Dawson Foundation Repair
Dawson Foundation Repair
Dawson Foundation Repair

713-668-2110 (Houston)
214-234-8421 (Dallas)
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Dawson Was Recommended

Posted by on Oct 15, 2016 in General Interest | 0 comments

Dawson Foundation Repair obtains 50% of its new customers from referrals from past customers.

This Houston homeowner is requesting a foundation inspection after seeing a few cracks in the floor.  He is contacting us because two of his neighbors are foundation repair referrals. The good news is that it appears from the email that these cracks are not large.  The bad news is that his neighbors have had foundation problems in the past and his house is resting on the same clay soils and was probably built by the same home builder.  So it is likely that this homeowner will have similar foundation issues as his neighbors.

Of course we will need to inspect the house and its slab foundation. The elevation readings we collect from different parts of the house will greatly influence our recommendation. The best outcome for the home owner is that the foundation movement was minor and that he only needs to replace a few kitchen tiles. Another outcome, which is common, is that the foundation movement has been significant and that there has been uplift and / or settlement in one or more parts of the slab foundation. In these cases, our recommendation would be to install permanent Bell Bottom piers under those areas of the slab foundation that have settled and need support. We would also analyze the cause for any uplift, which is a less frequent problem. Uplift often occurs when there is an excess of water or moisture in one area of the soil that supports the foundation. This can occur with under slab plumbing leaks and poor drainage after rains.

Whatever the problem or problems, we will offer a comprehensive solution that will attempt to level the house as close as possible to the original elevation. The installed Bell Bottom piers will provide permanent stability and they have the ability to support 5 or 10 times the weight requirements. Therefore the home owner need not worry about placing heavy furniture or a home gym in the house. And garage areas with Bell Bottom Pier support will handle any weight of vehicle without difficulty.

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Do You Know the Weight of Your Home?

Posted by on Dec 7, 2014 in General Interest | 0 comments

Knowing the weight of your home will give you, the homeowner, a better appreciation of the weight being borne by the soil directed beneath the foundation. It should also give you a better appreciation of the tremendous forces of nature – that being soil movement, which is the primary cause of damage to concrete slab foundations in Texas.

Remember, the clay soils of Texas will shrink and swell in volume with changes in moisture content. During period of hot, dry weather the clay soils will lose water and shrink in volume. During periods of wet, rainy weather the clay soils will aborb water and swell in volume. This seasonal soil movement places huge stresses on rigid concrete foundations. And keep in mind that the foundation is supporting its own weight plus the weight of the house plus the weight of the contents inside the house.

The House + Foundation

For our analysis we are going to assume we are working with a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with 2000 square feet. After checking with various sources we collected some guidelines that we can use to calculate the weight of an average house. However, there can be significant variations of weight based on the method of house construction and the materials used. For example, homes with tile or concrete tile roofs will weigh significantly more than similar homes with a composition shingle roof.

For our purposes, we are going to use the following figures from our construction and structural engineering friends.

one story home – 200 pounds per square foot (house + concrete slab foundation)

two story home – 275 pounds per square foot (house + concrete slab foundation)

three story home – 350 pounds per square foot (house + concrete slab foundation)

The Contents

There is also a significant amount of weight in the home from personal possessions, furniture, and appliances. Again the weight can vary from household to household. And some items, like a fully loaded fireproof filing cabinet can weigh 1400 pounds. However, we are going to use a round number of 10,000 pounds for the contents of our hypothetical house. Keep in mind that if the homeowner owns a lot of books or a home gym this number could be much greater.


Did you forget about the weight of air? Well, it is not significant but air does have weight. We spoke with our heating and a/c friends and they told us a cubic foot of air weighs about 1.2 ounces. Therefore, our hypothetical 2000 square foot house will contain about 1200 pounds of air.

The Total Weight

OK, we are ready to add it all up for our 2000 square foot house – the house + foundation + contents + air.

400,000 pounds – (200 pounds/sq ft x 2000 sq ft) – weight of house + concrete slab foundation
10,000 pounds – weight of household contents
1,200 pounds – weight of air inside the house
411,200 pounds – total

Bell Bottom Piers have greater load capacity or the ability to bear weight than cheaper stacked concrete cylinder methods

Bell Bottom Pier – 5.8x greater Load Capacity; 13x larger Footprint in stable soil

Factor of Safety

This total, 411,200 pounds, is more than 200 tons for our hypothetical house. So why have we gone through this exercise to know the weight of your home? Because we want you, the homeowner, to know that any foundation repair method will have to support tons of weight. “Factor of Safety” is an engineering term that indicates how much weight a support structure can bear. The cheaper and more common stacked concrete cylinder (pushed piles) methods have a factor of safety = 1 or  incipient failure. “Incipient failure is a condition where any increase in load or condition will cause failure.” (from the page Comparison of Factor of Safety Between Bell-Bottom Piers and Pressed Piles.)

