Explaining A Concrete Footing
Footings help the foundation do its work yet, for some reason, homeowners don’t pay as much attention to them as they should. Many homeowners only focus on their foundations, forgetting that they also need footings. Without these structures, the foundation won’t be as stable or sturdy as it is supposed to be.
What Are Footings?
Each house rests on a foundation under which there might be a footing. This structural element is formed using concrete and rebar reinforcement. The bottom of the trench has to be level while its sides have to be straight. Common footing designs include:
Spread footing: Has a broader base that spreads the structure’s weight over a larger area than the load-bearing wall that it supports.
Stepped footing: This type of footing is isolated and helps transfer the load from unstable to stable soils.
Trench footing: Made from reinforced poured concrete, it’s the gold standard in foundation construction.
Contractors recommend footings in areas with expansive or shifting soils, as they’re likely to cause foundation settlement. Footings are suitable for decks, retaining walls, and pergolas, among other structures.
How to Build Concrete Footings
Here’s how concrete footings are built.
- The soil is first dug up.
- Next, wooden formwork is set up.
- Concrete is mixed on a clean surface.
- Concrete is poured right into the formwork.
- Refill material or soil is brought to the site.
- The home’s foundation is compacted, and
- The concrete cures within a couple of days or weeks.
Factors That Impact Footing Construction
Even if you might think that this type of structure is easy to construct, there’s much more to it than digging and pouring concrete into wooden forms. As such, here are two important factors to consider when making a footing.
Not all soil is the same. Different types have varying properties that will react to the weight of the structure in their unique way. For example, denser soils are preferable instead of lighter ones. Hence, it’s key to consider how it will react to the footing. In construction terms, there are three different types of soil that a concrete footing will sit upon.
- Man-moved soil
- Backfill soil
- Native soil layers
To properly construct a footing, every homeowner needs to consult a structural engineer. They will assess and inspect the soil and come up with a solution. By considering its properties, a structural engineer will decide whether you’ll need to replace the soil with a new type. Other options include mixing the existing ground with added materials to improve its load-bearing capacities.
The second major factor is the moisture content of the soil. Depending on it, builders will determine the density of the concrete footing. In case you pour concrete into a hole with dry soil, it will suck the water out of the mixture and make the footing much weaker. To prevent this, it’s key to dampen the soil before any construction begins.
Nevertheless, not all soil types require dampening. For instance, clay doesn’t absorb water and there’s no need to make it wet before construction. But this doesn’t mean it’s all peaches and roses when dealing with clay soil. Since it has more moisture content, it will increase the water-to-cement ratio, weakening the concrete. This means that you’ll need to inspect the moisture level in it before you engage in any kind of construction on top of it.
The Pros of Concrete Footings
As we’ve said, concrete footings have numerous advantages. However, the main one is certainly their ability to support the foundation and keep the structure above them stable and safe. They prevent buildings and homes from settling, which is a major plus. But to do so, they need to be built properly, otherwise, you may begin to see cracks pop up in your foundation walls.
Concrete footings are your first line of defense. They will stand up to environmental loads and damaging natural forces will little to no fuss. Yet, this doesn’t mean that every structure needs a concrete footing. If you opt for a lighter, more modest home, chances are that it won’t be prone to structural damage like bigger, much heavier buildings and won’t need a foundation footing.
Here’s Why You Should Go with a Concrete Footing
Concrete footings have many purposes in a home or a building, but their primary role is to hold your house together. In other words, footings are the anchors that prevent your house from settling.
Building a house on bare earth means you’ll have to deal with cracks due to natural forces. A properly constructed footing can shield your home from environmental loads and damaging natural forces.
However, not all structures require footings. A good example is a shed, which isn’t heavy or prone to structural damage.
For more information about concrete footings or how you can protect your foundation, get in touch with Groundworks. We can arrange a free foundation repair inspection and quote and recommend the best fixes for your foundation.