Many homes throughout Los Angeles and nearby cities are constructed with river rock foundations. River rock foundation is often favored for its curb appeal, though it can suffer from problems similar to those that brick foundations experience. The following information will assist homeowners in dealing with a potential river rock foundation repair or replacement.
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River Rock Appeal
Many homeowners in the greater Los Angeles area seek homes that have a distinct personality and curb appeal. Some of the most charming structures are historic homes, which sometimes have brick foundations or river rock foundations. While these foundation types create uniquely appealing homes, like any kind of home foundation, they can contend with issues over the years.
As structures age, signs of damage often begin to appear due to natural wear and tear of materials. Brick and river rock foundations in the greater Los Angeles area are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of seismic activity. Homeowners may notice that the rocks or bricks in their foundation have begun to degrade, crumble, or come loose. These problems can occur due to several different reasons.
River Rock Damage
One of the biggest problems that river rock foundation homeowners face is the mortar degrading. The river rock in the foundation can become loose over time if the mortar begins to degrade as it ages. This could cause the rocks to be easily pulled out or fall out of the foundation.
Another issue that river rock foundations and brick foundations face is dealing with unreinforced masonry. These foundation types are classified like this because there is no steel rebar present to hold the rocks or bricks together. Therefore, seismic retrofits are not possible for these foundation types, which means that earthquakes are particularly problematic for brick and river rock foundations.
It’s critical for homeowners to inspect their foundation regularly and be on the lookout for signs of foundation damage, such as cracks, crumbling bricks, water intrusion, visible slants, doors and windows that stick, and leaning chimneys. Homeowners should avoid repairing cracks or replacing bricks until a professional has evaluated whether or not an issue is surface or structural.
Additionally, brick or river rock foundation problems might not be visible on the surface or to the untrained eye since cracking can occur in the interior due to seismic activity. It’s therefore extra important for homeowners with these types of foundations to book regular professional inspections.
Available Foundation Solutions
Fortunately, there are solutions available for river rock foundation replacement or repair. One successful foundation repair solution involves installing a sister foundation next to the original foundation to bolster the river rock. A sister foundation installation maintains the original curb appeal of the home while providing structural security and protection.
Sister foundation installation is a less expensive option when compared to foundation replacement. However, if the foundation is in such a state of disrepair, foundation replacement might be necessary. Be sure to maintain your foundation and book regular inspections to avoid requiring such extensive work
Sometimes only partial repair work is needed depending on the level of damage. If the river rocks or bricks are intact, then re-mortaring might be all that is needed to solve the problem. The old mortar will need to be carefully removed, with the original materials being replaced with new mortar.
However, if the original materials are compromised, other repair options will be necessary. If the materials are only just starting to show their age, they can be treated with a sealant for protection against smoke, water, and other erosive properties. If the materials are too damaged for this treatment, they will likely have to be removed and replaced. During this process, the structure can be examined to ensure safety. The extent of replacement will depend on how large the damaged area is.
Related: Foundation Repair Los Angeles
Understanding the Causes
The best way to maintain a healthy home is to understand the root of problems. That way, homeowners can address issues in a way that offers long-lasting solutions rather than temporary fixes.
Professional inspections provide a thorough evaluation of the home so that solutions can target problems at their source and prevent them from occurring in the future.
Brick and river rock foundations are considered timeless, making them common foundation types for charming historic homes. However, it’s natural for homes to experience aging over time, which can manifest in crumbling, buckling, or staining of materials. Restorative work is therefore needed to return the home to its original integrity.
Historic homes sometimes contain air-dried bricks, as opposed to kiln-fired bricks, which make the materials more vulnerable to erosion. Chemicals such as car exhaust can begin to wear river rocks and bricks down over time and warp the original materials.
Foundations can also suffer due to seismic activity, initial design flaws, nearby construction, invasive tree roots, and changes in the soil. If you’re concerned about the structural integrity of your river rock or brick foundation, be sure to book a professional inspection as soon as possible.
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