All You Need to Know About Foundation Reinforcement

Learn how to make your home’s foundation stronger

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Let’s be honest, very few of us think about the foundation of our house until there is a problem with it we have to handle! 

However, you should consider investing in your foundation reinforcement in advance when it is still in a decent condition. Like that, you will avoid any troubles and issues with it later.

Why strengthening of existing foundation is needed? Well, our homes are exposed to all kinds of elements, such as rains, heavy snowfalls, general soil erosion, and somewhere even floods! In addition, the weight of a house also creates quite a great pressure on the house’s foundation. 

So no wonder this element of the house needs to be maintained properly.

Foundation pouring and reinforcement
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In this article, we will provide you with four methods of foundation wall reinforcement. You will find out why the foundation of your home should be strengthened at all, and how you can define that it is time to do it. Like that, you will avoid any issues with the most important part of your house.

How to Reinforce Foundation Of a House

Repair of the old foundation of the city building
By vista.com

For those who are not aware of house foundation reinforcement nuances and specifics, there are four most commonly used ways to do this. The method you choose will depend on several factors: 

  1. the type of your foundation
  2. the amount of damage caused to it
  3. the purpose of repair

If you have found out that your house foundation requires extra support, here is how this could be done.

Underpinning

The method of underpinning is typically used in two cases: either when you need to increase the depth of the foundation or when you need to repair the foundation if it has any significant and visible damage. 

For example, underpinning may be the right method for you if your house already has cracks in it, especially if the cracks are wider than a quarter of an inch and visible. In any case, there are several types of underpinning methods that can be used.

Mass Pour 

This method is the one that is most commonly used when you need to fix and reinforce your foundation. When this method is applied, the foundation of a house is excavated in sections to below the footing. Then, concrete is placed into each pit exposed. This procedure is repeated until the area is completely underpinned.

All You Need to Know About Foundation Reinforcement
itishouse.com

 

Screw Piles and Brackets

This is another type of underpinning method that involves the use of screw piles and brackets. This method of house foundation reinforcement is quite labor-consuming but luckily, it can be done either by hand or with a smaller excavator. 

All You Need to Know About Foundation Reinforcement
By itishouse.com

Another good feature of it is that this method is quite a faster option with a reduced amount of vibrations. It means that it is safer for your foundation and the entire building since you will less likely cause damage to other areas of the property.

 

Pile and Beam

This method of underpinning is done through the installation of a mini-pile on either side of the walls impacted. Then, all brickwork should be removed under the wall, and then reinforced concrete is placed in this area. This method of foundation reinforcement is beneficial in situations where access is limited or when there is a high load capacity.

 

Piled Raft

This method of house foundation reinforcement is used when the entire building needs to be underpinned, which is not that common. In particular, this method may become handy if the foundation of the house is too deep for other methods or if the soil is way too hard for any excavations and digging.

For this method of reinforcement, piles are located at various locations, and then pockets are broken out under the footing. Then, the process involves placing reinforced needle beams to hold the weight of the wall.

As you can see, the method of underpinning offers quite a wide range of alternative options depending of the specifics on your foundation and the soil. But if none of these suit you, check out the rest of the methods available.

 

Jacketing of a House’s Foundation

Jacketing of foundations is another method you might heard about. This method is used when there are columns that require strengthening. This is typically a common need when adding extra load to the wall, such as through expansions. 

So in order to make sure the wall is strong enough to handle this, it may be necessary to widen the existing foundation or add more strength to the foundation that is already present. In this case, the team constructs a concrete jacket that is added to the existing footings of the building.

 

Mudjacking the Foundation Of a House

You might think that mudjacking uses mud, however, this method of house foundation reinforcement doesn’t quite use mud in fact. It is a method that is used for improving the foundation of smaller footprint spaces. 

For example, it is often used for steps, small concrete surfaces, and porches if they have small holes that should be filled in. In this case, cement and other materials are injected into small holes that have been placed into the concrete. The material expands, which helps to raise the slab that is no longer aligned into place.

 

House Lifting and Leveling

House lifting might be useful when it is necessary to avoid flood damage. We should note at once that house lifting is never an easy-to-do process! However, you can use a hydraulic jack to lift the house by placing it under the building.

