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Rules of Thumb: Diagnosing Foundation Problems part XII

Getting Bigger Guns

Sometimes (roughly 5% of the time), after all the data is assembled it still is difficult to support any conclusion. Often, I invite debate among our team members to flesh out anything that could have been over looked or mistakenly applied. After all the discussions, sometimes we need to “get bigger guns”.

I will reach out to respected professionals in the forensic geotechnical world for an outside opinion. We may need to gather and examine some soil data. Deep soil borings can check the density, moisture content and soil type that could give good evidence or lack of supporting evidence of settlement. Collapsibility with water inundation can also be measured. These tests are done with large equipment, usually mounted on a large truck and are fairly expensive.

On the other hand, heave can be ascertained with a simple hand boring, which is less expensive. Since heave usually occurs in the top few feet, hand borings which are usually limited to a 5 feet or so depending on conditions, is usually sufficient to find evidence of highly compacted/highly expansive soils that could heave.

Soil testing is done by Geotechnical Engineers. It can be involved and complicated with many variations to find answers for many different things. Most of the time, the full investigation is only needed for lawsuits stemming from Insurance claims. However sometimes limited investigations can be useful as bigger guns when all the parts of a ‘Level B investigation “ are not sufficient to support recommendations. 

geotechnical drill rig

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