We all expect our homes to last for years and years, but over time, different parts of your home will require maintenance and repairs. The foundation of the house is no different. In fact, the foundation plays an essential role in keeping the rest of your home stable and structurally intact. But even a structure as strong as a concrete foundation can get damaged.
There are different factors that can contribute to a damaged foundation.
Depending on your location and the type of soil your home is built on, house settlement can occur and lead to foundation cracks. Eventually, this foundation settlement (or sinking) can lead to not only further damage to the foundation itself, but also structural damage to the rest of the home.
Another factor is water, especially during heavy rainfall. As water soaks into the soil around your home, much of that water can come to rest against your foundation. Large amounts of water pressure can eventually lead to cracks in your foundation and even the tilting or bowing of your foundation walls.
Let’s take a look into how the foundation repair process works, and the types of solutions that go into different types of foundation problems.
Finding Signs of Foundation Damage
Looking at the foundation repair process can be a daunting task, especially for homeowners who are unfamiliar with the intricacies of foundation construction and repair. One common issue that can require foundation repair is foundation heave, which occurs when the soil beneath the foundation expands and lifts the foundation upward.
The first step to repairing your foundation is spotting the signs that your foundation has been damaged. Foundation cracks can indeed be a sign that settlement or movement is happening. Sometimes cracks happen naturally. such as when concrete dries. These kinds of hairline cracks are usually harmless. Cracks larger than a hairline or cracks that continue to widen, are likely being caused by movement or settlement of the foundation and require attention. Here are some of the foundation cracks that you might encounter and what could be causing them…
- Lateral cracks along the middle of your foundation wall can mean a bowing wall This is usually caused by water pressure on the exterior side of the wall.
- Stair-step cracks in the corner can indicate that there’s house settlement occurring in one part of your foundation.
- Cracks in your foundation floor can result from house settlement and from voids in the soil created by water erosion.
Should you notice any foundation cracks in basement floor that appear to be growing or widening over time, or if you see a crack and are feeling concerned, you should always contact a foundation expert for help in protecting your home from further damage.
Once it has been determined that your foundation has been damaged, repairs will be needed. Different types of foundation damage will require different solutions. Let’s take a look at the ways the second step in foundation repair may take shape…
Repairing Foundation Walls
There are a number of solutions to help repair your foundation walls, but it depends on the problem and its severity. Let’s look at what could be done for cracked foundations and their causes…
- Carbon fiber wall straps are great in stopping the movement of foundation cracks, especially for a bowing basement wall. But this only works if the bow doesn’t deflect more than two inches.
- I-beams are useful for stabilizing and reinforcing a foundation wall that is leaning or has a bow deflection greater than two inches.
- Wall anchors are another solution for bowing or leaning foundation walls. These can be used when a wall is bowing or leaning. Potentially, they can even straighten your wall.
- If your foundation walls are exhibiting stair-step cracks in your lower level, there’s a chance that it’s because of a sinking foundation. This type of settlement problem will require your foundation to be reinforced from below with piering.
Repairing a Sinking Foundation Floor
If your foundation is sinking, it will not just be the cracks in your foundation wall and floor that will need to be repaired. Your foundation will also require stabilization to keep it from sinking further. This is done with the installation of piers beneath your foundation. The ground where the house is settling will be excavated so that the piers can be placed. Then those piers will be driven into the earth before being connected to the foundation by a bracket.
After your repairs have been done, your foundation should once again be stable, preventing any further damage both to your foundation as well as your home above.
Your Foundation Repair Checklist
Before getting your foundation repaired, there are some other points you will want to consider:
- Have you determined what might be causing your foundation to be damaged? Has the problem source been taken care of?
- Have you found a contractor that offers a strong warranty? Do they have good reviews and a long history of industry experience?
- Is your contractor licensed and insured?
Find a Professional Foundation Repair Company
Whether your home is experiencing settlement, or your basement wall is cracked and bowing because of water pressure on the exterior side, you’ll want to make sure that any problem sources are addressed along with your foundation repairs. Consider waterproofing for your basement or crawlspace if your foundation problems are being caused by water damage. There are contractors that offer these services, but again, you’ll want to make sure that their services are backed by a strong, reliable warranty and that they are experienced in the industry.
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