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Last updated: May 17, 2024 • Home Improvement

Effective Ways to Fix Foundation Problems

We don’t need to emphasize the importance of your home’s foundation. Maintaining its structural integrity is crucial for homeowners, property managers, and potential buyers alike. If left unaddressed, foundation issues and excessive settling can jeopardize the structure’s stability and lead to excessive repair costs. This article discusses the causes and typical signs that can lead to building problems. As a starting point, you can benefit from the knowledge of an expert from the real estate agents directory to discuss those problems.

What Is Foundation Crack Repair?

hands point rock wall

Foundation crack repair refers to fixing or stabilizing a building’s base foundation when it has become compromised, shifted, cracked, or unstable. The foundation bears the total weight of the structure above. Thus, addressing the issues with the foundation is critical to maintaining structural integrity and preventing further damage. A professional assessment by a foundation repair contractor or structural engineer is typically required to evaluate the extent and cause of the foundation damage.

What Causes Foundation Damage?

The leading causes of foundation damage are:

  • Soil Movement: When the soil underneath and around the foundation enlarges or shrinks due to changes in moisture levels, it can shift and crack the foundation.
  • Poor Drainage: If water pools around the foundation instead of draining away properly, it can erode and weaken the foundation over time.
  • Plumbing Leaks: In underground pipes near the foundation, leaks can allow water to saturate the soil, causing it to swell and pressure the foundation.
  • Building Settlement: As a house ages, the foundation may sink or settle unevenly, creating cracks and instability.

Signs of Commercial Foundation Problems

When inspecting a commercial building, looking for signs of potential foundation problems is crucial. Here are some common indicators to watch out for:

  • Cracks across the walls or ceilings
  • Cracks in the concrete slab foundation
  • Uneven or sloping floors
  • Windows leaning outward or bowing.
  • Doors and windows are not operating smoothly. (For this reason, we recommend installing impact-resistant windows!)
  • Gaps between the foundation and walls
  • Crumbling foundation material
  • Signs of sinking or shifting foundation
  • Soil erosion around the foundation perimeter
  • Sticking or tighter doors and windows

If any of these issues are spotted, it’s wise to have professionals evaluate and address any underlying foundation problems to maintain the building’s structural integrity.

8 Types of Foundation Crack Repair Methods

two miniature houses

Different ways to fix a home’s foundation depend on the soil conditions and what needs repair. The best foundation crack repair methods are discussed below:

  1. Steel Piers

Driving in steel piers is one of the best long-term fixes when a foundation has significant issues. These big, tough steel posts get pounded really deep into the ground, all the way down to the bedrock or super hard-packed soil layers. This gives the house an incredibly solid base on which to sit. Steel piers can take a crazy amount of weight and are considered a permanent solution. But they are also the most expensive option.

  1. Helical Piers

Helical piers work similar to steel piers but get screwed in differently. They have a spiral shaft that looks like a giant screw. Special machines twist and screw these piers into the ground until they reach really dense, hard-packed soil that can support the weight. This way, they can provide long-lasting support without always going down to the bedrock.

  1. Concrete Piles

Concrete piles can be a more affordable foundation crack repair option. These are just big premade chunks or cylinders of concrete that get driven or stacked into the ground under the foundation. These concrete piles can support the weight if the soil underneath is stable and compacted. They cost less than steel but may only work in some soil situations.

  1. Poured Concrete Piers

Here’s how the poured concrete pier works: holes are dug out from under the foundation, then filled with a liquid concrete mixture that’s allowed to harden into solid piers fully. These can be straight-sided or widened at the bottom for extra support. When soil conditions cooperate, poured piers can be a decent, lower-cost option.

  1. Polyurethane Foam

While there’s an emergency or a quick temporary fix is needed, expanding polyurethane foam can help. This foam gets injected under settled or cracked concrete to re-level and lift it back up rapidly. Different foam types are available for things like stabilization or moisture resistance. But foaming is just a band-aid. The actual underlying issue needs proper repairs. 

  1. Slab Jacking

If a house’s concrete slab foundation has become cracked and uneven due to soil washout, slab jacking is a common repair. Holes are drilled through the slab. Then, a cement grout or dense foam gets pumped to raise and re-level those sunken sections. For slabs on well-compacted soil, slab jacking can permanently fix the unevenness. But it may need to be repeated if soils keep shifting. You need to inspect the home before buying any property, as you want to avoid expensive repairs later on.

  1. Shimming

Sometimes, after the new home is built, enough soil settles, and gaps open between the foundation and the wood framing above. Suppose an inspector says these gaps are manageable. In that case, metal shims can be jammed in those gaps to close them back up and adequately support that section again. Shimming works long-term if the soil stops moving and settling. If gaps keep reappearing, more major underpinning repairs are needed.

  1. Crack Sealing
sinking concrete stone

After doing any major foundation repair work, the final step is using specialty sealants to seal any remaining cracks in the concrete. This stops groundwater from constantly leaking through those cracks, which causes more damage and moisture issues inside over time. Did you know groundwater pollution is one of the most urgent environmental threats developers must deal with? Crack sealing is super important to keep all those new walls and floors nice and dry when finishing a basement.

Conclusion

Maintaining a building’s structural integrity starts with promptly addressing any foundation issues. As outlined in the article, various foundation crack repair methods are available depending on the cause and extent of damage—from steel and helical piers that provide deep, lasting support to more affordable options like concrete piles and slab jacking. 

Foundation crack repair prevents further settling, cracking, and instability, jeopardizing the entire structure. By understanding the signs of foundation problems and choosing the appropriate foundation repair technique, homeowners and property managers can safeguard their investments and ensure the building’s longevity without incurring exorbitant future costs.

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