What is Commercial Foundation Repair? ( Definition, Primary Causes, and Where to Find a Contractor)

Do you own or manage a business you believe may require foundation repair? Does your warehouse floor need to be releveled to avoid trip-hazards or maybe your parking garage is sinking due to foundation settlement? 

Commercial foundation repair can be a daunting undertaking, especially if you need to convince the board of trustees or corporate – but it’s worth it. Take a deep breath. The good news is commercial foundation repair can return equity to your property and eliminate signs and symptoms. 

Dalinghaus Construction Inc. has serviced thousands of foundations (residential and commercial) in Southern California and Arizona. We’re here to walk you through the educational process, teaching you everything you need to know about commercial foundation repair.

This article covers a definition of commercial foundation repair, the primary cause of commercial foundation settlement, and commercial foundation repair tools.   

Commercial Foundation Repair Definition

 Commercial foundation repair is a broad term that generally refers to steel pier system underpinning, polyurethane deep injection/void fill, and carbon fiber crack repair on a large industrial scale for a business. Obviously, the size and scope of these industrial projects tend to be significantly larger than residential foundation repair. Bigger and heavier buildings require more material, which, of course, translates into a larger project timeframe and cost.   

Tilt-up buildings often require commercial foundation repair. A tilt-up building is where the walls of the building are poured flat on the ground or brought in prefabricated before they are lifted/tilted into place.  

Structures that may require commercial foundation repair include:  

  • Loading docks
  •   Warehouses
  •   Parking garages
  •   Small office spaces
  •   Malls
  •   Grocery stores
  •   Gas stations
  •   Apartment complexes
  • Tilt-up buildings  

A great example of commercial foundation repair is when Dalinghaus Construction Inc. assisted Macy’s in Oceanside, California. The Macy’s structure was suffering from major subterranean water issues that created voids beneath the fashion plaza. We filled these voids via polyurethane, an expanding foam, to densify the soil and return support to the structure’s foundation.

To learn more about the incredible soil densification properties of polyurethane, read our article 5 Steps to Polyurethane Foam Injection (From Drillholes to Cure).   

The Primary Cause of Commercial Foundation Settlement

Commercial foundation repair is required primarily due to poor soil conditions. In the foundation repair business, these weak soils are often referred to as incompetent, non-load-bearing soils (such as loam, silt, and various clays). We lump these incompetent soils under the term “expansive soil.”

Expansive soil refers to any soil that swells or shrinks considerably in direct correlation with the water table. Wet soil expands. Dry soil shrinks. This often seasonal and repetitive drying and sinking can effectively “bury” or “sink” a foundation – even of large buildings, such as warehouses.  

Commercial foundations, and foundations in general, serve one primary purpose – to distribute the structure’s load evenly, providing support and stability. Foundation settlement rarely sinks a foundation in a uniform fashion, that is, where the foundation settles evenly. Uneven settlement exerts a tremendous amount of stress upon a foundation, resulting in signs and symptoms.  

Common signs and symptoms of commercial foundation issues include sloped floors (does a marble zip across your floor), cracked warehouse floors, cracked drywall/stucco, and door/window frames that are out of square, difficult to open, and close

To learn more about common signs and symptoms of foundation issues in order to help get a better idea of what you’re dealing with, read our article 5 Signs and Symptoms of Foundation Issues.  

Tools of Commercial Foundation Repair

Commercial foundation repair and residential foundation repair enjoy the same tools of the trade; although, commercial foundation repair utilizes bigger and badder versions of the baseline repair materials.

Steel pier systems, such as push piers and helical piers, act as underground stilts that are driven to competent, load-bearing soil and/or bedrock. Push piers and helical piers come in a variety of different sizes to best accommodate different project specs. Piers are comprised of galvanized steel, some of which can withstand a max load capacity of 74,000 pounds.

For tilt-up buildings with a continuous footing, push and helical piers are generally utilized every 4 feet, as opposed to every 6 feet in residential repairs. The piers need to be utilized within a closer space to handle the additional, industrial weight.

Some tilt-up buildings have pad footers between each building panel (and there’s no footing between pad footer to pad footer). In this case, piers are utilized on the pad footers and the walls.

Polyurethane is another common material utilized for soil densification and to void fill for commercial foundation underpinning. In addition, carbon fiber material and epoxy are both utilized for commercial foundation crack repair.

At the end of the day, the engineers ultimately decide the specs of the project and what material to utilize. In short, the size of the material always corresponds with the load of the structure. Our bids are always based on the design from the engineer.

Find the Right Commercial Foundation Repair Contractor for You

In this article, you learned that commercial foundation repair is a broad term that generally refers to steel pier system underpinning, polyurethane deep injection/void fill, and carbon fiber crack repair on a large industrial scale for a business. You learned that expansive soil is the primary cause of commercial foundation settlement.  And, finally, you now understand the main steel pier materials of the commercial foundation trade.

We understand any commercial foundation repair is a complicated and time-consuming enterprise. Dalinghaus Construction Inc. has over 100 years of combined foundation repair experience.

If you’re not ready to book a commercial foundation inspection with Dalinghaus Construction Inc. and/or would like to get several different bids, read our article 5 Best Foundation Repair Companies in Southern California.

However, if you would like to book a free commercial foundation inspection and you live in Southern California and Arizona, click on the link below.  


Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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