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What Is a Concrete Footing?: Anatomy of a Foundation

concrete footing construction

Even if the main purpose of footings and foundations is somewhat in line, the footing is actually there to provide stability to the foundation. In other words, concrete footings prevent the structure from settling due to unstable soil. Since they are essential for structural stability, future homeowners need professionals to construct them.

By assessing the state of the soil on the property, Michigan construction crews will decide the width, depth, and perfect place for this element. In case they overlook any of these, the whole structure will face numerous problems that will jeopardize safety and comfort. Read on to learn more as we discuss all the necessary details about concrete footings.

What Are Concrete Footings?

Just like their name says, concrete footings come from concrete. Builders reinforce them with rebar to give them that added strength to carry the load above them. When it comes to the size of the footing, it is in direct link with the size of the home that will sit atop of it.

The footing construction also depends on the moisture content and bearing capacity of the soil. The reason for this is that unstable and wet soils will make the foundation settle over time. This will damage the whole structure in numerous ways.

If the construction team does its work properly, the footing will provide enough stability and support for the foundation. But besides homes and multi-floor buildings, this structural element is also in use when constructing other projects like decks and pergolas.

The Process of Building a Concrete Footing

Similar to other construction processes, building a concrete footing comes in steps.

  • Dig up the ground to make room for it.
  • Mix the concrete on a safe surface where there’s no danger of unwanted elements ending up in the mixture and pour it into wooden forms.
  • Use refill material or man-moved soil to compact the base of the future home.
  • Wait for the concrete to cure.

It’s key to point out that not following these steps will result in eventual concrete footing failure.

Factors That Impact Footing Construction

Even if you might think that this type of structure is easy to construct, there’s much more to it than digging and pouring concrete into wooden forms. As such, here are two important factors to consider when making a footing.

Soil Condition

Not all soil is the same. Different types have varying properties that will react to the weight of the structure in their unique way. For example, denser soils are preferable instead of lighter ones. Hence, it’s key to consider how it will react to the footing. In construction terms, there are three different types of soil that a concrete footing will sit upon.

  • Man-moved soil
  • Backfill soil
  • Native soil layers

To properly construct a footing, every homeowner needs to consult a structural engineer. They will assess and inspect the soil and come up with a solution. By considering its properties, a structural engineer will decide whether you’ll need to replace the soil with a new type. Other options include mixing the existing ground with added materials to improve its load-bearing capacities.

Moisture Content

The second major factor is the moisture content of the soil. Depending on it, builders will determine the density of the concrete footing. In case you pour concrete into a hole with dry soil, it will suck the water out of the mixture and make the footing much weaker. To prevent this, it’s key to dampen the soil before any construction begins.

Nevertheless, not all soil types require dampening. For instance, clay doesn’t absorb water and there’s no need to make it wet before construction. But this doesn’t mean it’s all peaches and roses when dealing with clay soil. Since it has more moisture content, it will increase the water-to-cement ratio, weakening the concrete. This means that you’ll need to inspect the moisture level in it before you engage in any kind of construction atop of it.

The Pros of Concrete Footings

As we’ve said, concrete footings have numerous advantages. However, the main one is certainly their ability to support the foundation and keep the structure above them stable and safe. They prevent buildings and homes from settling, which is a major plus. But to do so, they need to be built properly, otherwise, you may begin to see cracks pop up in your foundation walls.

Concrete footings are your first line of defense. They will stand up to environmental loads and damaging natural forces will little to no fuss. Yet, this doesn’t mean that every structure needs a concrete footing. If you opt for a lighter, more modest home, chances are that it won’t be prone to structural damage like bigger, much heavier buildings and won’t need a foundation footing.

Fixing Foundation Settlement

Unfortunately, many homes suffer from a settling foundation. This is most often the result of poor construction. If you notice any signs of foundation settlement, like foundation cracks and sticking doors and windows, it’s essential to contact professional help immediately. Luckily, we got a great solution for you. Our team at FSM provides services for the Detroit area, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and surrounding areas in Michigan. You can schedule a free estimate now and solve all your foundation problems in no time. Do consider that the more you wait, the bigger the problem will become.

Concrete Footing FAQs

Foundation concerns should never be brushed off; they necessitate prompt attention and repair. Even minor cracks may indicate deeper structural concerns. If you spot any issues, consult foundation repair specialists like Foundation Systems of Michigan for a free inspection and repair quote. 

Ignoring foundation cracks can lead to more significant issues, potentially lowering your home’s value during resale. Addressing cracks with professional repairs ensures a solid foundation and maintains property value. 

The cost for foundation repairs varies based on multiple elements, including the severity of damage and the products employed. For a precise quote, reach out to Foundation Systems of Michigan. We offer free inspections and estimates, transparent cost structures, and versatile payment options

Leah Leitow

Leah Leitow

Content Writer

Leah is a Content Writer for Groundworks with nearly ten years of experience working in the foundation repair industry. Her experience ranges from working with homeowners to find the right solution to training inspectors and staff. In her background as a Michigan journalist, she gained invaluable insight into people's lives throughout our state. Leah lives in metro Detroit with her husband and two sons.

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