On the other hand, Bell Bottom Piers have a factor of safety = 5.8. They can bear significantly more weight, now and in the future.

Read some of the engineering reports and studies on our website to learn more about the pros and cons of various foundation repair methods.

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Price vs. Quality

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in General Interest | 0 comments

Price vs. Quality

Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten. Have you ever heard that phrase before? It is very true because when a product or service delivers quality the end result is a satisfied customer. On the other hand, a product or service that fails or is deficient in some way will never satisfy the customer regardless of how much or how little was paid. It is wise to review the price vs. quality before making a large commitment of money.

Everybody has had the experience of buying a product that seemed “economical” (cheap) at the time of purchase and then it broke a short time later. The price indicated it was probably “low quality” but the expectation was for greater use or utility. In these cases the cheap price is directly related to the low quality. The price or cost was low but the quick failure resulted in the complete loss of the money for the purchase.

Cars can be used as an example. Although the overall quality of all automobiles has improved in the last decade, who can remember the Yugo, the Pinto, and the AMC Gremlin? They had low purchase prices but higher than average repair incidents and very low resale value. So what is the conclusion? In general, a higher priced automobile will have fewer than the average number of repairs and a higher resale value. When all of the factors are taken into consideration – initial purchase price + cost of repairs + resale value – the higher priced automobiles may actually cost less in the long run. That is quality.

Here is the key when trying to compare initial purchase prices – “Will the higher priced product or service deliver superior functionality, efficiency, and long term results?” Usually the higher quality products and services will deliver these higher standards of functional use, lower cost use, and long term durability. Actually, with all important factors considered, the higher priced product may be a lower cost in the long run.

Do Your Research

Don’t accept the word of any or every foundation repair contractor. They all say they have the “best” product. None of them will tell a prospective customer that they offer a mediocre product at a mid-level price. That is why it is important to do your research. Find companies that have credibility because credibility counts. Ask the experts. Read the reviews and testimonials.

Does Dawson Offer the Highest Quality Foundation Repair Available in Texas?

  • Yes
  • Credibility
  • 30+ Years Experience
  • 600+ Online Testimonials
  • Favored by Structural Engineers
  • Bell Bottom Pier repair method with 5.8 times the Load Capacity and 13 times the “Footprint” when compared to cheaper, stacked concrete cylinder methods

Actually, we are probably the lowest cost method of foundation repair. Why? Two reasons. One, because there is rarely any need for a “re-level” and if so there is no charge. Two, and most important, Bell Bottom Piers do not fail – they are permanent.

When the cheaper, stacked concrete cylinders fail it is a complete failure of the repair job and a complete loss of the homeowner’s money. Read more about the engineering questions and concerns of the cheaper repair methods.

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Moving Sidewalks

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in General Interest | 0 comments

Moving Sidewalks

Sidewalks are very similar to concrete slab home foundations. They provide a level surface that is designed to carry weight – the weight of walking people. Sidewalks also use the soil for support. And that is when the problems start.

Sidewalks have Problems?

How can something as simple as a concrete sidewalk have problems?  Well, it is simple.  The clay soils underneath the sidewalk have absorption properties like a sponge.  During hot dry weather the clay soils can shrink dramatically in volume. When the soils shrink the sidewalk will fall in elevation – a process known as Settlement.

Sidewalks crack for the same reasons as home foundations - soil movement - Foundation Repair in Houston, Texas
Notice the photo above of a section of sidewalk. One portion of the sidewalk has fallen almost 5 inches below an adjoining section.  Why?  There could be several reasons for this – it could be the soil was not compacted properly before the concrete was poured.  Or it’s elevation could have been slightly lower at the time of construction and water penetration has gradually compacted the soil underneath. Or it could be the natural part of non-uniform shrinkage of the clay soil during a summer drought.  Or it could be a combination of any of the above.  Regardless, the concrete sidewalk has “settled” or fallen almost 5 inches below its original elevation. This is an example of what happens to home foundations – they settle too.

Sidewalks Moving Sideways?

Yes. The forces of soil movement are very strong and they move laterally as well as vertically. Please notice the photo below and see how a section of sidewalk has moved laterally 2 inches. The clay soil underneath the sidewalk has undergone a series of weather changes over the years.  At times the soil has become very wet and expanded in volume. In the next season the clay soil has become very dry during the summer and shrunk in volume. This repeated expansion and contraction in volume is not uniform and the result is that part of the sidewalk is no longer in alignment. This is another example of the stresses clay soils can place on your home’s foundation.
Sidewalks crack for the same reasons as home foundations - soil movement - Foundation Repair in Houston, Texas

Sidewalks Crack Too!

It is the same problem – clay soils. Expanding and Contracting every year – wet season and dry season. When the clay soil pushes the sidewalk above its original elevation this is called Upheaval. It is usually not a uniform force and can easily crack a section of concrete.  And when the clay soil shrinks dramatically then a section of the concrete has no support.  Like a home foundation, when the area of soil shrinkage becomes large enough the concrete slab will crack and “fall down” (settle) until it finds its support – the shrunken soil.

