The foundation of your home is what keeps the entire building “afloat”. With its help, the house remains stable and strong, so naturally, you should pay attention to the state of your home’s foundation. If you suspect that its condition is in distress, repairs must be done as soon as possible!
But how to fix the foundation of your house? This is the most common question that comes from the homeowners. People often think that fixing cracks and other problems with their foundations is something that only professionals can do.
But if you read this article, you will see that fixing a home foundation is not something extremely complicated! We will explain what leads to the most common foundation issues, how it can be fixed, and how much you might pay for it. Like that, you will be prepared for any upcoming foundation challenges, being aware of how to deal with them professionally and efficiently.
All You Need to Know About Fixing a House Foundation
You might think of being in need to fix the foundation of your house if you see that it is not doing well. One of the most common problems that homeowners face include cracks, but there might be other reasons why you would like to give your foundation a proper check. So what about the foundation house repair?
There were days when people used to spend tons of effort and a lot of time on fixing their home foundations. However, due to the lack of experience and because of the drawbacks that the fixing techniques had, those fixtures often ended up being with flaws.
Luckily, with today’s technology and trained experts, there are a number of very successful solutions to the problem of damaged foundations, from cracks to sunken concrete, that involve little or no disruption to normal living or business routine. The most common methods of this type of repair are the following:
- hydraulic jacking (also known as piering)
- sealants and masonry patches
- soil modification in foundation
Before deciding on a repair method, you must determine what is causing the distress. Examine moldings and trim boards,and check mortar joints in brick veneer. Also, take note of recent weather. Unusually, dry or wet weather can cause movement in the underlying soil, which then leads to various foundation issues. And once the key of the problem is found, you can select the type of fixing needed. And don’t worry: if you are not familiar with any of them, below you can find a brief description that will help you make a correct decision.
Sealants And Masonry Patches
If you have cracks in the foundation of your house, they can be fixed by patching the crack and covering it with a waterproof masonry sealer. But be sure that you spot and repair cracks early! It is important because the foundation supports the entire house, so the sooner you remove the cracks the better.
Commonly used sealers for minor cracks include:
- hydraulic cement
- vinyl concrete
- epoxies, silicone
The type of mixture used will depend on how big and deep the cracks are. If you deal with the minor or negligible cracks, they can be treated with masonry patches or sealants but regular maintenance is encouraged.
Chipping the crack and doing masonry patches using sealers is only favorable with minor cracks. It is better to identify the problem early on and repair it to prevent water infiltration and further damage to the foundation.
Mudjacking is a repair method used to lift concrete that is uneven or sinking. This process is also known as slab jacking. This method is ideal for small jobs such as:
- raising porches
- garage floors
Slab foundations sink when the soil underneath shifts or collapses and leaves empty spaces below. In the slab jacking method, you need to lift the concrete foundation. For that, you will have to drill two holes through the concrete foundation and into the sunken spaces below. Then a solution of natural elements (soil, cement, etc.) is injected through the hole to fill the void. As the solution expands, the fallen slab is raised back into place.
The slab jacking has an alternative method which is called polyurethane injection. Similar to the slab jacking process, polyurethane is injected through holes into the concrete to fill the voids below. Instead of filling the space with natural elements, dense and lightweight materials are used. But the basics are the same: these two methods serve the same function and work well on smaller projects.
However, both are short-term fixes, which means that they may need to be repeated every few years! Polyurethane injection tends to last longer because polyurethane is lighter, but this process is not widely available.
Advantages of Mudjacking
Despite of certain peculiarities, this method of house foundation fixing has significant benefits:
- The cost of slab jacking is low
- The place where slab jacking has been done can be used in about one hour
- This method is suitable for any condition of weather
- The structure doesn’t change color as the new concrete mixture spread beneath the old slab layer
- Doesn’t need to clean up the place as this method never messes up the place when compared to the rest.
The piering or piling technique means that a steel or concrete pier is used to resettle the foundation. But you should see the difference between piering and piling house foundation repair methods! Piering can be done by the excavation of earth strata while piling can be done by driving piles into the ground.
Some examples of piling used for house foundation repairs contain:
- Concrete piers
- Steel pressed piling
- Bell-bottom piers
So if you have any foundation problems, opt for these methods since they are considered long-term solutions. Besides, they will do a much better job of returning your home’s foundation to its original level in comparison to slab jacking.
Steel pressed pilings are often recommended and are highly efficient as a permanent solution for a house foundation repair issues. Steel piers are strong and they can be driven as deep as 100 feet! Like that, they provide stability to your home’s foundation.
The depth up to which steel piers are able to reach means that they will not move in expansive clay soil, which is a guarantee of your home’s stability.
Advantages of steel pressed piling:
- The steel piers can give a firm attachment to the soil because they are able to press deeply into it
- You will not pay a fortune for installing them
- In comparison to concrete piers, their steel alternative can withstand for heavyweights more efficiently
Concrete Pressed Piling
Pressed concrete pilings can become a handy option for you since they are used for both interior and exterior repairs of a house foundation. However, you should take into account that they will work much better on pier and beam houses, as well as concrete slab foundations. Properly installed pressed concrete piers need to be driven into the ground to about 12 feet deep.
