Data points are key when it comes to preserving concrete foundations, and one company is harnessing data to revolutionize the way those foundations can be maintained.
Steadfast Foundation Technologies, LLC, a Texas-based company, has developed a sensor that can be installed on a foundation to read data about how it interacts with the soil around it.
The SlabSure Foundation Monitoring System is installed on the outside of a home’s foundation. It takes measurements of the foundation every hour, providing a large data pool about that foundation’s movements.
Adrian Vuyk, CEO of Steadfast Foundation Technologies, said the device can be invaluable for concrete contractors who are seeking to understand how a new mixture will perform.
“We can do real-time studies on new and novel technologies,” Vuyk told WOC360.com. “You want to use a new additive, a new rebar, what we’re able to do is see in real-time before you get to closing whether or not the foundation behaves different with the new technology versus the old technology.”
How the foundation monitoring systems work
According to the company’s website, the foundation monitoring systems come with tubing that houses sensors to measure a foundation. The sensors capture data that can then be accessed on SlabSure’s website via a mobile app.
Vuyk said recent weather patterns across the U.S. have caused many to become concerned about the impact that droughts have on concrete foundations.
Vuyk said soil will contract and crack in droughts, giving it an appearance similar to a dried lakebed. Those types of conditions can cause soil to contract, leaving a gap between a foundation and the surrounding soil.
“Ultimately, left uncorrected droughts will lead to foundation damage,” he said, adding that foundations in droughts can settle and crack. “Once failures happen it’s not reversable because it doesn’t fix itself.”
According to Vuyk, the SlabSure Foundation Monitoring System can capture over 300,000 pieces of data over the course of a year. It measures how a foundation can move, and that data, when taken into consideration with how wet or dry conditions are, can provide information about how a foundation reacts to those conditions.
Origins of the foundation-monitoring product
Vuyk said his company made the technology readily accessible for homeowners after the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, which caused widespread flooding in Texas in 2017.
After the hurricane, Vuyk said his company’s phones began ringing nonstop with questions from homeowners concerned about how their foundations would hold up against standing water.
“We said, why not put a tube on the outside of the foundation and measure directly on the outside and make it so the homeowner can monitor the foundation and benefit from the measurements immediately.”
Vuyk said the foundation monitoring systems are “like a check-engine light for your foundation” and added that major concrete repair companies are beginning to become interested in the technology because it can identify issues that could cause future foundation failures.
He said foundation monitoring systems take away risk, and builders are coming around as well.
“We’re beginning to be able to prove to the builder that this new approach provides just as much stability as what they have been doing for 30 years,” Vuyk said. “That’s huge.”