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Bustling thirty miles south of Salt Lake City – just over the “point of the mountain”, Utah County rests in a deep valley in the northern half of this beautiful Rocky Mountain state. Famous for its rugged mountain views, burgeoning lake, spotless neighborhoods, and home of the BYU Cougars and UVU Wolverines – over six hundred thousand are proud to call it home.
Geographically, the lake rests at the foot of the Wasatch Mountain Range, where cities like Saratoga Springs, American Fork, Orem, and Provo, thrive. Given the diverse geography throughout the Wasatch Front, build sites are often found in many different elevations and plains, with some even resting on sloped hills, unstable soil, or even on the side of a mountain.
While the gorgeous views, lack of crime, good-hearted American families and businesses thrive here – there are many hazards that can come with living in unstable, rocky, sandy, or blue-clay soil. If foundations are cracked, settling or even the dreaded…sinking, to leave them unrepaired can cause irreparable harm – or could even cause a home to eventually collapse.
At Rhino Foundation Systems, we work hard to prevent buildings from suffering these fates long term, regardless whether the work needs to be performed on an existing home, a fairly new build, or a commercial facility.
Below are some possible threats that can encumber homes or buildings – by affecting the stability of foundations:
Abnormal Weather Patterns
Utah is no stranger to shifting weather. Located as a mountainous state in the midwest, it is centered between the snowy regions of the north, and the harsh sunshine from the lands near the Gulf. Utah has been experiencing less snowfall during the winters, less rain, and heavy amounts of dry weather or drought conditions during the hot summers. All of these changing patterns lead to one issue for homeowners and owners of buildings: shifting and unstable soils can wreak havoc on foundations.
Shifting soils bring cracks and fissures. When there is a heavy rainfall or downpour, without a robust interior Rhino Drainage System, water can accumulate on the surface; and then gravity and hydrostatic pressure will force it down to surround and go underneath a foundation’s walls and floors. Water can seep through those crevices and cause untold damage. Of course, the same is true if there is too much water – whether from a heavy rainfall, a broken sprinkler, clogged drain, or other calamity which can bring excess water to a foundation.
Earthquakes in Utah can and do happen….
March 18th, 2020: a 5.9 Magna Earthquake swept through the northern part of Utah.
The Wasatch Mountain Range rests along the Wasatch Fault Line, and because of this, even small amounts of activity in the plates of the fault line can cause rocks and the surface of a mountain to crack and tear. If these events happen anywhere remotely close to a home, the resulting damages can be disastrous.
This is a true threat, because earthquakes can upheave entire land masses – leaving foundations broken, cracked and fragmented.
Geology of Earthquakes in Utah
Utah has experienced 17 earthquakes greater than magnitude 5.5 since pioneer settlement in 1847, and geological studies of Utah’s faults indicate a long history of repeated large earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 and greater prior to settlement. Utah is not on a boundary between tectonic plates where most the world’s earthquakes occur, but rather is in the western part of the North American plate. However, earthquakes in Utah are related to interactions with the Pacific plate along the plate margin on the west coast of the Unites States.
There is a 57% probability that the Wasatch Front region will experience at least one magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake and a 43% probability of at least one magnitude 6.75 or greater earthquake in the next 50 years.
Generalized cross section showing a fault rupture which causes an earthquake and generates seismic waves. This is a conceptual diagram of how the Wasatch fault affects the Salt Lake Valley and does now show any specific seismic event.
Stretching, or horizontal extension of the crust produces a type of dipping (or inclined) fault called “normal” fault. The movement of normal faults is characterized by the crust above the fault plane moving down relative to the curst below the fault plane. This up/down movement differs from movement on strike-slip faults like the San Andreas in California, where the crust on one side of the fault slides horizontally past the crust on the other side.
Heavy rain and snow can also damage a foundation. Excess water can not only cause structural damage, but if left unchecked – can undermine well-meaning build sites and well-laid foundations. Unwanted water can cause a home to settle and sink – due to shifting or collapsible soils. Shifting soils can eat away at the materials which foundations are made of. This is why Rhino Foundation Systems happily installs robust drainage and basement waterproofing systems.
If not consistently maintained and repaired, other hazards can creep in and cause problems with a foundation:
- Poor Plumbing
- Foliage/Tree Root Invasion
- Shoddy Construction
- Inferior Soil
- Seasonal Conditions
- Improper Remodeling
- Extensive Landscape Alterations
Rhino Foundation Systems offers all services statewide. If something happens that generally would be seen as odd for an area that a homeowner lives in when contrasted with another region where that event is more common, we can offer the service because we offer our services anywhere they may be needed in the state under the locations Rhino Foundation Systems is functional within. Utah County is no exception, not its mountain side homes, and not its lakeside estates either. Here is a brief bullet list of the services we offer:
- Basement Waterproofing
- Crawl Space Encapsulation
- Carbon Fiber
- Foundation Leveling
- Helical Piers
- Concrete Leveling
- Polyurethane Foam
- Concrete Replacement
Frequently Asked Questions
The price range for repairs is always subject to change depending on the extent of damage to the foundation, structure, or any aspect of the facility that needs to be brushed up on. If your home is settling, work will need to be done to bring its value back and to get it into a decent state of being. Repair costs at damages like this can cost more than $15,000, and often more than that depending on how difficult it is to access and work on the area We recommended that anybody experiencing issues act quickly and call for foundation repair as soon as possible to avoid having to spend more than necessary on repairs.
Some damage may be inevitable depending on the geographical location of your home. However, the main cause for most damage, water, is something that can be prevented by simply maintaining a good drainage system, particularly one that causes water to flow away from your home. Making sure to have your foundation, drainage systems, and plumbing inspected at least once or twice a year is one of the best things you can do, because if something is found to be wrong, you can call a foundation repair business to come fix the problem before it becomes extremely problematic. The key is being diligent and seeking help as soon as possible.
This will entirely depend on the situation at hand. Different damages will call for different solutions. For example, if water damage is your problem, we need to get rid of any potential flooding, and waterproof the facility after that. However, if your home is sinking, we may need to install piers or piles to raise your home back up and stabilize it. For a more in depth explanation of what each of our services is used for, visit our services page here.
The time we will need to allocate for repairs generally doesn’t stretch past 3 days, but in some of the areas where we are dealing with heavy damages, it may take a bit longer. Time will mostly be dictated by the damage at hand, but we work as quickly and as efficiently as possible.