Concrete Foundation Footings
Concrete Foundation Footings Play a Major Role
in the Structural Integrity of Your Home
By: Mark J. Donovan
At the base of every home are
concrete foundation footers. The home’s foundation walls rest on the concrete
footings. Concrete foundation footings play a major role in providing the overall
strength and integrity of your home. It is vital that the foundation contractor
assess the soil type when determining the size of the concrete foundation
footers. In addition, concrete foundation footers must be installed below the
frost line for your local area.
Besides a perimeter concrete foundation footing, footer pads or strips should
also be installed for supporting Lally columns and beams that in turn support
the weight of the home.
The specific dimensions for
concrete foundation footers, as already mentioned, are a function of the
soil type. They also vary depending upon the size and number of floors of
the home. Finally, local building codes also dictate specific dimensions and
concrete strength for concrete foundation footers.
The main purpose of concrete foundation footers is to spread the weight out
of the home’s foundation walls. Typically concrete footings are 2-1/2 to 3
times as wide as the concrete foundation wall thickness.
By distributing the
weight of the foundation walls and home over a larger surface area there is less
risk of the home settling. When a home settles cracks can form in foundation
walls and drywall. Sometimes these cracks can simply be small nuisances, but
other times they can create real structural concerns in the home. In addition, a
cracked foundation wall is an easy entry point for ground water.
For typical soils concrete foundation
footings are normally 16 to 22 inches in width and 6 to 16 inches in depth. If
the soil type is such that it supports less weight, such as soft clay soil, then
the concrete foundation footings may be constructed larger. In some cases, if
the soil is of poor load bearing capacity, more of it may be removed and then
replaced with compacted crushed and angular gravel.
When building the forms for concrete foundation footings, steel rebar should be
included in the forms to improve the overall tensile strength of the concrete
The amount and placement of the steel
rebar should be specified by a structural engineer to ensure a proper and strong
concrete foundation footing.
Ideally concrete foundation walls should be centered directly over the
center of the concrete foundation footings, however with a standard house
there can be some flexibility.
Often when installing concrete footings they are not always installed perfectly
straight and perpendicular due to the confined space working in the trench to
install the footing forms. As long as the foundation walls are resting entirely
on the concrete footings, however, there is typically no issue.
Photo By Mark Donovan
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