This process of foundation reinforcement removes the actual structure of the building from the foundation itself and raises it with screw jacks. It can help a lot when there is a need to relocate the structure or to improve the foundation underneath it.

No matter what the situation is, you have to hire professional contractors to get this job done. Contractors will consider things like the condition of the concrete slab and the rest of the home. They will also take into consideration the actual level of damage and the type of soil around the construction. 

So, as you can see now, reinforcing your home’s foundation is often not a simple task. In most cases, this job must be done by professional and skilled contractors who will consider all the nuances and create the best plan of strengthening your home. Like that, you will be able to avoid any flaws that might only make things worse.

 

When Reinforcing Your Home’s Foundation Is Needed

Now you are probably wondering when you should consider reinforcing your home’s foundation. See, in most cases, we don’t think about the foundation of our home when planning any construction works, such as adding new walls, changing the layout, room additions, or managing moisture buildup.

However, such renovations always add extra pressure and weight that the foundation must handle! But since we can’t typically see the pressure and force that a foundation is under, we often skip the moment when it might need to be strengthened. This is why we suggest you check out a few typical signs that will tell you the foundation of your home needs repairs. 

 

Your Home’s Foundation Has Cracks

This is perhaps the most common sign of a damaged foundation! If there is the development of cracks, your foundation is definitely in need of help. First of all, hidden cracks appear and then, visible ones typically occur afterward. 

But when you can already see those cracks, it means the problem is likely more extensive than it seems. Moreover, if there is any crumbling of the exterior walls, this is a key concern! There could be signs of damage inside your home as well, for instance, a basement may also show signs of hairline fractures and visible damage.  

 

Do You Have Warped Ceilings and Walls?

When you want to figure out whether your foundation is damaged or not, take a closer look at your interior walls. The walls within the home are typically way more “talkative”, providing us with a lot of information regarding what’s going on underneath the building. Besides, it is the fastest way to learn how it’s going on down there since in most cases, we can’t just take a look at our house’s foundation that easily for obvious reasons!

So if you see there is warping on your interior walls, such as the walls or the ceiling is no longer flush and flat, this can be the sign that a house shifting has occurred. You can also find it out if you take a look at the corners of the rooms of the home. If they no longer match well, there is a problem. If the corners, molding, joints, and ceiling are no longer flush, consider reinforcing your foundation! 

 

There Is Water Damage

Many times, foundation damage stems from water. If water does not drain properly away from the structure, this can create a damaged foundation. Concrete foundations can only take so much moisture buildup before they begin to crumble.

 

Consider Other Structural Signs

A few other structural signs also need to be taken into consideration:

  1. Sloping stairs
  2. Windows that have lost their square shape
  3. Floors that are no longer level
  4. Doors that are not aligned properly

If you see any of them, note that they are also signs of problems with the foundation. You may notice these when objects roll on the floor in one direction, or the doors do not stay closed tightly.

So now you know what methods can be used to reinforce your house’s foundation and in what cases each method might be useful. Also, we shared a few signs that clearly indicate the presence of foundation damage. Thanks to this information, you will now be able to not only spot any problems but also be aware of how they could be fixed.

 

Why Should Your House’s Foundation Be Reinforced?

Now you definitely understand the importance of your house’s foundation reinforcement. However, those who have never had to deal with any foundation issues tend to wonder why they would have to do anything about it if there are no signs of damage right now. However, when it comes to a house’s foundation, it is always better to prevent the damage than fix it later, which will require way more time, money, and effort! 

Also, you should realize that it is the foundation of a home that everything else rests on. It is supposed to be a durable base that can withstand anything be it weather conditions or added weight. But your home’s foundation is still threatened by other factors. Any changes in the soil under it (for example, caused by floods) or the added weight above it (for example, when you add a story above) can create shifts in the foundation, as well as lead to other issues. 

When the foundation is not reinforced, it can’t handle those shifts itself. As a result, it will eventually break and various problems with it will occur. This is why, when any shifts and breaks occur, it can compromise the integrity of the entire home. That’s never a good thing itself, and besides, it is always a costly repair.

