News and Events

It All Started With Just a Crack?

posted 11.12.2020

Wall crack

This crack was a sign of much larger problems for a strip mall.

As with many projects that seem straightforward at first, the issues uncovered at a Dallas-Fort Worth area strip mall seemed simple. The 1970s-era shopping center project started with a client request after a gypsum wall crack observed in the dining area of a tenant lease space became a noticeable eyesore.

An initial site visit revealed there was additional distress beyond just the observed crack, that the client had not observed in the property. The original scope of services provided by the local Terracon Facilities team included performing a relative floor elevation (RFE) survey, ground penetrating radar (GPR) scanning, limited visual condition assessment, and a sanitary sewer observation (camera scoped). These services were provided to determine the deviation in floor tolerances; detect areas of voids and anomalies under the slab; identify and document distress observed on the interior, exterior, and roof; and detect breaks in the sanitary lines.

Based on findings from each of the tasks, correlations of distress observed and the foundation’s differential movement were made at multiple locations. Results of the GPR and RFE survey were verified by drilling ½” diameter holes in the slab in regions where settlement was pronounced and observed via a borescope camera.

Outdated sanitary lines

These brittle cast iron sanitary lines were replaced.

The camera scoping of the plumbing lines indicated areas where breaks in the pipe were present, which coincided with the differential movement and distress observed.

After the team delivered a comprehensive report documenting our findings and recommendations, the client retained Terracon to provide consulting for extensive repairs to the plumbing system of the entire strip mall.  Terracon’s services also included geotechnical and asbestos testing, which were required as part of the remedial and replacement construction activities.

Almost two years from the initial call, the old and faulty plumbing lines under the strip mall were replaced, damages repaired, and lease space renewed, restoring the property to desired value and utilization. Services proposed by a consultant can sometimes seem overwhelming to a client; however, a comprehensive and qualified approach can prevent a multitude of problems later and return the building to a revenue producing asset as intended, delivering success to our clients.


Daniel BetzDaniel Betz, EIT is a staff engineer with the Facilities division based in Dallas, Texas. With more than seven years of experience in engineering, Daniel has developed working knowledge in design, analysis and assessment of residential, light commercial and industrial buildings with a special emphasis on foundation systems.