Most homeowners know a lot about their home. But how many know what’s going on underneath? Unless the property sits on rock, there’s no easy way to tell the stability of the ground. Sometimes it remains intact for years and then suddenly a crack opens or a slab starts to settle. Other times, issues happen within a year, which can indicate poor fill or compaction.
Settling problems can be caused by a number of other things like using frozen material during cold months, and improper compaction techniques and/or equipment. Water movement is also a big problem. Many contractors used fine sand to fill houses and condos across Anchorage and the Valley. Water carries these fine soil particles, which create voids and cause settling. Broken waterlines, leaks in drains or downspouts can all be signs of settling issues underground.
It’s no surprise that earthquakes trigger problems. Calls to Mobile Concrete and Grout of Alaska always spike after even small earthquakes.
But the November 30, 2018 earthquake was the perfect storm to cause major settling issues. The recent rain and unseasonably warm temperatures created high ground water. Major movement from the 7.1 quake and all the aftershocks created problems for thousands of Alaskans. The worst cases involved buildings with peat and/or silt underneath with sand for fill.
If you experienced problems or you want to know if you should expect problems in the future, the only way to tell what’s underneath your home is by drilling a core to firm ground and then examining the makeup. A geotech engineer will determine the best method to stabilize the ground and/or raise the structure. Piles and/or compaction grouting can be used separately or in conjunction, depending on the soil and how far the building needs to be lifted. Voids are filled with fluid grout and cellular concrete because of its strength, low weight and non-shrink characteristics.
Addressing settling issues is a very specific field of study and unfortunately there’s a lot of misinformation circulating. If you’re worried about your home, talk to a geotech engineer at Mobile Concrete and Grout of Alaska. With 40 years of experience, you can trust us with your home. We’ll find the most efficient and cost effective way to fix your home. Visit our website and see for yourself, www.concretealaska.com, or give us a call (907) 349-0680.