Advantages of Concrete Pressed Piling:
- The cost is low, with no heavy equipment needed
- Not as tactical as the slab jacking method
Belled Concrete Piers:
This type of concrete piers is installed, following the similar scheme to poured/drilled concrete piers. The bottom of the pier has a shape of the foot that is designed to provide a wide area of support to the pier. Like with poured concrete piers, to build bell bottom piers, you should pour concrete into a previously excavated hole and place steel into the concrete while it is still wet.
Advantages of Belled Concrete Piers:
- Give good strength as it is reinforced
- The shape of the bottom prevents the piers from unwanted movements within the soil layer
Soil Modification in Foundation
Soil modification is the process that is used to make the soil stiffer and more stable than it has been previously. Here, voids within the soil layers are filled by some chemicals. The process is more or less likely to be slab jacking. However, many of those who have used this method could hardly recommend it. See, it requires more knowledge and a well trained guide, which means that you will want to hire a professional who would do that for you instead of doing it yourself. Also the cost of work and maintenance is pretty high.
But even despite these nuances and drawbacks, the soil modification method has its advantages:
- This type of house foundation repair method is fast response
- It is long-lasting
- It causes less damage to the structure
- It is also an environmentally friendly method
Like this, you are now aware of the most popular methods of house foundation repair! With all this in mind, it will be much easier for you to decide which method might suit you more depending on what kind of damage your foundation has.
What Are the Signs Of Foundation Problems?
How do you know if your house has any foundation issues? To be able to spot the very first symptoms of the damage, you should check your home’s foundation regularly. During these checkups, pay attention to the following signs of possible harm:
- Wall rotation
- Separation around garage door, windows and/or walls
- Cracked bricks
- Broken and/or cracked foundation
- Displaced moldings
- Misaligned doors and windows
- Cracked sheetrock
- Cracks in floor
- Uneven floors
Bulging floors, cracked walls, and doors that won't close are all signs of foundation distress. And if your home is built on expansive soils, it will most likely suffer from at least one kind of foundation distress.
What Causes Foundation Issues?
For most kinds of foundation damage, water appears to be the key culprit. Variations in moisture often cause components of the soil to swell or shrink, which leads to movement beneath your home’s foundation.
Your property may be more susceptible to foundation damage if any of the following factors is present:
- It was built on expansive clay
- It is located on improperly compacted fill soils
- There is a poor drainage around the foundation
- You live in an area with extreme seasonal changes
- You experienced a plumbing leak below your home
- The roots of the trees are growing too close to your house
- An earthquake, flood or drought affected the building
Those soils highest in clay content are generally more susceptible while those lowest in clay content are the least affected. In some areas, the movement might be barely noticed and cause almost no damage, whilst in others, it can be quite significant.
When unstable soils are used as a base, the movement is transferred to the foundation. Since soil rarely moves in a uniform way, the foundation will be subjected to a differential or upheaval. In this case, the problem will show up in both slab, and pier and beam type of foundations.
However, if all the soil mass beneath your home’s foundation swells uniformly, there should be no problem usually. Issues will start to show up when only part of the home settles. Then, the differential movement causes cracks or other damages.
Issues resulting from foundation settlement:
- Damage to the structure
- Loss of real estate value
- Tripping hazards
- Unsightly cracks
- Equipment malfunctions
Whatever the cause, settlement can destroy the value of your home and even render it unsafe. If you see signs of failure, don't delay in getting the problem solved. The longer you wait, the more your foundation will sink, causing further costly damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does A Home Foundation Repair Cost?
How Long Does It Take To Patch Cracks In A House Foundation?
Should You Fill In Cracks In The Foundation?
What Is The Difference Between A Foundation Crack And A Settlement Crack?
Foundation cracks are typically caused by external pressure on the foundation, while settlement cracks are the result of the house settling over time.
What Is The Difference Between Major Repairs Of The Foundation Of The House
- Major repairs of the foundation may vary based on the type of foundation (slab, crawl space, or basement) and the nature of the problem. Common types of major repairs include underpinning, piering, and slabjacking.
- Underpinning involves strengthening and stabilizing the existing foundation. This is often needed when the original foundation is not strong or stable enough, or when the soil properties that supported the foundation have changed.
- Piering is a technique used to correct a sinking foundation. It involves driving steel pipe pilings into the ground to alleviate the weight of the home from the unstable soil and transfer it to the solid, stable soil or bedrock beneath.
- Slabjacking is a repair technique for lifting a concrete slab that has moved due to soil compaction or washout. It involves pumping a cementitious mixture under the slab to lift it back into position.
- Major foundation repairs also include addressing any drainage issues that may be causing water to pool around the foundation. This could involve installing a French drain system or re-grading the land around the house to direct water away from the foundation.
- The cost of major foundation repairs can vary widely based on the extent of the damage, the method of repair, and the local market rates. In general, however, such repairs can be quite costly due to the labor and materials involved.
- When dealing with major foundation repairs, it's essential to work with a qualified professional. The foundation is a critical component of the home's structure, and improperly done repairs can lead to further damage and even safety issues.