This is why most existing structures can be and should be reinforced. And now you know that there are various methods to doing so. However, if you decide to reinforce your foundation, we would recommend you hire a structural engineer or residential contractor to provide specific recommendations for your home. They will consider the level of damage, the type of your foundation, and the state of soil around it. based on this data, a suitable type of reinforcement method will be selected.

Safety

At a construction site, it is of utmost importance to ensure the safety of all workers while reinforcing the foundation of any construction project. Here are some essential guidelines:
  1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Ensure all workers wear suitable PPE at all times. This includes safety helmets, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety footwear, and gloves.
  2. Training: Make sure that all workers involved in foundation reinforcement are adequately trained and understand the inherent risks and the steps they need to take to mitigate them.
  3. Safety Precautions for Rebar: When handling rebar, gloves should be worn to prevent injury. Make sure the ends of the rebar are capped to avoid impalement hazards.
  4. Lifting: When lifting and moving heavy materials, workers should use appropriate machinery, such as cranes or forklifts. Workers should be trained in proper lifting techniques if machinery is not available.
  5. Trench Safety: When reinforcing the foundation, trenches may be used. Ensure trench walls are sloped, shored, or shielded to prevent collapse. Never enter an unprotected trench.
  6. Safety Inspections: Regularly inspect the site for potential hazards, such as loose soil or shifting equipment. Ensure all machinery is maintained and operated correctly.
  7. Clear Communication: Make sure all team members know who the safety officer is and how to report potential safety issues. Regular safety meetings can keep everyone informed about current and potential hazards.
  8. First Aid: Always have a stocked first aid kit available on site, and ensure that there are trained first aid personnel available during all working hours.

Remember, safety should always be the first priority when working on any construction project, including foundation reinforcement. Adherence to these safety measures can ensure the wellbeing of all workers and the success of the project.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Reinforce My Home’s Foundation Myself?

It’s not recommended to do this. There might be nuances that only a professional contractor can see, but those nuances might influence the effect of your work a lot.

How Much Time Does It Take To Reinforce A Foundation?

Repairing a foundation generally will take more than a single day. Foundation repair usually takes about two to three days. However, due to a number of factors, it may be shorter or longer.

What’s The Average Price For Foundation Repair?

The cost of foundation repair is between $2,000 and $7,500. Very small cracks may be filled with epoxy for a few hundred dollars, but severe foundation problems can cost up to $15,000 to $25,000.

What Is Foundation Reinforcement?

Steel rebar is the most common reinforcement material, but alternatives like fiber-reinforced polymers and steel fibers are also used.

What Is A House Foundation
  1. Definition: A house foundation is the structural base upon which a building is constructed, responsible for transferring the weight of the structure to the ground and providing stability against environmental forces, such as wind and soil movement.
  2. Types of foundations: Common types of house foundations include shallow foundations (e.g., slab-on-grade, crawl space, and frost-protected shallow foundations) and deep foundations (e.g., piers, piles, and grade beams).
  3. Construction process: The foundation construction process typically involves site preparation, excavation, formwork installation, reinforcement placement, and concrete pouring. The specific steps may vary depending on the type of foundation being built.
  4. Costs: Foundation costs can vary widely based on factors such as the type of foundation, local labor rates, materials used, and site conditions. It's essential to obtain accurate cost estimates from local contractors to determine the best option for your project.
  5. Timing: The duration of foundation construction depends on the type of foundation, site conditions, and weather. Generally, shallow foundations can be completed more quickly than deep foundations, but it's crucial to ensure that adequate curing time is allowed for the concrete to achieve its required strength.
  6. Technical details: Properly designed house foundations require a thorough understanding of soil conditions, load-bearing capacity, and environmental factors. This information is typically obtained through a geotechnical investigation and is essential for determining the most suitable foundation type and design for the project.
  7. Considerations: Choosing the right foundation type is critical for the long-term stability and durability of a house. It's essential to consult with a qualified engineer or architect to evaluate site-specific factors and design a foundation that meets the requirements of the local building codes and the specific needs of the project.
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