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.
When installing footings, your contractor will have to get the depth, width, and strength right. The footing width and depth depend on the soil conditions, soil strength, and the type of structure you’re building. Local codes require one-story buildings to have footings that are 12 inches wide and a load-bearing value of 1,500 PSF (pounds per square feet). In winter, the footings should go 12 inches below the frost line. If you live in an area with extreme weather, the concrete footings must have 3,000 PSF.
How Are Concrete Footings Built?
Building contractors have a way of doing things and here’s what a typical concrete footing installation looks like:
- Soil is excavated from the foundation.
- Wooden forms are set up in the trenches.
- Fresh concrete is mixed onsite and poured into the formwork.
- The poured concrete is left to set in.
- The trenches are filled with refill material or soil.
- The foundation is compacted properly.
- The concrete footing is left to cure.
Factors to Consider When Constructing Footings
When constructing your concrete footings, your contractor will have to factor in several things.
The soil type under and around your footings and their conditions will come into play. Both will determine the footings’ health and strength. Also, the degree of soil compaction is critical in footing construction. Backfill that’s transported from another location must be compacted, otherwise, settlement may occur.
Ask a local engineer to check the soil around your home and tell you whether it can bear the load of your home. They might recommend wider footings or more support if the soil is shifting.
Your contractor can also mix the underlying soil with aggregate to bolster it. We hope you’ll never get to the point of excavating and replacing the native soil with backfill. But that’s a reality you might have to face.
Like it or not, soil moisture also determines how dense your footings are going to be. Some soils tend to clump together in dry weather, and this can get in the way of compaction. In wet conditions, their particles can disintegrate and lower their density.
Additionally, different soil layers have different temperatures and moisture levels. When the structural load goes through each layer, you can expect them to behave differently. Ensure that your builder determines the current moisture content before construction commences.
Should You Create Concrete Footings?
From our experience, concrete footings are a fantastic choice for any modern home. They do provide ample support to your home and protect it from destructive forces such as environmental loads. However, footings may not be necessary for every structure.
Do you suspect that your concrete footings are failing or your foundation has problems? Get in touch with Complete Basement Systems for a free foundation inspection and repair quote. We’ll assess your footings and the foundation and recommend an appropriate fix.