Why are Caissons, Retaining Walls and Foundations always in danger from intruding groundwater?

In 2015, a construction worker standing at the edge of a caisson that was built to prevent groundwater from entering an excavation, was literally sucked down and trapped in crushed stone that surrounded the caisson.  In essence, groundwater seeped into the construction site and created a pressure differential between the outside and the inside of the caisson, which in turn liquefied the soil and created a “quicksand” suction, pulling the worker in with the slurry of gravel!

Thankfully, in this case the worker was saved from serious injury by his colleagues, but this was an important demonstration of the dangerous effects of groundwater intrusion under homes, buildings, and all types of subsurface structures.

We’ve all heard of and seen photos of sink holes, which swallow buildings, parking lots, cars, and even people.  Quite often, these hidden, subsurface problems happen because not enough consideration was given to how groundwater affects the construction of caissons, retaining walls, and of course, concrete foundations, all of which are dug deeply into soil that often is permeated by groundwater.

What considerations must be made for concealed, subsurface groundwater conditions?

If your home or building has, or requires, any subsurface construction underneath it, you must make sure that your engineers and construction specialists have taken into consideration how groundwater will affect the stability of these structures.

For example, the biggest enemy of your home’s concrete foundation will likely be water intrusion.  Such water coming in contact with your foundation can erode soil particles away from under the foundation – a phenomenon called, “piping” which can progress quite quickly – and the gaps left behind in the soil can literally cause your foundation to sag, crack, and fail, leaving you with a huge repair bill.  Such water intrusion can also create pressure on subsurface structures such as the footing of a retaining wall, shifting it, and eroding its stability.

When construction specialists such as the ones at Weinstein Construction work on building retaining walls, caissons, and foundations, they always do so in conjunction with the advice of licensed engineers, and then keep a watchful eye and employ various measures to protect against the harmful effects of groundwater, as necessary and required.

For example, Weinstein Constructions professionals often install drains (which can filter water seepage out using sand and gravel, so the soil under a structure cannot erode), construct deep vertical cutoff walls (which hold groundwater at bay), inject high-pressure grout to create an impenetrable curtain against water intrusion, and even install water pumps (which relieve water pressure, by draining water away).

All these important methods can be used, when necessary, to keep groundwater seepage out, and in turn, keep the subsurface structures, and the people living above them, safe and sound.

Who can help mitigate subsurface groundwater conditions?

You can trust the professionals at Weinstein Construction, the Los Angeles region’s best foundation repair and basement waterproofing company, to help you deal with subsurface groundwater intrusion!  We help all homeowners and commercial property owners with drainage solutions, including leaky basement repair, basement wall sealing, French drain installation, Caisson installation, foundation cracks repair, and retaining walls installation.  In fact, we are the region’s best retaining walls contractor!

Act now to protect your home against the devastating effects of hidden groundwater!  call Weinstein Construction today at (818) 855-5752 for a free inspection and review of all your needs!