When building a concrete structure, making sure that the foundation is sound is perhaps the most important part of ensuring durability. One of the essential parts of creating a solid foundation is building concrete footings.
Concrete footings are built under the foundation and usually consist of concrete reinforced with rebar. This mixture is poured into an excavated trench and works to support the foundation and prevent it from settling.
These structures are particularly important if you are building in an area with soil that is troublesome or unstable. This because is the soil bearing capacity is low, you risk excessive settlement from both the foundation and the footing.
The construction of concrete footings is one of the most important reasons that concrete construction is best left to professionals, even if it is a small project. This is because a professional will best be able to assess the soil conditions in the area in which the construction is to take place. It is only once that assessment is done that a decision can be made regarding the correct depth and width of the footing, as well as the proper placement of the footing.
The placement of the footing is key to ensuring that the foundation receives the proper support. In turn, it will ensure that the final structure is completely stable.
The Effect of Soil on Concrete Footings
Most likely, you haven’t thought much about the footing of the concrete structures in and around your home or business, as well as the footing below the structure of your building itself. This is because, in normal soil, all you need is a 16-20 inch wide footing in order to handle the weight of a home.
However, this changes if you are building in an area with poor soil, particularly soft, clay soil. Similarly, if there is a soft zone under the whole or part of your foundation, the importance of a solid footing skyrockets.
This is because, in these areas, a footing must be carefully constructed. You cannot use the same dimensions for the footing that you would use in normal soil. Regardless of whether it performs well in good soil conditions, if the soil has a weak bearing capacity, the same footing will likely not perform to the same level, and the dimensions must be adjusted to account for it.
If not constructed properly, you risk the excessive settlement of the structure, and – rarely – complete failure. Depending on how the structure settles, excessive settlement can cause an issue. If it settles slowly and evenly, this is not much of an issue. However, the uneven settlement means the risk of damage to the structure and its contents. Even a quarter of an inch of uneven settlement, for example, means that you risk cracks in the masonry, plaster, and tile in a building.
However, this is simply one situation that can arise from improperly laid footings. If if the footing is laid off-center or the footing is undersized, the builder must decide whether or not to pause construction to call an engineer. If the builder has some experience with knowing about the bearing strength of soils, this process is quickened. If the footing is laid improperly, it may be possible to fix the mistake. However, this will inevitably increase the build time. This means hiring the best concrete contractor around is key to ensuring that your footing is laid properly and that your construction schedule is on track.
Concrete footings are required not only for homes and buildings, but also for building decks, pergolas, and more. An experienced contractor will ensure that you face no problems when it comes to laying down the footing and completing the construction of the structure.