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Terms of the Trade: Basements

Terms of the Trade Basements - Image 1


For this post, we're going to start outside and work our way inwards, so first we will start by going over the outside items.

  •  Grade
    • This refers to the ground level a home is on. It also refers to the angle of which the ground is at. Generally, the most favorable grade around a home is a downward-sloping grade, so that water runs away from the home.
  • Virgin Soil
  • The soil around the home that has not been disturbed when the home was built. Essentially when a home is built, a large "bowl" is dug out, where your foundation is laid. After the foundation is laid, the builder then fills the bowl back up. 
  • Backfill
    • This is the soil that that was replaced by the builder after the foundation was laid. This soil is usually pretty loose and "unsteady", a common cause of settlement.
  • Exterior Footing Drain
    • This is also referred to as an exterior drain tile and is placed on the footing or bottom of the walls. These drains are placed to drain off any water around the foundation walls and footings. These are usually large plastic pipes with slots/holes in them to allow water seepage. The problem with these drains is that they are often installed incorrectly which leads to a number of different problems.
  • Sub-Slab Soil or Floor Backfill
    • This is soil/rock/etc that is placed after the foundation has been poured, but before the basement floor/slab is poured.

Now onto the actual home and foundation itself. For this section, we will work from bottom to top.

  • Footing or Footer
    • These are on the edges of a home and help to spread out the weight of the home on more ground. This is important to do because a home (and everything inside of it) can weigh a lot, these footers help to bear that burden.
  • Basement Floor/Floor Slab/Slab
    • This is a pretty self-explanatory term, this is a slab of concrete that serves as the floor for a basement.
  • Foundation Wall/Basement Wall
    • Another self-explanatory term, this is part of the foundation, but it is also that wall of the basement. Since it is part of the foundation, it holds up the majority of the home's weight.
  • Floor/Wall Joint
    • Another easy one! This is where the floor slab and the foundation wall come together. The reason that this is important, is since it isn't a single slab, it leaves a gap between the two. This gap is a perfect area for water to come through and cause problems.
  • Footing/Wall Joint
    • Another area in which a gap is created by the two different slabs being poured separately. In this case, this is the joint, or area where the footing (or footer) meets with the foundation wall.
  • Sill Plate
    • This is a board that is laid horizontally around the top of the foundation (walls). This sill plate is basically used to construct the home off of. What I mean by that is that the studs and eventually walls are fastened to the sill plate for a more sturdy foundation.
  • Rim Joist
    • A rim joist is essentially the cap on the end of the floor joists. It gives the floor joists an anchor and holds everything together.
  • Floor Joists
    • These are the boards that run across a home, essentially creating the foundation for the floor of a home. These floor joists are also the ceiling for a basement.

While many of these you may have already known or could have guessed, with the upcoming blog posts about the basement, I thought it would be best to list out all of these "key terms" for basements, so that they won't have to be explained in detail in the upcoming posts. I hope you learned more about basements and foundations!

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