Sidewalks crack for the same reasons as home foundations - soil movement - Foundation Repair in Houston, Texas

These three photos of moving sidewalks show how clay soils can damage a concrete sidewalk – Settlement, Upheaval, Cracks – and these same forces of soil movement are being applied to your home’s concrete slab foundation. Can your foundation resist these forces?

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18 Foot Thick Foundation

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in General Interest | 0 comments

Now That’s a Foundation

Houston Foundation Repair

The new LA skyscraper will be taller than this Houston landmark

Recently a Korean company began construction on what will become the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Los Angeles will be the home of this skyscraper that will offer 900 hotel rooms, offices, and convention space. Its 18 foot thick foundation also boasts the longest continuous concrete pour in history as verified by Guinness World Records.

This massive foundation required 2,200 truckloads of concrete for the New Wilshire Grand, as the new building will be named. It was a process that was carefully coordinated and completed in 26 hours because the high strength concrete must be poured within 90 minutes of being mixed. The structural engineers included 7 million pounds of steel rebar that was part of the 18 foot thick concrete foundation – a massive amount. The weight of the concrete is about 84 million pounds. The new skyscraper will be 1100 feet tall and will cost more than $1 billion.


After the concrete pour is completed the curing process begins, which is the hardening of the concrete. The curing process will require about two weeks and the size of the foundation will necessitate a cooling process.  If a concrete foundation becomes too hot during the cure it could compromise the integrity of the concrete. Therefore the engineers have laid out 100,000 feet of polyethylene hoses with will carry 45 degree water for cooling the massive foundation. They expect the foundation to cure between a range of 120 to 160 degrees.

Why 18 feet Thick?

There are numerous considerations the structural engineers must consider when designing a foundation. All concrete slab foundations rest on soil and soils can move. Clay soils are notorious for expanding when wet and shrinking when dry. The 18 foot thickness will have to support the weight of a 1100 foot tall building, resist soil movement, and resist earthquake movement.

The structural engineers also include a safety factor into the design of the foundation. That is, they calculate the greatest expected or possible stresses on the foundation and then design it to withstand 2 or 3 or 4 times the worst possible stress.

How does this compare to Your Home Foundation in Texas?

There are several significant differences in the approach and design of this commercial foundation and your home foundation in Texas.

1) If the structural engineers make a mistake with this commercial foundation they and their companies will be sued by the building owner. A person who purchases a new home in Texas does not have this option because he/she/they “signed it away” in their purchase contract. A Texas homeowner is stuck with Mandatory Arbitration which has historically found in favor of the business owner between 90% and 97% of the time.

2) The foundation of this new skyscraper is designed to perform for hundreds of years. A new home concrete slab foundation in Texas rarely makes it to 10 years without significant cracks. New home foundations in Texas use a minimum amount of concrete because increasing the thickness would reduce the contractors’ profits.

Should you see any warning signs of foundation damage with your home then give us a call or send an email.

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Leaning Tower of Pisa

Posted by on Feb 15, 2014 in General Interest | 0 comments

Tower of Pisa – Foundation Problems?The Leaning Tower of Pisa illustrates the need for stable support under the foundation

The Tower of Pisa is one of the most famous buildings in the world because it has been leaning at a gravity-defying angle for over 800 years. The world wonders when it will collapse because in 1989 a similar leaning bell tower in the town of Pavia, Italy collapsed without warning. When this happened the civic officials closed the Tower of Pisa to the public fearing its imminent collapse.

Why does the Tower of Pisa lean?

All man-made structures are supported by the ground (soil) underneath. If the soil (or rock) is strong and durable then the building or structure should have few or no problems during its lifetime. However, if the soil is soft, easily compressed, and/or shrinks/swells then the structures built on top will experience movement.

The Tower of Pisa, and its foundation, is built on soft soil that is primarily sand, mud, and clay. The original builders realized they had a problem by the time the third story was being built. Their solution was to build the arches and columns on one side of the third story taller to compensate for the lean. Later both the fifth and final (eighth) stories were also built with slightly taller arches and columns on one side of the building. Unfortunately, these uneven floors did not solve the problem, which was soft and unstable soil.

The Stabilization

Modern technology and engineering were finally applied to the Tower of Pisa a few decades ago. Basically, the engineers wrapped the lower floors with steel bands while they removed some soil under one side of the building. They also used cables and over 800 tons of lead weights to try and pull the tower closer to a vertical orientation. Over a period of years their efforts were considered successful and the angle of lean was reduced from over 5 degrees to 3.97 degrees. The overall decrease in the lean was 19 inches.

The engineers think that the Tower of Pisa is now stable enough to survive the next 200 years barring any severe earthquakes. And the Tower of Pisa is now open to the public once again.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a great example of the importance of stable soil for any building or home. More information about the Leaning Tower of Pisa can be found at its Wikipedia web page.

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