Every homeowner will need to deal with repairs at some point – whether they’re caused by general wear and tear, or specific damage. Home repairs are never the most popular house renovations, but given the likelihood of having to deal with them, it’s a good idea to be prepared!
One area that we tend not to think of when it comes to home repairs is foundations. Unfortunately, you can rarely predict when foundation repairs might be required, as issues can arise at any time due to the earth’s natural movement.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for signs of foundation issues, so that you can act quickly to deal with any problems. These include cracks in walls or floors, doors that suddenly stick or stop closing, gaps appearing around window frames, and uneven floors. Spotting a problem early could mean the difference between some small-scale maintenance and a larger repair project.
If it’s too late for maintenance, and you already have a serious issue with your home’s foundations, here’s what you need to do.
Reach out to an expert
Your home’s foundation isn’t something that you should try to repair on your own. You should definitely have an expert identify the problem first. This is especially true if you don’t have any knowledge in the field, and are just guessing what might be the issue. This approach can risk making the problem worse. And although you might think that a DIY job will save you some money, you could easily end up paying more in the long run.
Whenever you hire someone to carry out home repairs, you need to make sure that they have valid certifications in the field, and operate in your area. After all, if you live in Los Angeles and have a leaking basement, you probably don’t need a company specialising in garage door repairs in Madison, do you?
By having an expert look at the issue, you can identify the problem before it becomes more serious. Even if you’re not aware of any issues, it’s still a good idea to have an expert look at your home’s foundations every now and then. This could save you money by identifying repairs at an early stage.
Foundation repair methods
The foundation repair method used will depend on the issue you’re dealing with. Here’s a quick guide to the main foundation repair methods.
Sealants and masonry patches
Cracks on the foundation of a house are quite common, but it’s important to repair them while they are still small. Doing so can prevent water infiltration, as well as further damage.
To carry out the repair, you should patch the crack and cover it with a waterproof masonry sealer. Materials that are usually used to seal small cracks include vinyl concrete, epoxies, hydraulic cement, silicone, or polyurethane. Remember that the type of mixture used depends on the severity of the crack.
Slab jacking is also known as concrete lifting, slab levelling, or mudjacking. It is used when the foundation of the house is uneven or sinking. This usually happens when the soil underneath shifts or collapses, leaving empty spaces.
Companies specialising in this repair drill 2″ holes through the foundation to reach the sunken spaces below. They then inject a solution of natural elements that includes soil and cement through the hole. The solution expands, and the fallen slab goes back into place.
Polyurethane injection is an alternative to slab jacking. Although the process is essentially the same, polyurethane is injected into the soil, and not a natural solution.
Both of these slab lifting methods work well on smaller projects. However, bear in mind that they can be short-term solutions, and you might have to repeat the process every few years. This is because the injected materials are heavy, and may cause new soil compression underneath the slab.
When it comes to bringing foundations to their original position, piling is a long-term solution that works a lot better than slab jacking. There are several types of piling options used for foundation repair.
Pressed Concrete Pilings
Pressed concrete pilings are durable foundation piers, and are used for both exterior and interior repairs. They work well for concrete slab foundations, as well as pier and beam houses. Correctly installed pressed concrete pilings need to be driven deep into the ground (usually around 12 feet) in order to achieve stability.
Poured Concrete Piers
This type of piling is driven around 10 feet deep into the ground. It takes 7 to 10 days for the foundation levelling to cure. Poured concrete piers have a longer installation time than pressed piers, due to the fact that the latter uses precast concrete segments that are already cured.
Belled Concrete Piers
Bell bottom concrete piers are installed in a similar way to pressed and poured concrete piers. The bell-shaped bottom provides more support to the pier. Just like poured concrete piers, these are built by pouring concrete into the prepared hole and placing steel into the wet concrete.
Steel piers can be driven as deep as 100 feet, meaning that they provide your home’s foundation with incredible stability. They won’t move in expansive clay soil, as they should be driven right into the bedrock.
Helical Steel Piers
Helical steel piers, also known as anchors, are a perfect solution for lightweight concrete slab foundations. They are used when other methods cannot be implemented due to the conditions. The piers are threaded into the ground to a predetermined load capacity, and the weight of the structure is transferred to the pilings and the load-bearing soil.
Hopefully this quick guide to foundation repair methods has helped you understand your options when dealing with a foundation problem in your home. By carrying out regular foundation inspection, dealing with any problems promptly, and using the services of a foundation expert, you can avoid a major repair project and get it right first time. However, if your house is damaged beyond repair or if the cost exceeds your budget, selling to an investor may be a good option for you.