point of breaking.

Bottom line: keep your crawl space dry.

If you have questions contact me, Richard Rash, the foundation man, at 817-308-8186. Email at richardrashinc@tx.rr.com. Website: www.repairfoundations.com. Blog: www.foundationmanspeaks. If you would  like and share this,  subscribe to my NEWSLETTER. And please leave a comment.

Thanks and call anytime.


Solutions to Foundation Issues.


F R Solutions

You are reading this because you have a question or a problem relating to foundation repair or drainage control. I am here because I have answers to questions. I provide solutions to problems relating to foundation repair and drainage issues, in areas of expansive soils. That would include North Texas.

I assume you have been to websites that show you how they install piers. Unless you are looking for a job installing piers, that really doesn’t help you much. You need to know IF you need piers, if so how many and where, and what type of piers. if you do need piers, you need to know, what is the most you should pay for the piers and that they will be installed correctly.

However, and this is an extremely big, however, if you may not need piers you should be talking to someone who can explain if you do or do not need piers, and someone who can show you what you do need and why. You also need to know, that the person you are talking to will not have their compensation determined by the type and amount of repairs that they suggest.

It is important that you understand that many people who wind up with piers don’t need them.

if you have problems, you need solutions, and if you have questions or problems you need me. I will be your ADVOCATE, your CHECK, and BALANCE.  I will help you understand what is happening now, and what needs to happen to avoid, stop, and possibly reverse foundation movement. Oh, I also almost always save my clients money when they follow my advice.

What to know more? For information about my service, fee, or testimonials or general foundation repair and drainage correction, please check out myWEBSITE or my BLOG, or sign up for my NEWSLETTER. If you are in a hurry you may call, including evenings and weekends, 817-308-8186. My email isrichardrashinc@tx.rr.com.

Let me know what you think.

Foundation Watering.

Soaker hose

This is a soaker hose that can be used to water areas near the foundation.

Proper watering of your foundation is a good plan in areas of expansive soils, such as North Texas!  Without a watering program, the soils in North Texas are likely to shrink and swell unevenly with the change in moisture levels. Proper watering can, however, be somewhat complex. The amount and type of damage caused by drying soils can depend on several things.

Most important would be the condition of the soil when the foundation is poured.  If the foundation is poured when soils are wet, the soils may shrink when drying begins. This can cause the withdraw of support from under the soil. The soil may then “settle”.  Settlement can cause foundation problems that proper watering may help prevent, stop, and even reverse.

A more important reason for foundation watering is to prevent soils from pulling away from the structure, creating a void, which may allow large amounts of water to intrude up and under the slab. This can, and does, cause the reverse of settlement, which is upheaval.

With upheaval, soils swell, lifting portions of the foundation, and house, above other areas of the structure. While to the untrained eye the symptoms appear the same as with settling, the problem is completely different, and therefore, the solution is completely different.

The reason foundations move is the soil. If the expansion and contraction of the soil can be limited or contained, cracking should slow down, stop or maybe reverse itself. In certain circumstances, proper soaker hose  watering can help.

If you would like to know more details about the benefits of proper watering, as well as how to water properly, go this page on my website.